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Arsenal vs. Manchester City match thread: not in the face

I have no positive expectations for this match.

Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Manchester City, they of the 17 straight victories in all competitions, the side that hasn’t lost in the Premier League since November, pay a visit to Arsenal and the Emirates today. I have no expectations for this match. The Gunners are probably losing this one. Arsenal have been playing better since Boxing Day, but Manchester City look an unstoppable juggernaut right now. They’ve also beaten Arsenal in seven straight in the league and have routinely scored 3+ goals against the Gunners while doing so.

The Gunners have an extremely important second leg against Benfica this upcoming Thursday, and I hope that Mikel Arteta rests players with an eye to that contest. Emile Smith Rowe needs some time off, as does Bukayo Saka. I’m not sure where Kieran Tierney’s fitness is (he got a run out against Benfica last Thursday), but however he is handled today should be geared towards having him back in-form for the Europa League. Basically, Arsenal should mail this one in. Obviously, they should still try for a result, but points aren’t likely today. Thursday’s match is infinitely more important.

Of course, with the way this Premier League season is going, Arsenal probably beat City 2-0 today, right? As we saw in the FA Cup run last summer, Mikel Arteta can beat Pep’s City. He certainly knows their strengths and weaknesses well and can use that to help design a gameplan.

That gameplan won’t be helped by Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero’s return to availability today. The pair of Manchester City stars have been out for a few weeks, but clearly, that hasn’t slowed the club down at all. Ilkay Gundogan has been particularly good in De Bruyne’s absence, and the Cityzens haven’t had any issues scoring without their first-choice striker in the lineup. I doubt Aguero starts today, but KDB might.

On Arsenal’s side of things, Thomas Partey is being assessed ahead of today’s match, but I’d be shocked if he played. He looks to be back at least in partial training, which is a decent sign for Thursday. Again, Arsenal probably aren’t getting anything out of today, and we all saw what happened when the Gunners rushed Partey back for the Tottenham match in November. I’d bet dollars to donuts they play it safe this time. Alex Runarsson picked up a knee injury in training and is being evaluated further.

Another little side bet: Arsenal manage to lose today in a way that, while I’m completely expecting the loss generally, still bugs me because “they could have gotten something.”

Oh yeah, did you know Mikel Arteta used to be an assistant coach at City under Pep?

Arsenal - Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Mari, Tierney, Elneny, Xhaka, Saka, Odegaard, Pepe, Aubameyang

Manchester City - Ederson, Cancelo, Dias, Stones, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Gundogan, Bernardo, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Sterling

WHAT: Arsenal vs. Manchester City
WHERE: The Emirates
WHEN: Sunday, February 28th 8:30 AM PT | 11:30 AM ET | 5:30 PM BT
US TV: Peacock only.

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