Death, taxes and Manchester City roaring back to life in a Premier League title race. As Arsenal dropped two points for the third consecutive game, it provided a golden opportunity for defending champions Manchester City to get back into the title race. Mikel Arteta’s men, for long parts, had a significant lead, sometimes stretching up to eight points which gave their team and fans encouragement of ending their 19-year title drought.
However, now Arsenal are only five points ahead of their rivals, who have played two games less. And to make matters worse for the Gunners, their next opponent is none other than Manchester City. Mikel Arteta and Pep Guardiola know that victory in this match will most likely be pivotal in deciding whether the trophy ends up at the Emirates or Etihad come May 28.
When Arsenal welcomed Manchester City to their stadium in February, they lost the match 3-1. Now they must probably complete their most significant challenge in recent years if they want to keep their lead atop the table.
City’s back three vs Arsenal’s front three
Guardiola’s altering of tactics to a three-man backline has worked wonders for City. And despite massive rotation in the defence, the results have kept coming. Guardiola prefers Dias in the centre of the backline, with the remaining two spots being occupied by two of the quartet of John Stones, Aymeri Laporter, Nathan Ake, and Manuel Akanji.
Dias has emerged as the leader of the pack and has been flawless for his team. However, depending on the opposition’s attackers, his partners have changed. Since Arsenal’s front three of Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus, and Bukayo Saka are one of the paciest in the league, Guardiola will most likely opt for Ake and Akanji, whose pace will ensure City are not caught out of position during a counter-attack.
Since Manchester City will spend the majority of the match playing in the opposition’s half, given their quality, Aretea will place his team in a way where they will look to pounce on any mistake and get City on the counter.
⚔️🍿 Wednesday, 26th April. Man City vs Arsenal. You cannot not miss this. pic.twitter.com/IaFbbSIVhw
— EuroFoot (@eurofootcom) April 21, 2023
Kevin de Bruyne vs Martin Odegaard
One has been the king of midfield in the Premier League ever since joining City in 2015. During the same time, Martin Odegaard was then 16 years, but he was equally sought after by several top clubs who wanted to add him to their youth ranks.
Eight years later, the duo will face off as they look to create chances plenty for their team. Both midfielders have been in crystal form this season which is the reason behind their team’s incredible seasons.
Kevin de Bruyne has scored five goals but has provided a whooping 15 assists, the most by any player in the league. He has also been the most dangerous player in the league with an Expected Threat (xT) rating of 6.08, third only to Lionel Messi and Vinicius Jr across the top five leagues.
Another great stat that proves his creative genius is the Expected Offensive Value Added (xOVA), where he ranks second only to Lionel Mesi across the top five leagues.
Martin Odegaard, on the other hand, has been more balanced, scoring and creating goals in equal measure. And he has not been far behind De Bruyne, ranking third on the xT metric in the league and fifth on the xOVA.
The due are also among the top five players in the league regarding chances created (De Bruyne 90 vs Odegaard 65) and through balls (De Bruyne 25 vs Odegaard 23).
Erling Haaland vs Aaron Ramsdale
Erling Haaland has broken records left, right and centre this season with his brutal goal-scoring form. With 32 goals in the league, Haaland is just one goal away from breaking Mohamed Salah’s record of scoring the most goals in a 38-game season.
Haaland has also been accurate, hitting 48 of his 96 shots on target, one of the best records across the top five leagues.
However, Haalaand will face the most in-form goalkeepers in the top five leagues in Aaron Ramsdale. The shot-stopper has kept 12 clean sheets in the league and has performed best when the team needed him the most.
However, in Haaland, he will face perhaps the most in-form strikers in the world. And to stop a player like Haaland will require a perfect combination of the Arsenal backline, which they will need to do if they are to get anything out of the match and keep their lead at the top of the table.
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Can Arsenal still win the league?
The Premier League title race has turned on its head in just two weeks. With three draws, Arsenal have thrown away a lead that had taken them months to accumulate. Now they stare at the prospect of going to Manchester City and getting away with three points, which will be one of their most significant victories in the 21st century.
However, Manchester City have come in the form at the best of times. In addition, their brilliant performance against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League will give them even more confidence.
Furthermore, Guardiola and Manchester City know that they are still on course for a treble, which will provide them with added motivation to go and pick up all three points against Arsenal. Mikel Arteta’s men have proved time and again this season that can stage a comeback, although their recent form suggests, the title decider has already been decided in the favour of Pep Guardiola and Manchester City.
Barring any miracle late in the season, it looks like Manchester City will have a hattrick of titles comes the end of the season, becoming only the second team to do so after city rivals Manchester United.