Arsenal FC vs. Manchester City FC
Saturday, January 01, 2022 – 07:30 AM EST at Emirates Stadium
Man City is now eight points clear of closest rival Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table following a 1-0 win against Brentford on Wednesday. Liverpool, which is one point behind Chelsea, has a game in hand, so Man City boss Pep Guardiola has refused to accept that the title race is over.
“There are 54 points to play for,” Guardiola said after the Brentford game when reporters suggested the title was heading to Manchester once again. “All of you, thank you for your nice words because we win but I am not going to believe any words you say about it is already done or expected because Chelsea and Liverpool are more than exceptional. One is champions of Europe and the other has been our big rivals over the years.”
However, there is an air of inevitability about Man City’s march to glory. It has won the Premier League in three of the past four seasons, and its players know how to get the job done in this competition.
Guardiola has a large and supremely talented squad at his disposal, so he has been able to shuffle his pack and bring in fresh legs for each game during this busy period in the fixture list. He was able to leave Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gündogan, Riyad Mahrez, and Oleksandr Zinchenko on the bench for the 1-0 win against Brentford, and all four could return to the team for this match.
Arteta to Miss Out
This would normally be a showdown between Guardiola and his protégé, Mikel Arteta, who spent a couple of years as Guardiola’s assistant at Man City before taking over from Unai Emery as Arsenal manager. However, Arteta will not be able to attend, as he has tested positive for COVID-19.
That is a blow for the Gunners, as Arteta is usually an animated presence on the touchline. He will have to leave his team in the hands of his assistants for this game.
Arsenal is up to fourth in the table, 15 points behind Man City, after winning its last four matches. However, it has a woeful record against City.
Man City Dominates Head-to-Heads
It finished 5-0 to Man City when these teams met at the Etihad Stadium earlier this season. That was City’s ninth consecutive victory over Arsenal in the Premier League.
The Gunners did manage to beat Guardiola’s team in the FA Cup semi-finals near the start of Arteta’s tenure, but in the Premier League, City has been utterly dominant.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has not featured for Arsenal since he was stripped of the captaincy due to a disciplinary breach a few weeks ago. Alexandre Lacazette has started up front, with Martin Ødegaard, Bukayo Saka, and Gabriel Martinelli flourishing behind him.
Right-backs Takehiro Tomiyasu, Cedric Soares, and Calum Chambers all have COVID, so Ben White is likely to play on the right of the defense, with Rob Holding alongside Gabriel in the middle.
Man City midfielder Rodrigo Hernández has COVID, while Kyle Walker is also out with an illness. John Stones is a doubt. City has a clean bill of health otherwise, and it should have enough quality to get the better of Arsenal for the 10th Premier League game in a row on Saturday.
Soccer Pick: Man City to Win (-200) with DraftKings
Soccer Pick: Man City to Win and Over 2.5 Goals (-102) with Unibet
Soccer Pick: Both teams to Score and Over 2.5 Goals (-111) with Bet365