Master and Apprentice go head to head again as Manchester City host Arsenal at the Etihad on Saturday. Pep Guardiola is still in search of his first home win of the season having lost the first home game to Leicester city in an abysmal defensive display.
Since then, Guardiola has brought in a new center-back in Ruben Diaz and key defender Aymeric Laporte has since returned from injury. City will want to limit the errors from their first home game and limit the chances that Arsenal create.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta will come into this game on the back of a 2-1 win over Sheffield United, wanting to replicate the performance of their previous fixture against Man City which saw Arteta’s men eliminate the former league champions from the FA Cup last season. Both teams have made additions to their squad since that game with the Gunners able to acquire their key target, Thomas Partey. Arsenal look like a more confident side out of possession under Arteta than they did under previous management, The Gunners will play a counter attacking system which Arteta has leaned towards against teams that like to dominate possession.
Arsenal are most likely to lineup in a 3-4-3 formation, which could see the following faces feature:
GK: Bernd Leno
Since returning from injury Leno has looked in superb form, pulling off some spectacular saves and with the departure of Emi Martinez to Aston Villa, there is not a lot of competition for the German. He will be Arsenal’s go to shot-stopper in the Premier League with Runarsson expected to deputize in cup matches.
Defense: Gabriel, Keiran Tierney, David Luiz
Arsenal back three has been working like a charm for the three center backs, with David Luiz more suited to this system, it allows the Brazilian to use his ability on the ball to play accurate long passes to the front three. This system has also allowed new signing Gabriel to slot into the first team and adapt to the demands of the Premier League, the additional center back really helps solidify the backline and the team can quickly recover shape after possession is turned over.
Scottish Fullback, Keiran Tierney has been asked to fill in the role of the third center-back and he adds much needed pace to an otherwise robust defense, Tierney will be responsible for tracking runners and use his pace to hold up opposition allowing the team to recover during a Manchester City attack.
Midfield: Hector Bellerin, Thomas Partey, Dani Ceballos, Maitland-Niles
Thomas Partey is fit and looks set to make his Arsenal Debut, and what a game it will be for him to make his first appearance for the club, he will be handed the role of enforcer in this game over Elneny who has been starting in this position so far this season. The strength and presence that Partey will bring makes him a favorite to start this game.
The Ghanaian will look to stop counter attacks and break up plays as often as he can, with the creative burden falling on Dani Ceballos who has looked really sharp in the first few games, Arteta will be expecting a moment of Magic from Ceballos.
Bellerin who is adjusting to his role as wing-back has shown great signs of improvement under Arteta, he has more freedom to go forward with the extra center back in place. Maitland Niles will take responsibility for the left flank looking to halt Mahrez and Ferran Torres.
Forwards: Willian, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Top scorer for the club last season and club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will start as the left-winger with Willian on the opposite side, Lacazette will be the one that Arteta will play through the middle but he could swap positions with Aubameyang. The creative burden will fall on this front three as they will look to use their pace on the break and catch city off guard. With the team set up defensively the front three will have to pull the rabbit out of the hat themselves, Willian has seemingly teetered off since the opening day where he provided a hat-trick of assists, there has been very little from the former Chelsea man since and Arsenal would hope that he can replicate his opening day heroics.
There is a chance that Lacazette is left on the bench for this game, with Aubameyang playing through the middle and 21-year-old Eddie Nketiah starting alongside Willian.
The game reunites the two Spanish Managers, with both looking for no less than a win. Arteta does hold a trump card over Pep having worked with him previously, will the Arsenal manager be able to use Pep Guardiola teachings against him or will the Manchester City boss show that he is still the Master?
Arsenal Predicted Lineup – Bernd Leno; Gabriel, Keiran Tierney, David Luiz; Hector Bellerin, Thomas Partey, Dani Ceballos, Maitland-Niles; Willian, Aubameyang, Lacazette