Monday, August 10
Jun 17, 2020 at 8.15pm UK
Man CityManchester City
Sterling (45+2'), De Bruyne (51' pen.), Foden (90+1')
Rodri (79')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Tierney (76')

Preview: Manchester City vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Manchester City vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups: ID:402542: from db_amp
Sports Mole provides a full preview including predictions, team news and possible lineups for Manchester City vs. Arsenal as Premier League football returns.

Exactly 100 days after the last taste of Premier League action, England's top flight returns on Wednesday and the headline fixture of the first night back sees champions Manchester City welcome Arsenal to the Etihad Stadium.

The contest has already been rearranged twice this season and was the first Premier League match to be postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic after Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta - gearing up for his first return to the Etihad - tested positive for COVID-19.

Match preview

The wait has been significantly longer than expected, but the student will finally get his chance to pit his wits against the master when Arteta takes on Man City boss Pep Guardiola in this match.

City have used the three-month break to bring in a replacement for Arteta and Juan Manuel Lillo will be in the dugout alongside Guardiola for the first time on Wednesday as the defending champions aim to cling on to their title for as long as possible.

Being dethroned by Liverpool has seemed an inevitability for a long time now, but defeat to Arsenal could accelerate the process and leave Jurgen Klopp's side needing only one more win to make their title success official.

Guardiola himself will have been resigned to that fate for some time and may look to use the final nine games of the season to experiment ahead of what he hopes will be a fresh and more sustained title charge next season.

The relentless nature of the revised schedule means that even more rotation than usual is likely, while the new five-sub rule makes it more possible too, so Guardiola could come up against his former assistant with fresh ideas and tactics on Wednesday.

Prior to lockdown the feeling was that Man City would prioritise the Champions League in the closing stages of the campaign and, with that now likely to be pushed back to August, it leaves them with little left to fight for until then - particularly with a European ban hanging over their heads too.

Guardiola's nature will not accept any let-up from his players, though, and while their third derby defeat of the season against Manchester United seems a long time ago now, Man City will still be keen to provide a long-awaited response to that result in their most recent game.

That defeat was the seventh Man City have suffered in the Premier League this season, which is more than Wednesday's opponents Arsenal in ninth and the most Guardiola has ever experienced in a single league campaign throughout his managerial career.

Guardiola's side could now lose back-to-back games for the second time already this calendar year, having not suffered that fate once throughout 2019, although they will be pleased to be back at home for the first time since February 19, having taken 13 points from the last 15 available in the league at the Etihad.

However, home advantage looks likely to be worth less when football returns due to matches being played behind closed doors, which in the Bundesliga has resulted in a remarkable increase of away wins and decrease in home victories.

That will be music to the ears of an Arsenal side who play their next three Premier League games and four matches across all competitions on the road, not returning to the Emirates until July.

It also bodes well for a much-needed improvement away from home; Arsenal have won just one of their last 12 league outings on the road and only seven teams have picked up fewer top-flight points away from home in 2019-20.

Indeed, Arsenal's last five league away games - the most recent of which came way back on February 2 - have all ended in draws, while they have only kept three away clean sheets all season.

Only six teams have scored fewer goals on the road too, so they will be hoping that the Bundesliga pattern carries over against a Man City team that boasts the joint-best home defensive record in the division.

Arteta's side are at least hard to beat away from home - they have not lost such a game since November - but they will need to start turning their draws into wins if they are to make a late push for a Champions League spot this season.

The Gunners will certainly feel that they are still in the conversation for a Champions League place and victory on Wednesday could lift them as high as sixth, just two points off a fifth spot which, as things stand, would see them return to the top-tier European competition next term.

The break came at a time when they were finally starting to string a run of consistent results together, though, with three of their nine league wins this term having come in their three games immediately prior to lockdown.

Arsenal have not won four league games on the bounce since October 2018 and had only won four of their previous 23 prior to this recent run, so they will be desperate to pick up where they left off when play resumes.

Arteta's side are yet to taste a Premier League defeat this calendar year - the longest ongoing unbeaten run in the division - while they have kept three clean sheets in their last four league games, which is as many as they managed in their previous 23 before that.

The stoppage in play will have stunted that momentum, but it will have also given Arteta more time to impose his ideas and playing style on the squad which, judging by the improvement they have made under the Spaniard so far, can only be a good thing.

Man City Premier League form: DWLWWL
Man City form (all competitions): WWWWWL

Arsenal Premier League form: DDDWWW
Arsenal form (all competitions): WWWLWW

Team News

It is now almost a year since Leroy Sane last played for Man City - in the Community Shield in August - but the German winger is now ready to return having missed the entire 2019-20 campaign so far.

Match fitness is likely to be an issue for the rumoured Bayern Munich target, although every player - injury or not - will have seen their sharpness drop as a result of the league's suspension.

Sane's return leaves Guardiola with a clean bill of health ahead of the season's restart, with Kevin De Bruyne, Aymeric Laporte and Sergio Aguero having all long shaken off knocks they were carrying prior to lockdown.

Aguero's record against Arsenal could see him chosen to lead the line ahead of Gabriel Jesus, with the Argentine netting 11 times from 15 appearances in this fixture.

Arsenal have also seen a number of injury concerns clear up in the time off, with Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney back available and loanee Cedric Soares finally in contention to make his debut.

Calum Chambers remains sidelined for now, but Lucas Torreira is back on the training pitch and could feature having made good strides in his recovery from a fractured ankle.

The futures of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have regularly been in the headlines during lockdown, and the latter could break a club record should he enhance his Golden Boot chances by scoring at the Etihad.

The Gabon international has netted 49 times in 75 Premier League games for Arsenal and could become the club's fastest to reach the half-century milestone - a record currently held by Thierry Henry, who brought up 50 goals in 83 games.

Man City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Bellerin, Mari, Luiz, Tierney; Ceballos, Xhaka; Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Head To Head

Man City have dominated this fixture in recent years, winning each of their last six meetings across all competitions by an aggregate score of 17-2 - their best ever run against the Gunners.

The most recent meeting saw City cruise to a 3-0 victory at the Emirates in December, with all of the goals coming in the first half as De Bruyne netted either side of a Raheem Sterling strike.

Arsenal have not won a league game against Man City since December 2015, while you have to go back to January of that year for their last league win at the Etihad.

We say: Man City 2-0 Arsenal

This was a fascinating contest even before the three-month stoppage threw a number of other unique elements into the mix. Arteta knows Guardiola and Man City's style better than anyone, and the time off will have given him the chance to stamp his own mark on Arsenal.

A decreased home advantage will also give Arsenal more optimism, but their away record has been dreadful this season and Man City will be raring to go again. The hosts have the superior squad, with plenty of options on the bench too, so we are backing them to come away with all three points.

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