Competition: Premier League – Manchester City vs. Arsenal
Venue: Etihad Stadium – Sunday, December 18 – 16:00 GMT (11:00 ET)
Match Odds: Man City 11/10 – Draw 13/5 – Arsenal 23/10
Manchester City welcome Arsenal to the Etihad on Sunday afternoon in what is a huge Premier League clash between both sides as they look to go into Christmas in high spirits.
City have been far from the side they looked when they won ten-straight games to start the season. They did beat Watford on Wednesday night but had lost back-to-back league games prior to that.
Pep Guardiola is facing the toughest test of his managerial career and will be looking to get past a fellow title rival in Arsenal to alleviate some pressure in the club’s final game before Christmas.
City will once again be without Sergio Aguero though, and that could cause them problems. They will need Kelechi Iheanacho to lead the line against a Gunners defence that looked sloppy in Tuesday’s defeat at Everton.
Arsenal arrive at the Etihad knowing a win would move them back to within six points of league leaders Chelsea but also know that a defeat would see them fall behind City into fourth place.
This is a huge game for Arsene Wenger. He watched his side throw away three points at Goodison Park in the week and will need his players to remain focused on the tough task at hand if they are to keep their good recent record against City intact.
Arsenal are unbeaten in six games against Manchester City, with their last defeat coming three years ago, but Wenger has only managed to beat Guardiola in two of their previous eight clashes.
Manchester City remain without suspended duo Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho here, while Vincent Kompany has been joined by Ilkay Gundogan on the sidelines. Fabian Delph is not yet fit enough to be involved but John Stones should return after being rested during the midweek win over Watford.
Arsenal still have a long injury list to deal with. Chuba Akpom, Santi Cazorla, Mathieu Debuchy, Yaya Sanogo, Per Mertesacker and Shkodran Mustafi are all still sidelined, as is Danny Welbeck although the striker has returned to training. Aaron Ramsey is still a doubt.
Man City’s last five: W/W/L/L/W
Arsenal’s last five: D/W/W/W/L
Key Stat: There have been 24 goals in the last six games between these two sides – an average of four per game.
Key Player: Alexis Sanchez – The Arsenal striker has been in excellent form this season, scoring 12 league goals. He has now contributed to 27 goals in his last 27 Premier League games and will hope to be the difference-maker on Sunday.
Man City 2-2 Arsenal – Goals are expected on Sunday as both sides have shown frailties at the back in recent weeks. City know they must avoid defeat here to keep their title hopes intact but Arsenal will be looking to avoid back-to-back league defeats for the first time in two seasons, so a score draw looks likely in what should be an entertaining game.