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Arsenal vs. Manchester City: not in the face

The Gunners look to pick up their first points of the season.

Manchester City v Arsenal - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Arsenal travel to Manchester City looking to head into the international break with something in the Premier League to hang their hat on. So far, the Gunners have lost twice and failed to score in both times in the league, the first time the club has ever done that to start a season. There is a decent chance that Arsenal end the weekend 20th in the table.

But there would be reasons for that — facing Chelsea and Manchester City, the two title favorites, in the opening three matches is a brutal start. The Brentford loss stings a little bit, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette both missing out due to positive COVID tests either the day before or the day of the match made it much tougher. Less impactful but still probably disruptive, Willian and Alex Runarsson also tested positive. Ben White has since tested positive and had to miss the Chelsea match. And the Gunners have been beset by injuries — Thomas Partey, Gabriel Magalhaes, and Eddie Nketiah are all out. Hector Bellerin missed out last weekend and at the midweek with a thigh problem but should be alright.

Basically, there are plenty of reasons to believe that Arsenal are not the team and won’t be the team we saw the first two matchdays. The side will get healthy. The new players will settle in — Martin Ødegaard hasn’t even played in the Premier League yet. And the Gunners won’t have to face the best teams in the league every week.

And they may have caught a slight break today — both Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden miss out for Pep Guardiola’s side through injury. Neither injury is serious and both should be back after the international break, but they won’t be available to plague what has been an unexpectedly disorganized and shoddy defense from Arsenal to start the season.

A couple of good stats from @Orbinho about today’s matchup: the Gunners have failed to win in 11 straight meetings with City (9L, 2D). That is one off their record for consecutive matches against one team without a win — 12 against Liverpool from 1994-2003. Manchester City is one of three Premier League teams (Aston Villa, Burnley) against whom Mikel Arteta has not won a match in two or more meetings. In the last seven meetings between the clubs, Arsenal have taken as many shots (15) as City have scored goals. The Gunners have scored one in that stretch.

The stats aren’t pretty. The odds aren’t pretty. My expectations are low. But hey, it’s going to turn around against City at some point. Why not today?

PREDICTION: I’m feeling crazy today. I think Arsenal pull off a 2-2 draw.

Arsenal - Leno, Chambers, Holding, Kolasinac, Cedric, Xhaka, Smith Rowe, Tierney, Saka, Ødegaard, Aubameyang

Manchester City - Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodrigo, Gundogan, Bernardo, Grealish, Torres, Jesus

WHAT: Arsenal vs. Manchester City
WHERE: The Etihad
WHEN: Saturday, August 28th 4:30 am PT | 7:30 am ET | 12:30 PM BT
US TV: Streaming on Peacock.

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