Why Man City Must be Wary of This Arsenal

Manchester City will face Arsenal, who have won their past four league games and are now in fourth place. The current Arsenal squad is in good form and motivated and should therefore be a much harder test for the current league leaders Manchester City.

You can only defeat what is in front of you, and that has been the theme of most Manchester City vs. Arsenal games. Pep Guardiola’s club has won the past nine league games between the two sides, seldom needing to shift gears.

Mikel Arteta is also not blameless in this regard. When Norwich lost 5-0 in August, it appeared that they had clinched the status of the worst team at the Etihad this season, but Arsenal were poorer a week later when they were thrashed by the same margin; a month later, League One’s Wycombe Wanderers showed more organization and danger.

However, Arsenal has made significant progress since then, with just the Blues now having a better run. This is the most challenging match City could face right now, with all the doomsayers declaring the end of the Premier League battle and competitive football for the forseable future.

The players may be in for an unpleasant shock if they arrive expecting to wipe the floor with Arsenal, as they usually do.

Raheem Sterling has re-entered the City lineup, and watching the Brentford match from the benches can only put him up well to start against Arsenal.

After a difficult start, the England international has climbed the scoring rankings, and a player who enjoys setting goals for himself is now just one goal away from a few useful markers.

In addition to attempting to score in 5 consecutive league matches for the first time in his career, a goal at the Emirates would lift him above Bernardo to become the club’s top scorer in the league this season, as well as move him to number ten in across all competitions, a feat only Riyad Mahrez (12) has achieved.

With Arsenal in desperate need of everything to go their way, the news that Mikel Arteta had tested positive for Covid (again) only days before facing City (again) was not ideal. The fact that he will not have to face off in the technical area should work in Guardiola’s favor.

This is City’s final away encounter against a top team in the league this season. Going to West Ham in May will not be easy, but the Blues have already visited Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United in the first half of the season.

Guardiola can look forward to facing competitors at the Etihad once Arsenal is out of the way, starting with Chelsea in a 2 weeks.

December was a struggle, with the Brentford-Arsenal match in particular being a drag, but after this game, January appears to be a foregone conclusion for the Blues.

An FA Cup clash against a League One club is scheduled for next Friday and should allow City to  rest several of its key players, with a whole week to plan for Chelsea at home, and a further full week to prep for Southampton away, followed by a two-week breather in between.

Over the previous month, a lot of players have been absent or battling Covid, but there are plenty of rest days on the horizon.

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