Competition: Premier League – Arsenal vs. Manchester City
Venue: Emirates Stadium – Monday, December 21 – 20:00 GMT (15:00 ET)
Match Odds: Arsenal 11/8 – Draw 13/5 – Manchester City 9/5
Leicester’s win on Saturday means that neither Arsenal or Manchester City can top the table on Christmas Day but that won’t stop either from seeing Monday’s clash as a pivotal one.
Arsenal sit second, one point and one place better off than City coming into the game, and know a win will leave them just two points off high flying Leicester.
Arsenal’s Premier League record: P16 – W10 – D3 – L3
The Gunners have plenty of injury worries but they’ve been very professional in their last two outings, beating Sunderland and Aston Villa in solid displays.
The visit of Manchester City will, though, pose a very different threat. The Citizens might not be in their best form but they are still an elite side and both sets of fans will know this will be a tough game to win.
Manuel Pellegrini will have to try and ignore speculation suggesting Pep Guardiola will be replacing him at the end of the season and will instead need to focus on getting his side to beat Arsenal for the first time in four attempts.
Manchester City’s Premier League record: P16 – W10 – D2 – L4
City needed a stoppage time winner to edge past a managerless Swansea side last weekend and have not won back-to-back games in the league since October.
They’re winless in their last four away games and the Gunners are undoubtedly favourites as a result.
This should be a really enjoyable game. Both sides are dealing with mounting challenges, whether that be in shape of injuries or media speculation about a manager’s future, and so a win for either side would be seen as an enormous one.
Arsenal won the most recent meeting between the two sides 2-0 at the Etihad in January and will hope that result from 11 months ago can be repeated on home soil.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has very few choices to make when deciding his starting lineup for this game as he still has so many injuries to worry about. Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, Danny Welbeck, Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla are all definitely out, while Alexis Sanchez remains doubtful and will likely be a substitute at best.
Manchester City have received a huge boost ahead of this one, following the news that Sergio Aguero has been passed fit to play. He will lead the line at the Emirates, while Kevin De Bruyne should also return to the starting XI. Vincent Kompany remains sidelined, along with Samir Nasri, Pablo Zabaleta and Fernando.
Arsenal’s last five: D/L/D/W/W
Manchester City’s last five: D/L/W/L/W
Key Stat: Arsenal are unbeaten in their last four meetings with Manchester City, winning by an aggregate score of 8-3 over those matches.
Key Player: Mesut Ozil – The German playmaker has been sensational this season and is enjoying his best spell since joining the Gunners. He has picked up a goal or an assist in his last six home games and will expect to make that seven by the end of Monday night.
Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City – This is a really tough one to call. Both sides could make a case for victory but home advantage and recent form mean Arsenal should just edge it by the one goal. Injuries have depleted both squads but an entertaining clash between two Premier League heavyweights should be a festive treat for fans across the country.