With the pressure continuing to intensify on Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger, a fixture against in-form Manchester City would probably not be high on his wish-list. The Gunners have slipped out of contention for a top-four spot since the turn of the year and currently sit sixth in the Premier League. Wenger’s future has been the subject of heated debate and speculation since Arsenal crashed out of the Champions League to Bayern Munich earlier this month. The Frenchman has yet to reveal his decision on whether he will sign a new contract, but defeat to third-placed City at the Emirates on Sunday could well turn more of the club’s fanbase against him.
Arsenal have lost four of their past five Premier League encounters, with a victory over Hull City the only bright spot amid a miserable run of results. Although they do have two games in hand on Liverpool, the six-point deficit will not be easy to overturn given their current mindset. Defensively the Gunners have really struggled, conceding 12 goals in their previous six matches. City, on the other hand, are unbeaten in the top-flight since January 15. Four consecutive wins stabilised their season, although back-to-back draws against Stoke City and Liverpool have stalled the momentum somewhat. Nevertheless, they remain on course to qualify for the Champions League, which was the minimum requirement for Pep Guardiola.
Wenger confirmed in his pre-match Press conference that Santi Cazorla has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a serious Achilles tendon injury. Goalkeeper Petr Cech is also sidelined with a calf injury that forced him off in the defeat to West Bromwich Albion a fortnight ago. Lucas Perez is doubtful with a thigh strain but Mesut Ozil could return to the fold after illness. Guardiola will be unable to call upon the services of long-term casualties Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus and is also waiting for news on Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna and Kevin de Bruyne. Club captain Vincent Kompany is back in full training, however.
Arsenal Manchester City
Verdict: Arsenal 1-1 Manchester City
Arsenal are desperate for a return to winning ways to arrest their slide, but face a daunting challenge here. City have been unpredictable, but on their day they are unplayable and Wenger will be wary of giving them too much time on the ball. Guardiola will hope that his free-scoring side can capitalise on the hosts’ defensive frailties. Likewise, Wenger will also feel his side can cause the visitors problems. With that in mind, a score draw seems a fair bet.