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Bragging Rights

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Manchester City vs Arsenal preview

This season, Arsenal and Manchester City have been England’s two most in-form teams. The two teams occupy the top two spots in the league title but, due to extraordinary circumstances, are yet to play each other this season. Their earlier clash was postponed after the demise of Queen Elizabeth II. 

Now the master in Pep Guardiola and apprentice in Mikel Arteta fight it out in the FA Cup fourth round. After their defeat to neighbours Manchester United, City are five points behind Arsenal, who also have a game in hand. And this game is more of a mental battle as both teams look to take bragging rights. 

Arsenal have been in near-perfect form this season, becoming only the seventh team in English top-flight league history to accumulate 50 points after 19 games. On top of that, they passed their sternest test yet in the league after defeating United 3-2. While they have missed out on signing Mykhailo Mudryk, they added the impressive Leandro Trossard to their ranks, who will offer more options for Arteta besides Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, and Eddie Nketiah. 

On the other hand, despite the near impossible goals-scoring heroics of Erling Haaland, Manchester City have dropped points at crucial points that have made them slip up in the title race. However, one defeat for Arsenal and City know the Gunners will feel uneasy with City. Moreover, they also have the experience of being involved in not one but two intense title races that they won on the last day by the barest of margins.

However, if Arsenal win their next league game, they will be ahead by eight points which will put pressure on City. Moreover, Guardiola’s men will also have the additional burden of the Champions League, where they are still looking for their first title.

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Manchester City vs Arsenal team news 

Except for Phil Foden, who Guardiola informed was suffering from a foot injury, Manchester City have no further injuries. This means Guardiola will have almost all his top players available for selection. However, with the Arsenal frontline boasting exceptional pace, Guardiola will surely prefer Nathan Ake at left-back and Manuel Akanji at the left-centre back, who can track back when faced with counter-attacks. Elsewhere, Stephan Ortega will be in goal as was the case in their previous FA Cup matches, while Julian Alvarez could be given a start in the attack.

Manchester City Predicted Line-up: Ortega; Walker, Dias, Akanji, Ake; Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Haaland, Alvarez

The Gunners are currently missing as many as four players for the clash against City. This includes long-term absentee Gabriel Jesus, winger Reiss Nelson, midfielder Mohamed Elneny and defender Ben White. Like City, Arsenal will also deploy their deputy goalkeeper Matt Turner in the starting 11. Elsewhere, Arteta could play the same squad he did against United if White returns from his injury.

Arsenal Predicted Line-up: Turner; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Nketiah

Key Players 

The Premier League record for goals by a single player in a 38-match season is 32 by Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. However, Erling Haaland has already reached 25 goals with half of the season remaining, which shows how brilliant he has been. The Norwegian has scored almost half of his team’s goals which shows his importance to the team. And he will be expected to add some more when they take on Arteta’s side.

For Arsenal, many players have put their hands up and delivered some eye-catching performances. However, while the front trio of Martinelli, Saka and Nketiah have been devastating, Martin Odegaard’s brilliance is helping run Arsenal like a well-oiled machine. Haaland’s countrymate has scored the most goals (eight) and provided the second-most assists (five) in the team, which showcases his importance to the team.

Manchester City vs Arsenal predictions 

This is one of the most highly awaited matches, given the form of the two teams. However, City will be more desperate for a win, given their standings at the table. While Guardiola would have conceded defeat in the title race, one has seen far bigger twists in the Premier League. 

On top of that, City have the added advantage of having the support of the home crowd. This might give them the edge over Arsenal. FootTheBall predicts a 2-1 win for Manchester City.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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