Arsenal travel to Manchester City on Sunday with a poor record at the Etihad in recent seasons – four losses in their last six visits (W1, D1).
Manuel Pellegrini’s side are second in the Premier League, two points behind leaders Chelsea and some 11 points clear of Arsenal. Their eight point lead over Southampton pretty-much ensures who the top two are going to be this season.
Arsène Wenger’s side haven’t been too consistent on the road of late with only one win in their last four but we believe the Gunners have an excellent opportunity of getting a result on Sunday.
Here are our 5 reasons why we think it won’t be a straightforward Manchester City victory:
1. Manchester City’s performances
Manchester City have been doing just enough recently to get results, putting in no convincing performances in their last four games in all competitions. They missed the opportunity to go top of the Premier League in their final game of 2014 when they blew a 2-0 lead to draw at home to Burnley. They then blew another 2-0 lead over Sunderland on New Year’s Day before a late winner against the bottom half side. James Milner’s late goal saw them beat midtable Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup and then they were held 1-1 at Everton last weekend. The Toffees had been on a four-game losing streak in the league and that result means Pellegrini’s side have won only one of their last three in the league.
2. Alexis Sánchez, Santi Cazorla
Two players in excellent form for Arsenal over the past month or so. Santi Cazorla should be expected to maintain his central attacking midfield role where he is much, much more productive than when stuck out on the left. With Yaya Touré off on Africa Cup of Nations duty the home side have lost some power in their midfield too. Alexis Sánchez could be lined up on the left against Pablo Zabaleta who has really been out of form over the past few weeks, the Chilean can be confident in taking it past the Argentine and/or winning free kicks off the Manchester City right-back. Alternatively, if Sánchez plays on the right he’ll have Gaël Clichy and Eliaquim Mangala to exploit and we see that as a favourable matchup for the Gunner too.
3. Vincent Kompany, Sergio Agüero only just returning
Vincent Kompany is expected to take his place back in the Manchester City defence again this weekend. The club captain has been out of action for a month with a hamstring injury, playing in just one of City’s last 10 games in all competitions. Arsenal may want to test the Belgian early to see what shape he is in and take advantage of any sign of a lack of match fitness. Sergio Agüero only returned to play 24 minutes last weekend after missing seven straight with a ligament injury. The Argentine striker sure looked short of match fitness in that one. There’s a chance he won’t be at his best on Sunday which has to be a positive for Arsenal.
4. Manchester City’s defence
Manchester City have shipped two goals to both Burnley and Sunderland in their last two home Premier League games and have only kept three clean sheets in their 10 league games at the Etihad this season. They are four games without a clean sheet in all competitions and havenot look so secure at the back of late. We’ve touched on Pablo Zabaleta’s poor form recently, Eliaquim Mangala has yet to have a good game since joining in the summer and Vincent Kompany is only just returning. Potential problems when facing, Sánchez, Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and co?
5. Arsenal have been more than a match twice this season
Arsenal are unbeaten in both competitive meetings with Manchester City this season – they were 3-0 winners in the Community Shield back in August and then they drew 2-2 back at the Emirates in September. The Gunners headed into that league tie out of form and as a midtable team. They have only got better since then.