Manchester City will be without four first team regulars as Gundogan joins Fernandinho, Aguero and Kompany on the sidelines after a season ending injury. They’re under-strength but have decent depth, though a midfield pairing of Fernando and Toure is a weakening. Stones and Iheanacho could be in line for recalls as Guardiola is expected to rotate once more, rarely being content to keep the team unchanged. They have a poor recent record against Arsenal but will believe they can secure all three points, even with key absentees. They’ll be fairly open in their approach, trying to get De Bruyne and David Silva into the game early, but with a shaky defence they can’t afford to be too risky against an Arsenal team who will punish if given space to do so. A draw doesn’t really suit, particularly at home. The likelihood is they’ll need to score twice to win, so if they get ahead they’d look for a second before consolidating, but at no point would they ease off completely and invite pressure. They’ll always look to go forward, even more so if trailing, which would make for a very stretched game with chances at both ends, with this being a game Man City can’t afford to come away with nothing from.
Arsenal don’t have any new injuries or suspensions, but Mustafi, Santi Cazorla and Ramsey among others remain sidelined, leaving the team a little weaker. Only one change from their midweek loss to Everton is expected as Iwobi likely replaces Oxlade-Chamberlain on the left flank, with Gabriel Paulista holding down his spot at centre back alongside Koscielny in a potential weak point in the team. Their recent record against Man City is strong, but there is a lot of pressure on them to take a win in order to remain in the title race, with Chelsea nine points ahead. Normally a draw would suit, but a win is the target and a result they’ll believe is possible, playing at a high tempo and controlling the ball, testing Man City’s defence early and often, looking to establish a lead. They won’t be too expansive in their approach but an open game does suit, so the longer it’s level the more the match will become stretched. They have goals in them and will trouble Man City’s defence, so even if they go behind they’ll have a chance provided they don’t become reckless and leave a lot of space exposed defensively.
Verdict & Prediction
Even with a loss to Everton midweek, the mood around Arsenal is still decent, but there is growing pressure to maintain positive results as they begin to lose ground on Chelsea, who are nine points ahead going into kick off. Normally a draw would be a good outcome, but they’ll feel they need to win. They do have a good recent record with Man City, which is a reason for confidence, so they’ll travel believing a win is possible, with the very least they’d be happy with being a draw. If they lose the fans could begin to grow frustrated, slipping to fourth place over Christmas.
Prediction: Arsenal +0.00 AH (same as Draw no bet)
Odds: 2.38 SBOBET