Manchester City’s start to the season has been the stuff of dreams. Except a draw against Everton in August, City has won every game this season across all competitions. Pep Guardiola’s success in getting City to play according to his style has been a key factor behind their run. The Citizens have scored 35 goals in 11 league games so far. The likes of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus have been monstrous. This weekend, Arsenal will be the latest side attempt to thwart the home side’s surge. Can Arsenal resist City’s onslaught? Many fear another big defeat for the gunners.
Manchester City has been in sublime form this season. Having won 10 of their first 11 games, they stand 5 points clear at the top of the table. On the other hand, Arsenal FC has had an indifferent start and are 5th in the table. Another key factor is that Arsenal are 9 points behind Manchester City and defeat could virtually mean the title race is already over for them.
In The corresponding fixture last season at Etihad, Manchester came from a goal down to beat Arsenal FC 2-1. Although, The reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium culminated in a 2-2 draw. Finally, it was Arsenal who had the last laugh as they beat Pep Guardiola’s side 2-1 at Wembley in the FA CUP semi-final.
Their away form has been the biggest chink in Arsenal’s armor. This season so far they have only won one away game. Further, their record in the recent years against the “big 6” is purely embarrassing. The Gunners have only won two of these matches since the 2012/13 season and lost 13 of them. This problem was epitomized in their 4-0 defeat at Liverpool earlier this season. Though after that game, they did a manage a much more resistant performance against Chelsea. If the past and Chelsea’s form is any indicator that probably is an exception rather than the rule. Despite that, Wenger can take confidence in the Chelsea performance. If he can get Arsenal to be as disciplined and show City respect they might have a chance. If not, it could be another thrashing.
While Arsenal’s have used the Europa league to give minutes to fringe players and academy graduates, City’s presence in the Champions League has not afforded them any such luxury. On Wednesday, Manchester City played a high-intensity game away to Napoli. While Guardiola has rotated his team effectively, its quite possible that tiredness will creep into the City side. Arsenal has a great opportunity to take advantage of it due to their team being well-rested. But on the contrary, the manner of the victory in Naples will give City a lot of confidence and also speaks volumes about the growth of the squad and their character.
While Wenger has received excessive criticism of over the years, his record against Pep Guardiola is inspiring. The 3-time Premier League winner remains the only manager to have beaten all teams Pep has managed. This is a distinction he has held since the Bayern Munich days of the Spaniard. Taking into account the fact that Pep is one of the greatest manager’s in history and has managed vastly superior teams, it is something to be proud of for Wenger and gives Arsenal fans a reason to be optimistic.
A huge problem for Arsenal in these big away games has been getting their best players into the game. It is no rocket science to figure science to figure out that the attacking trio of Mesut Ozil, Alexandar Lacazette, and Alexis Sanchez are Arsenal’s brightest talents. More often than not these players have disappeared in such matches. It will be crucial for these 3 to be effectively involved for Arsenal to have any chance on Sunday afternoon. Not only do they need to bring their A game on the ball but also work very hard off the ball.
Manchester City: W, W, W, W, W
The match is scheduled to kick off at 2:15 PM local time/7:45 PM IST.