EPL: Arsenal vs Manchester City Preview

EPL: Arsenal vs Manchester City Preview

The opening round of the 2018/19 Premier League campaign kicks off with a bang as Arsenal begin life after Arsene Wenger with a match against champions Manchester City. 

New Gunners boss Unai Emery will come face to face with fellow Spaniard Pep Guardiola at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Arsenal vs Manchester City
Sunday 12 August
Emirates Stadium
17:00


Guardiola’s men achieved a record 100 points last season to secure the title, so Emery will certainly have his work cut out for him.

To Win
Arsenal 24/10
Draw 11/4
Man City 21/20

Arsenal
This will be Emery’s first big challenge as Arsenal manager and a good result against his Spanish adversary would really stake his claim in the toughest league in the world. The Gunners were torn to shreds against Manchester City last season. In three meetings which they all lost, they conceded nine goals – three in each game – while finding the net just once. Emery will be keen to make an instant impression on Arsenal fans after replacing the legendary Wenger.

In May, Guardiola praised Arsenal’s appointment of Emery, citing his success in Spain and France.

“[Emery is a] top manager. His career speaks for itself,” Guardiola said.

“He did it perfectly in Spain with many teams: Valencia, Sevilla - and he did really well in France.”So, welcome to England. Another good manager is coming here.”
Arsenal have looked impressive under Emery in pre-season. They started off with an emphatic 8-0 win at non-league Boreham Wood behind closed doors. In the International Champions Cup, they played to a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid, losing in a meaningless penalty shoot-out. The Gunners then ran riot against Paris Saint-Germain in a 5-1 victory with Alexandre Lacazette bagging a brace.

Up next was a tough test against Chelsea which Emery’s side drew 1-1 thanks to Petr Cech’s penalty save against Alvaro Morata and Lacazette's injury-time equalizer. Arsenal beat their London rivals 6-5 on penalties. The Gunners ended their preseason campaign with a 2-0 victory over Lazio in Sweden. With 17 goals scored and just three conceded, Arsenal should have built up a lot of confidence in the last few weeks, as well as gaining the fitness required for the physically demanding Premier League.

Arsenal finished sixth in the Premier League last season, but that was largely due to suffering from travel sickness, losing 11 times on the road. At the Emirates Stadium, they secured 15 victories and were only outscored at home by City.

Of Emery’s signings, I’m only expecting Sokratis Papastathopoulos to start this match, alongside Shkodran Mustafi in defence, although, Lucas Torreira, who joined from Sampdoria, is a possibility in midfield. French youngster Matteo Guendouzi impressed in the friendlies but he isn’t likely to feature, while Sead Kolasinac and Laurent Koscielny are certain to miss the game with long-term injuries.

City will need to pay close attention to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a one-time target for Guardiola. The former African Footballer of the Year joined the north London club from Borussia Dortmund in January, making 13 appearances (12 starts) and scoring 10 goals with four assists. Aubameyang will look to fire the Gunners to victory on Sunday.

Arsenal’s last win against City came in December 2015 when goals from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud gave them a 2-1 win at the Emirates. With a number of Guardiola’s key players returning late from Russia 2018, the Gunners will prefer taking City on at this stage, before Guardiola can get them back to full speed.

Manchester City
Manchester City come into their opening Premier League match high on confidence after beating Chelsea 2-0 at Wembley last Sunday to win the Community Shield. Sergio Aguero hit a brace for Guardiola's side, becoming the first player to score 200 goals for Manchester City, taking his club record to 201.

Guardiola was happy with the result but revealed his players are still well short of full fitness after only a handful of training sessions following the World Cup.

"We are satisfied, but still we are far away from the (best) physical condition. The players are in bad, bad conditions," Guardiola said.

City played just three pre-season friendlies before beating Chelsea last weekend. Guardiola was without many of his stars in USA for the International Champions Cup due to their World Cup exploits. City lost their opening friendlies against Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool, but did extremely well to come from 2-0 down to beat Bayern Munich.

City started last season’s record-breaking campaign by dropping just two points in 20 games and Guardiola's men will look to get their title defence off to a winning start against Emery’s side. The Citizens faced the north London outfit three times last season, coming out on top in all three meetings, netting three goals in each match. They completed a league double over the Gunners in Wenger’s final season at the helm, winning 3-1 at the Etihad and 3-0 at the Emirates. City also beat Arsenal 3-0 at Wembley to lift the Carabao Cup.

Guardiola's men will look to extend their winning streak over the north London side. Last season, City won 16 of their 19 games away from home, losing just once – 4-3 away to Liverpool in January. They were the only side to hit the 40-goal mark on their travels, netting 45 goals while they shipped 13.

Probable line-ups:
Arsenal: 4-2-2-2
Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Maitland-Niles; Xhaka, Ramsey; Ozil, Mkhitaryan; Aubameyang, Lacazette.

Manchester City: 4-3-3
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy; David Silva, Fernandinho, Bernardo; Mahrez, Sane, Aguero.

Verdict: Draw (11/4)
This is a very tough call because it’s so early in the season. It’s Unai Emery’s first home game in charge of Arsenal and you’d expect the Gooners in the stands to be fired up. Although Emery is a coach who enjoys attacking football, he’ll be cautious when attacking City. As much as both teams will want to start the season off with a win, neither side will want to lose the opening game. It’s always a big call when you don’t back a City win, but I’m going for the draw here.


Written by  Chadley Nagel


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