Manuel Pellegrini might have confused math calculations against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, but against Arsenal they thankfully will not have to rely on complex numbers – all they need is another strong performance at home.
And talking about home performance, take a look at these stats – the Citizens have won their last 7 matches at home, scored 29 goals at home (more than any other side in the league), scored at least 3 goals in their last 5 home matches, conceded just 2 at home and kept clean sheet in 5 of their last 7 home matches.
As far the league leaders are concerned, this is unquestionably their biggest test of the season. And going by the form, if any team, you can put money on to stop City’s juggernaut at home – it has to be Arsenal. Their outstanding away record is envy for top sides in Europe – amassing 16 points from 7 games this season.
Pressure will be lifted off the shoulders of Arsene Wenger a bit, after his side reached the knock out stages of the Champions League, despite losing 2-0 against Napoli. A victory here will take them nine points clear off City and will put them in a strong position, whereas, a defeat will see the gap closed to three points only – so, going by the cliché, this could possibly be a massive ‘six-pointer’ for both the sides.
Manchester City rested several of their star players against Bayern in the midweek, so Manuel Pellegrini is expected to recall a number of first team regulars. Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo should be back in the starting line-up on Saturday.
Joe Hart was brilliant against Bayern and could keep the gloves again. Left-back Gael Clichy could be ready to face his former club after recovering from a knock. David Silva came out unscathed in the midweek, so the talisman Spaniard should not face any difficulty to start, but Micah Richards, Matija Nastasic and Steven Jovetic will all miss out with injuries.
Bacary Sagna has passed a late fitness test so expect the Frenchman to replace Carl Jenkinson at right-back. Lukas Podolski has returned to training but probably Wenger won’t take the risk of starting him in this crunch tie. Yaya Sanogo, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby are all still sidelined.
Possible Man City line-Up:
In a flexible 4-4-2 formation, expect Aguero to operate behind Negredo, while Silva and Nasri to operate on either flanks. Toure and Fernandinho should take the control at the heart of midfield.
Possible Arsenal Line-up:
It will be interesting to see how Arsenal shapes up in their typical 4-2-3-1 formation. Away from home, Wenger will be looking to keep things tight, but can he afford to drop Ramsey? He looked jaded in the last game against Everton and Wenger might use him from the bench.
Prediction: 2-1; Really, hard to predict. Arsenal have scored more goals than any other team away at Man City in the Premier League era, but keeping in mind City’s home form, momentum after beating Bayern and the sheer importance of the match from City’s point of view, expect them to snatch a victory on Saturday.