A massive game in the title race awaits as league leaders Arsenal take on second place Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
This is a huge game in the hunt for Premier League glory, with Arsenal five points clear of their title rivals, but City with those two vital games in-hand.
A victory for the Blue half of Manchester would mean they’re just two points behind the Gunners, but Arsenal can extend their lead to eight with a win.
It’s all to play for…
Arsenal looked on course to march stress-free to their first Premier League title in almost 20 years – the famous Invincibles of 2003/04 were the last to do it – but they’ve wobbled recently and now, it looks in real danger.
2-0 up and cruising away to Liverpool at Anfield, it looked like another routine win for Mikel Arteta and his team, and a big step towards lifting the trophy.
But a Mohamed Salah goal just before half-time and a Roberto Firmino equaliser in the last few minutes pegged Arsenal back, giving City a sniff of hope.
Fast forward one week and again, Arsenal are 2-0 up and looking comfortable away to West Ham.
However, things started to unravel again as a Saïd Benrahma penalty brought the Hammers back into it, before Jarrod Bowen made things all-square. Another mistake and two more points gone.
City are now breathing down their necks, capitalising on every slip-up and piling on the pressure.
And this pressure looked to have got to Arsenal when they found themselves 2-0 down at home to bottom club Southampton. Carlos Alcaraz and ex-Gunner Theo Walcott giving the Saints a two-goal lead after just 15 minutes.
Gabriel Martinelli pulled one back, before Duje Caleta-Car restored Southampton’s cushion to two.
An unbelievable fight back in the dying minutes, with goals from Martin Ødegaard and Bukayo Saka, saw the game finish 3-3. Arsenal showed terrific character, but it will feel like yet another two points dropped for Mikel Arteta and his men.
It leaves them five points clear of City heading into Wednesday night’s game. Can they make it eight?
Just as they always do at this point of the season, Manchester City look relentless in their pursuit of Premier League glory, brushing teams aside with ease again and again.
A run of six straight league wins has them, arguably, now as favourites for the title given Arsenal’s recent form.
What makes things even more impressive is they’re still going strong in other competitions, too. They comfortably beat Bayern Munich over two-legs to reach the Champions League semi-finals, as well as getting to the FA Cup final with victory over Sheffield United.
But first, they’ll need a vital win on Wednesday to put themselves in a great position for the title. Victory would mean they sit two points behind Arsenal and with two games in-hand. From there, you’d expect them to finish the job.
City got the better of their title rivals in the reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium back in February. Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland securing all three points for the Citizens.
Arsenal went into that game without key-men Thomas Partey and Gabriel Jesus and they’ll be without some big players this time around, too, with Granit Xhaka, Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba all likely to be absent.
Manchester City will only be without defender Nathan Aké with a hamstring problem, but such is their squad depth, that shouldn’t be too big an issue.
Midfield will be where this game is won or lost and the likes of Ødegaard, Partey and Fabio Vieira will need to keep KDB and co. quiet, starving creativity and keeping Haaland out of the game as much as possible.
Ben White will have to be on his toes dealing with the in-form Jack Grealish down the left-hand side, while Oleksandr Zinchenko will likely be up against a confident Riyad Mahrez, who bagged a hat-trick in the FA Cup semi-final at the weekend.
Arsenal have been tremendous this season and huge credit must go to Mikel Arteta and his young, exciting squad of players.
But, we can’t see past a Manchester City win, here. Given the Gunners’ recent struggles and City’s relentless form, Pep Guardiola and his boys have to be the favourites.
We’re going with a 3-1 home win.
What do you think? Let us know on social media and keep it locked into @JDFootball over on Instagram and TikTok for all the build-up!
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JD Football | November 21, 2023