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The Big Match Tactical View: Man City vs Arsenal

Manchester City suffered a shock midweek defeat to Newcastle, but are strong favourites to bounce back with a victory over an injury-hit Arsenal side on Sunday.

Injury problems in defence for Arsenal?

Unai Emery is still seriously struggling in defensive positions, and it remains to be seen what sort of back four he's able to name here. Laurent Koscienly missed the midweek victory over Cardiff after being accidentally booted in the face by Romelu Lukaku last weekend, and is considered doubtful. Sokratis Papastathopoulos is definitely out having damaged his ankle in the same game, while Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin will be out for long periods, Konstantinos Mavrapanos is unlikely to be fit, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles was another who missed out in midweek.

We can be surely sure that Shkodran Mustafi will start in the centre of defence, but around him there are plenty of question marks. At right-back is could be Maitland-Niles, the increasingly sluggish Stephan Lichtsteiner or Carl Jenkinson, who returned to the fold with a substitute appearance in midweek. At centre-back it could be Koscielny - if not, Nacho Monreal will continue out-of-position in the centre with Sead Kolasinac at left-back. If Koscielny is fit, Monreal could return to his usual left-back position. Either way, Arsenal have problems in that position.

Guardiola may shuffle his pack

That would be problematic against any opposition, but against Manchester City it could be fatal. Sergio Aguero has a fine record against the Gunners and will make well-timed bursts into the channels, while on the flanks Pep Guardiola is likely to select the combination of Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling. Sane would surely terrorise Lichtsteiner or Jenkinson, while Sterling will exploit the space left by Kolasinac's energetic overlapping. It's tough to see Bernd Leno keeping a clean sheet.

In midfield, Guardiola is now able to call upon Kevin De Bruyne after his return to fitness, and the defeat to Newcastle was the first time this season he's been able to field his first-choice trio of De Bruyne, David Silva and Fernandinho - not that it helped. He might change his approach and return to Bernardo Silva here, perhaps in place of De Bruyne. He brings extra tenacity, as well as boasting great technical quality.

Arsenal likely to continue with diamond

Arsenal may seek to overload City in midfield with the use of a diamond, which they've used effectively against Chelsea and, to a lesser extent, Cardiff. Granit Xhaka should return in place of Mohamed Eleny, who was substituted at half-time in midweek. Lucas Torreira will play to the right, Matteo Guendouzi to the left.

Mesut Ozil wasn't particularly bright against Cardiff and probably isn't the right attacking midfielder for this contest, so Aaron Ramsey will likely replicate the man-marking job he did on Jorginho, and attempt to nullify Fernandinho. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is available but probably won't start, and the same is true of newcomer Denis Suarez.

The diamond means City's full-backs should be given license to fly forward. That could be dangerous if Benjamin Mendy returns, as has been rumoured, but Fabian Delph is less of a threat. On the other flank, Kyle Walker hasn't performed particularly well this season, and tends to hold his position more anyway.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alex Lacazette will probably start as a conventional strike duo for Arsenal, and be intent on looking for spaces in behind John Stones and Aymeric Laporte. Ederson's sweeping might be crucial in Manchester City's gameplan, although he has made some needless errors when coming out of his goal this season.

Back Man City -1 v Arsenal @ 1.80
Back Man City/Man City in the Half Time / Full Time market at anything over 1.95


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Arsenal has big problems. City will not allow itself to be mistaken again with such an unprepared opponent
already waiting .... I love EPL and such matches are just a holiday
EPLmaster, the main thing that had a lot of goals
sure to be a lot of heads. BTTS Yes is a good bet.
City it's time to come to life and be ruthless