No one would have guessed this is how the lead-up to Arsenal’s first league match against Manchester City would have looked. Arsenal top of the league, having maintained that control of first for a majority of the season, relying on Eddie Nketiah as the current starting, and only, forward, and with a clouded backdrop of VAR controversy and financial misconduct allegations hanging over City.
Arsenal have lost six straight against City. 13 of the last 14 matches. The last time Arsenal beat Manchester City at home was 2015, thanks to goals from Theo Walcott and Oliver Giroud. In fact, Arsenal only has three home Premier League wins over Manchester City since Sheikh Mansour took over the club (2008). So to say recent history and form are against the Gunners in this one is a bit of an understatement.
Make sure to read this week’s Opposition Q&A where we asked Bitter and Blue their thoughts on the financial allegations, Gabriel Jesus, and a final score prediction.
- Fabio Vieira
- Gabriel Martinelli
- Amario Cozier-Duberry
- Kieran Tierney
- Ben White
- Jakub Kiwior
- Rob Holding
- Matt Turner
- Left Out: Gabriel Jesus (injury), Emile Smith Rowe (injury), Reiss Nelson (injury), & Mohamed Elneny (injury)
- I proposed the two switches for the last match, but they didn’t come, and not much changed. Listen, Martinelli and Ben White are really good players. Arsenal is top of the Premier League in part thanks to their performances this season. But the side clearly needs a shuffle. Why have these players if not to rotate the squad?
- Takehiro Tomiyasu was Arsenal’s primary starting right-back for most of last season and the club climbed from 8th to 5th. He is fully capable of starting.
- Arsenal signed Leandro Trossard in January because of what he brings to the attack and how his style of play fits well with the core group of players currently at the club. Rather than having him sub in for Martinelli for the last half hour yet another time, let’s see what he can do from the start at the Emirates against a side like Manchester City.
- Yes, there will be a lot more space behind City’s defense than Arsenal saw against Newcastle, Everton, or Brentford. But that’s where Martinelli in for the last half-hour puts pressure on City and may force them to make a defensive substitution. Plus, a spell as a late sub may be good for Martinelli.
- There is no official word at the time of writing if Emile Smith Rowe has been officially ruled out of the match, but his inclusion, even if for the option of 15-20 minutes would be a big boost.
How to watch
Wednesday (2/15) at 2:30 pm ET / 11:30 am PT on Peacock Premium.
Arsenal - 2
Manchester City - 2
If not in the first 15 minutes, this match offers the possibility to be a much more open affair than what either of these sides are often presented with this season. Both want to maintain possession and control the game, whoever presses better and which side has a defensive error first could decide this match. It’s all set up to be a very entertaining midweek fixture.