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Preview: Manchester City vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday night's rearranged Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.

Mikel Arteta will come up against his mentor Pep Guardiola for the first time as Arsenal manager when the Gunners take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday evening.

The visitors remain in the hunt for a European spot with 10 games of their season to go, while Man City will be hoping to use this rearranged fixture to bounce back from their derby defeat at the hands of Manchester United on Sunday.

Match preview

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and assistant coach Mikel Arteta before the match in November 2019© Reuters

Any player will tell you that they prefer to have another game as soon after a defeat as possible in order to respond and get that result out of their system.

Wednesday's hastily-rearranged fixture could be coming at a good time for Man City, then, despite adding to a fixture pile-up which Guardiola has been vocal in his criticism about on numerous occasions already this season.

The desire to return to winning ways will only be heightened by the fact that Sunday's loss came against local rivals Manchester United - the third time they have tasted derby defeat this term, including in both Premier League games.

Having predictably dominated possession for the opening 20 minutes or so, Man City then struggled to match United and could have few arguments about the 2-0 final scoreline, even if Ederson was at fault for both goals.

The defeat was the seventh Man City have suffered in the Premier League this season, which is more than ninth-placed Arsenal and the most Guardiola has ever experienced in a single league campaign throughout his managerial career.

Manchester United's Anthony Martial in action with Manchester City's Ederson on March 8, 2020© Reuters

Of course, in the grand scheme of things it will not have a decisive impact on the title race, other than the fact that Liverpool are now only two wins away from officially wrapping things up and could now be champions before they visit the Etihad on April 5.

Indeed, Liverpool could win the title without kicking another Premier League ball should City lose this match and be beaten by Burnley on Saturday, which appears unlikely but is not beyond the realms of possibility considering a huge Champions League last 16 second leg with Real Madrid is looming next week.

What the United defeat did do is halt City's momentum following five successive wins in all competitions which included victory at the Bernabeu, EFL Cup glory and progress into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Guardiola's side could now lose back-to-back games for the second time already this calendar year having not suffered that fate once throughout 2019, although they will be pleased to be back at home for the first time since February 19, having taken 13 points from the last 15 available in the league at the Etihad.

City, who are 11 points worse off than at the same stage last season, have by no means been invincible in front of their own fans, though, and Arteta may sense an opportunity to get one over on his former employers amid continued suggestions that the Premier League is now at the bottom of their priority list.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta reacts on February 27, 2020© Reuters

It is sure to be a special occasion for Arteta as the student pits his wits against the master, and while he will be quick to credit Guardiola for teaching him the ropes during his trophy-laden spell in Manchester, he will also be keen to show that he has a few tricks of his own up his sleeve.

There have certainly been signs of improvement from the Gunners since the Spaniard took charge and they come into Wednesday's match still unbeaten in the league this calendar year - an eight-game streak which makes for the longest current run in the competition.

The fact that half of those have ended in draws has prevented Arsenal from significantly climbing the table, but they have now won their last three league games in a row and another victory on Wednesday could lift them as high as sixth and within two points of fifth - a spot which may be enough for Champions League football next season given Man City's European ban.

The Gunners have not won four league games on the bounce since October 2018 and had only won four of their previous 23 prior to this recent run, so achieving that feat at the Etihad would be a significant achievement for a team whose own European hopes for next season now hang solely on their Premier League position.

Another clear indication of Arsenal's improvement comes in defence, where they have kept three clean sheets in their last four league games, which is as many as they managed in their previous 23 before that.

Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette celebrates scoring their first goal on March 7, 2020© Reuters

Saturday's 1-0 triumph over West Ham United was Arsenal's third successive league game at home, though, and Wednesday's match sees them play away in the league for the first time since February 2.

The Gunners drew 0-0 with Burnley on that occasion - one of only three away clean sheets they have managed all term and a fifth consecutive Premier League draw on the road.

Indeed, while Arsenal are now unbeaten in their last 11 away games across all competitions, they have only won one of their last 12 in the league and only seven teams have picked up fewer top-flight points on their travels.

Only six teams have scored fewer away goals, meanwhile, so a trip to Man City, who have the joint-best defensive record at home this term, appears to be exactly what they do not need.

Growing competition between Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah does appear to have improved Arsenal's goal threat, though, and the stalemate at Turf Moor is the only one of Arsenal's 15 games under Arteta in which they have failed to score.

Man City Premier League form: DWLWWL
Man City form (all competitions): WWWWWL

Arsenal Premier League form: DDDWWW
Arsenal form (all competitions): WWWLWW

Team News

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne pictured on February 26, 2020© Reuters

Man City are hopeful of being able to welcome Kevin De Bruyne back from a shoulder injury in time for this match after he missed the derby on Sunday.

The Belgian playmaker, who scored twice in the reverse fixture at the Emirates, returned to training on Monday and, while he is unlikely to be risked ahead of Real Madrid unless he is 100%, he is expected to be in contention.

Sergio Aguero is a doubt, though, having lasted less than an hour in the derby and then been spotted with ice on his thigh while sitting on the bench.

The match will come too soon for Aymeric Laporte following the hamstring injury he sustained in the first leg against Real Madrid, while long-term absentee Leroy Sane is not yet ready to return despite taking part in training this week.

Arsenal have been hit by the news that Lucas Torreira could miss the remainder of the campaign after fracturing his ankle in the FA Cup clash with Portsmouth last week.

Arteta's defensive options could be handed a significant boost with Shkodran Mustafi, Kieran Tierney and Cedric Soares all returning to training last week.

Wednesday's match may come too soon for the latter pair considering how long they have been sidelined for, but Mustafi could be back in contention.

Sead Kolasinac remains a few weeks away from a return, though, while Calum Chambers will not feature again this season due to a cruciate ligament injury.

Lacazette will be hoping that his winner against West Ham earns him a starting role, although he has scored more goals as a substitute than any other player since the start of last season, while Arsenal as a team have scored an unparalleled 16 goals via subs in the same period.

Man City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Fernandinho, Otamendi, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, D Silva; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Bellerin, Luiz, Mustafi, Saka; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Head To Head

Man City have dominated this fixture in recent years, winning each of their last six meetings across all competitions by an aggregate score of 17-2 - their best ever run against the Gunners.

The most recent meeting saw City cruise to a 3-0 victory at the Emirates in December, with all of the goals coming in the first half as De Bruyne netted either side of a Raheem Sterling strike.

Arsenal have not won a league game against Man City since December 2015, while you have to go back to January of that year for their last league win at the Etihad.

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We say: Man City 2-0 Arsenal

Arsenal come into this match in good form, but they have a torrid record against Man City in recent times and Guardiola's side will be hurting from their derby defeat, regardless of where the Premier League sits in their priority list. We are backing a seventh straight Man City triumph over the Gunners.


Who will win Wednesday night's Premier League clash between Man City and Arsenal?

Man City
Man City
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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta reacts on February 27, 2020
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