Manchester City Vs. Arsenal Preview Including Prediction, Team News And Expected Lineups

Two former colleagues renew their acquaintances on Saturday when Mikel Arteta and his Arsenal side head to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City and former mentor Pep Guardiola.

It was a perfectly normal start to the campaign for the hosts, who are five points and ten places behind their visitors in the embryonic Premier League table this weekend.

Arsenal fans were excited from the moment it looked like Arteta would step out of Guardiola's wing and steal the nest, and he certainly seems to have brought much of the mindset and success from his compatriot at the Etihad to the Emirates.

In fact, Arsenal have looked more like Man City than Man City themselves this season, and the Gunners know Saturday's win would leave them eight points ahead of the previous champions.

Guardiola's side have seen an air of invincibility and a record of one win, one draw and one loss in three games this season marks the worst start to the campaign since 2010/11.

City enter the weekend as they occupy 14th place in the table.  Although we are still a long way from drawing conclusions from the Premier League standings, they will know that another loss this weekend would be another early nail in their title hopes.

 Incredibly, Saturday will be the third matchday already this season that they have started in the bottom half of the table - as many as they had in their previous 375 outings, or almost 10 seasons, in the competition.

Things could quite easily be worse too; Man City will consider themselves relatively fortunate to have come away with a point from their last league outing before the international break as they played out an encapsulating 1-1 draw at Leeds United. Their season-opening win at Wolverhampton Wanderers could have gone a different way had the hosts taken their chances, too.

As it is, Man City are now in danger of going three Premier League games without a win for the first time since April 2017, when incidentally the third match in that run saw them draw 2-2 with Arsenal.

The Gunners are a club City have enjoyed themselves against in recent years, particularly in the league, but Arsenal have every reason to be confident and may even look to the blueprint of how Leicester City humbled Saturday's hosts in their only other home league game this season.

The Foxes ran out 5-2 winners on that occasion - a result which still stands out as extraordinary in a campaign which has seen more than its fair share of barmy scorelines already - to leave Man City in danger of losing their opening two home games of a league season for only the third time in their history.

That has not happened since 1953-54, but there will certainly be more people fancying an away win or draw in this match now than there would have been at the start of the season.

Much of that is down to Man City's own form, of course, but it also owes to a bright start to the campaign from Arsenal.

If Leicester's win is the blueprint for success at the Etihad then Arteta may have to live up to his promise to venture from the traditional 'Arsenal way' when needed, although his record against big teams is already better than anything Arsenal have seen in recent years.

Since Arteta took over Arsenal have beaten Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, the latter of whom they have overcome three times including an EFL Cup triumph at Anfield earlier this month.

The next target for Arteta will be to beat one of the established 'big six' away from home in the league, something they have not achieved since their last win at Man City in January 2015 - a dismal run of 28 such matches.

Indeed, their away form in general has not been great - only four wins in their last 20 stretching back to the opening day of last season.

There is still plenty to improve upon, then, but Arteta does appear to have steered Arsenal back onto the right path and the overwhelming feeling around the club at the moment is one of optimism.

The big-money deadline day signing of Thomas Partey has even had some pundits tipping the Gunners for a title challenge, and victory away to Man City would only add credence to their credentials.

Arsenal go into the contest having won eight of their last 12 Premier League outings - as many victories as they had achieved in their previous 28 top-flight games.

A 2-1 triumph over Sheffield United immediately before the international break means that the Gunners have now picked up more Premier League points than any other team since losing to Brighton & Hove Albion in their second game back after lockdown.

However, their solitary defeat this season came at champions Liverpool, when there was a noticeable gulf in class, so at the very least Arteta will be hoping to run Man City much closer this time around.

Man City are sweating over the fitness of star man and PFA Player of the Year Kevin De Bruyne, who trudged off during Belgium's defeat to England at Wembley and subsequently withdrew from the squad for their final Nations League game against Iceland.

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez  played down the problem after the match, but Guardiola is unlikely to take any risks over a muscle injury and so will likely hold De Bruyne back unless he is 100% fit.

Losing a player of such quality will always be a blow, but particularly given his record against Arsenal; the playmaker has been involved in seven goals in his last eight league starts against the Gunners and has scored more Premier League goals against them than he has versus any other side, three of his five coming last season.

There may be better news on the injury front when it comes to Raheem Sterling, who withdrew from the England squad with a hamstring problem.

That withdrawal was understood to be precautionary, though, and the forward, who has scored more goals than any other Premier League player in all competitions since the start of last season, could be in contention this weekend.

Guardiola will certainly be hoping so, with Sterling an option to lead the line in the continued absence of Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero, the latter of whom is nearing a return from his knee injury but is unlikely to be ready to start a game just yet.

Ilkay Gundogan is back available, though, while Oleksandr Zinchenko is also nearing a full recovery, so barring any further setbacks Guardiola could be back up to full strength in the near future.

Arsenal have a question mark hanging over their own star man after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang  withdrew from the Gabon squad with a sprained ankle, although he is expected to be fit.

The skipper scored both goals in Arsenal's 2-0 FA Cup semi-final win the last time these two sides met, but has played more Premier League minutes without scoring against Man City than he has any other opponent.

Arteta is also hopeful that Kieran Tierney will be available, despite being ordered to self-isolate for two weeks from Tuesday after being in close contact with Scotland teammate Stuart Armstrong, who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Arsenal are in talks with the authorities over a special dispensation to allow him to play, while new arrival Thomas is also in contention for his debut having joined up with his new teammates earlier this week.

Emile Smith Rowe, Pablo Mari and Shkodran Mustafi are all eyeing returns this month, while Gabriel Martinelli and Calum Chambers are longer-term absentees.

Manchester City possible starting lineup:

Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Mendy; Foden, Rodri, Gundogan; Bernardo, Mahrez, Sterling

Arsenal possible starting lineup:

Leno; Bellerin, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Ceballos, Thomas, Saka; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang

Head To Head

Man City have dominated this fixture in the league recently, winning the last six top-flight meetings and all by at least a two-goal margin - including 3-0 triumphs home and away last season.

Arsenal have not lost seven league games in a row against a specific opponent since a run against Ipswich Town stretching from 1974 to 1977, while their winless league run against City stretches back nine games to December 2015 - including four defeats from four at the Etihad in the Guardiola era.

However, they did win the most recent meeting in the semi-finals of the FA Cup last season and could now win back-to-back games against City for the first time in five years.

This is a very difficult match to call. Typically in recent years, Arsenal have looked like almost ideal opposition for the way Man City play, but that is changing with Arteta at the helm.

City are in poor form themselves too and the visitors will arrive at the Etihad with genuine belief that they can do a job on their hosts, as Leicester did. It is a match which could go either way, particularly with Man City missing so many key players through injury, so we're sitting on the fence with an entertaining score draw.