Manchester City host Arsenal in the biggest game of the season by far. Man City come into the game flying high while Arsenal are in a rough patch following their most recent blunder where they couldn’t overcome a resilient Southampton side, eventually snatching a point out of the game.
No one could have predicted just how much Saliba’s injury would mean for Arsenal’s form as they conceded a total of 9 goals in their last 5 games without him. Chances of him coming back for this game are slim to none but if he was ever going to be risked, the time is now.
Manchester City will be the happier of the two sides going into this one as a potential win puts them in the driving seat completely. A loss could be fatal for Arsenal’s title chances and the Gunners will have to give everything they have at their disposal to win this one. Heroes are made here and big players will have to step up for Arsenal.
But Arsenal are playing against themselves, many would say. Last couple of games have seen unexplainable decisions from some of their key players and they have to get out of this rut now. If they go on to lose this title, they would only have themselves to blame. All on the line.
Man City’s form (all competitions): W D W W W.
Arsenal’s form (all competitions): D D D W W.
When & Where?
Date: Wednesday, 26 April, 2023.
Time: 20:00 BST
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Takehiro Tomiyasu and Mohamed Elneny are out indefinitely while Granit Xhaka is thought to be back in contention after missing the last game. Arsenal will be sweating over the fitness of Saliba as he still struggles with an ongoing back problem. It’s unknown whether Arsenal are prepared to risk him for a game of this magnitude.
Only Nathan Ake could potentially miss out on this one for City as his return date is yet unknown.
A clash of similar philosophies, with all to play for.
Last time out, Manchester City willingly (?) gave up possession for a more direct style of play through Haaland. Arsenal ended the game with 63% possession but with nothing to show for it as they conceded three while scoring with their only shot on goal.
Something tells me Guardiola won’t go for the same tactic as the environment of a home game will enable them to gain control of the game much easier. Stones has been flourishing in his new found role and Guardiola’s likely to keep the same shape. Both him and Rodri provide a very decent pairing when Stones inverts and they ll look to nullify Arsenal’s midfield danger once again.
Whichever team can dominate the 50-50 duels will likely go out with all three points on the day. Arteta has a real tangible problem in his backline as Holding’s presence is mostly felt in a deep block while real problems occur whenever he’s pressurized to be creative on the ball while playing out from the back and step up in a high line. Only other solutions would mean a total change in dynamics or playing a higher-quality player in a position which doesn’t suit him (Kiwior, Tierney RB etc.). Nerves spread like fire throughout a low-belief team and Holding certainly doesn’t help with that.
Xhaka back in the lineup will be huge for Arsenal as Partey often gets left isolated with a player like Vieira filling in at LCM. Also the dynamics are well known with Granit Xhaka and his presence is much needed in this young team.
Laporte might get the run out at left back with Ake out and that’s the side Arsenal should target. Ake’s shown he can deal with Saka and City are likely to feel him missing out in the lineup.
Martinelli has been on fire this season and currently holds the top place of the highest-scoring Brazilians in the top five league with his 15 league goals. Needless to say, he’s Arsenal’s number one scorer and their most dangerous finisher. His form has been heating up for the run in and I expect him to come up with the goods once again.
Playing like a man possessed, there isn’t much you can say about him that hasn’t already been said. 32 league goals, 6 goals in his last 5 games. A force of nature who’ll once again look to target Arsenal’s defenders and catch them sleeping. Likely to target Holding.
Predicted Arsenal lineup vs Manchester City: Ramsdale; White, Holding, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard; Saka, Jesus, Martinelli.
Predicted Man City lineup vs Arsenal: Ederson; Stones, Dias, Akanji, Laporte; Rodri, Grealish, De Bruyne, B.Silva, Mahrez; Haaland.