Manchester City are scheduled to host Arsenal in the midweek Premier League clash from the Etihad Stadium. The Cityzens have definitely surrendered their league title with the staggering 25-point gap to leaders Liverpool but they can delay the Reds’ procession to the trophy by at least another week by winning the next couple of games.
The Gunners, on the other hand, still have a realistic chance of securing Champions League football after winning three league games on the spin. They are currently five points behind Manchester United for the fifth spot, which guarantees a route into the competition’s group stage for the moment.
Mikel Arteta’s side have the chance to reduce that deficit with their game in hand against the Cityzens. However, the club face a difficult task, considering they have failed to pick up a single point against their opponents in the previous five league meetings.
Meanwhile, the holders have always responded in a strong manner after suffering defeats in the Premier League. Pep Guardiola’s team succumbed to a 2-0 derby loss to Manchester United at the weekend and the players will definitely want to come up with a positive reaction on Wednesday.
Players to watch out for:
Kevin de Bruyne – Manchester City: The Belgium international has missed the past two games for the Cityzens with a shoulder problem and his absence was felt in the Manchester derby where the club struggled to find a creative spark in the final third. The 28-year-old has returned to training ahead of the midweek Premier League game and Guardiola would definitely count on his services, provided he passes the fitness test. De Bruyne was the standout performer in the club’s 3-0 win at the Emirates in December. He opened the scoring within two minutes with a first-time shot in the box before sliding the pass for Raheem Sterling’s tap in. He put the game beyond the Gunners’ reach in the 40th minute with a stinging low shot from distance.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Arsenal: The 30-year-old has been instrumental in the Gunners’ Champions League pursuit, having contributed 17 of their 40 goals in the Premier League this season. Aubameyang has generally featured on the left wing since Mikel Arteta took over at the helm but that has not restricted him from creating chances on goal. However, his task won’t be easy on Wednesday, considering he could come up against right-back Kyle Walker, who is one of the fastest players in the Premier League. Aubameyang has recently found success with a couple of headed goals and his teammates may be urged by Arteta to deliver more crosses into the box to test the Cityzens backline, which has been vulnerable at times.
Pep Guardiola will come up against Mikel Arteta, who was his assistant when the Gunners were beaten 3-0 at the Emirates in December. Arteta will obviously have a good knowledge over the tactical system followed by Guardiola, but that may not be sufficient to prise away a surprise win.
Arsenal have not won a single away game against the so-called big-six since the 2-0 win over the Cityzens in February 2015. We don’t see them ending the unwanted run on Wednesday, given they continue to concede scoring chances, which a team of Manchester City’s calibre should capitalise on.
Manchester City 2-0 Arsenal
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