Two sides that have been below par for the most part of this season meet at the Emirates on Sunday the 15th of December. The Premier League defending champions, City, currently lie 14 points behind Liverpool after 16 rounds of matches, while Arsenal’s victory over West Ham the other day was the Gunner’s first win in 10 matches. Both teams will be hoping for a win, that would kick-start a more consistent form for the rest of the season.
Anyone close to Arsenal fans at the final whistle of their match against West Ham would have heard the collective sigh of relief after winning their first match since the 24th of October – a home win over Vitoria in the Europa League. Despite that win in East London, the Gunners find themselves on 22 points, 24 points behind the league leaders, and seven points behind the 4th Champions League place.
Unai Emery has been sacked after Arsenal dreadful start to the season and Arsenal have turned to ex-Gunners Freddie Ljunberg, albeit on a temporary basis, until the next manager is appointed. With the visit of the defending champions, Arsenal would be hoping to build on their success at the London Stadium. However, there are some injury worries that threaten to derail this ambition. Nicolas Pepe is currently doubtful for the match after being a victim of some crunching tackles against the Hammers. A Nicolas Pepe absence definitely weakens an Arsenal attack.
Arsenal’s weakness this season is that they aren’t scoring enough goals, and show an equally bad performance in defence. They scored and conceded 24 games in 16 matches. Emery chopped and changed the defence multiple times with no success. Ljunberg has had a similar conundrum with three different central partnerships in his three matches so far. Should Arsenal not get the defence right, City have the firepower and the wherewithal to take advantage of a porous defence.
At the beginning of the season, no one would have predicted that City would be 14 points off the top of the table. And it almost feels as if the loss in the Manchester derby was a sort of nail in the coffin of not retaining the Premier League. Pep Guardiola’s statement that they “might not be able to compete” with the biggest teams in Europe is also puzzling. Maybe he was bluffing and trying to play mind games, it remains to be seen. In the previous season, Man City’s strength has always been their quick passing, moving teams from side to side, and their quick transitions from back to front. This season, however, a lot of that seems to be missing.
Other teams have gotten the wiser of the team’s tactics too, preferring to sit deep and hit them on the counter, a strategy that worked for Manchester United and Wolves at the Etihad. Another crucial element to note is that Fernandinho who acts as a destructive shield in the middle of the park is now deployed as a center back.
Arsenal have not won by more than 3 or more goals in five matches, and have only managed to win by 2 or more goals in one of their last five matches. It’s hard to see them score three goals or even winning by three goals. The safest bet is a handicap 0-3 away win for Manchester City. With Manchester City not exactly firing on all cylinders, you can also back an Arsenal win or draw. For more sports betting tips click here.
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