It’s hard to believe, but an Arsenal win over Manchester City today would lift the Gunners to within four points of the top four. Heading into the West Ham match, the Gunners were four off the drop zone. The middle of the Premier League table is a congested mess, and frankly, Arsenal are fortunate that to be on the periphery of “in the running” for a meaningful finish. There have been seasons where a run of form similar to that at Arsenal over the past two months would have cemented an out-of-even-the-Europa-League-places finish for a club.
Other than Liverpool and probably Leicester, are any of the Premier League teams any good? Chelsea started poorly, went on a tear, but have coming crashing down to Earth. Manchester City are faltering. Both Spurs and Manchester United have been inconsistent. Sheffield United and Wolves have surprised but may not have the quality or the consistency to put together an entire season at that level. The Gunners may have lucked into having their worst season in recent history coincide with a down year overall in the league.
Let’s not kid ourselves — beating Manchester City, even at the Emirates, is a tall order. And it’s not as if Arsenal are a team reborn under Freddie Ljungberg. But for bursts of brilliance against the Hammers and against Standard Liege, the Gunners have looked pretty much the same as they have all season — mediocre. The defense is still shaky and won’t be helped by the absences of Hector Bellerin (short-term hamstring issue) and Kieran Tierney (three-month-plus dislocated shoulder). Granit Xhaka is out after suffering a concussion on Monday. There had been concern about Nicolas Pépé’s fitness after he was on the wrong end of a nasty challenge from Aaron Cresswell, but he is expected to be available.
Manchester City will be without Sergio Aguero and John Stones, who join long-term absentees Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte in the training room. David Silva and Ederson are questionable.
Today’s match is a pivotal one in Freddie Ljungberg’s time in charge at the Emirates. He is reportedly not happy with the lack of staff surrounding him at London Colney. I’d guess that part of the reason Arsenal haven’t hired out around him is the club is not certain how long he will be in charge. If the Gunners acquit themselves well, I’d wager he sees out the season. If they lay an egg, I’d bet they hire a full-time manager before the January window. So, no pressure.
Your City team for today!— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 15, 2019
Ederson, Walker, Fernandinho (C), Otamendi, Mendy, Gundogan, Rodrigo, Foden, De Bruyne, Sterling, Jesus
Subs | Bravo, Zinchenko, Angelino, Bernardo, Mahrez, Cancelo, E Garcia
#ARSMCI #ManCity pic.twitter.com/EjFY9cjJFY
WHAT: Arsenal vs Manchester City
WHERE: The Emirates Stadium, London
WHEN: 11:30am EST/8:30am PST/4:30pm BST
HOW TO WATCH: NBC Sports. Streaming on NBCSports.com
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