While other major leagues are wrapping up fixtures for their annual winter break, the Premier League is just getting revved up. On Sunday, Arsenal take on Manchester City at the Etihad and neither team can afford to drop points if they wish to stay close in the title race.
A few weeks ago you would not have thought this to be a do or die game. But circumstances have forced Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger into a state of urgency.
Chelsea are sitting top of the Premier League table with 40 points after 10 straights win. Chelsea play Crystal Palace on Saturday and if they win at Selhurst Park they will be 9 points clear of Arsenal and 10 points clear of City. For this City side to be 10 points behind anyone was utterly unthinkable. Conte’s men, knowing that at least one of their rivals will drop points this weekend will be relishing the chance to extend their lead. If Antonio Conte’s squad drop points on Saturday, then that makes Sunday’s game between these 2 would be contenders all the more crucial.
Arsenal lost to Everton mid-week in a game where Everton, a flawed side themselves, decided the best way to win was just to muscle Arsenal and it worked. Arsenal clearly missed German transfer Shkodran Mustafi in the heart of their defense who will also be missing Sunday.
Manchester City got things back on track mid-week by beating Watford at home and keeping a clean sheet. They still gave up chances, but nonetheless got the result. However, Wednesday’s game came at a huge price as Ilkay Gundogan suffered an ACL injury and is due for a very long spell on the sidelines.
Man City vs Arsenal Petting Prediction
Arsenal are the better team. Their style is not unbeatable but against a Man City team who are still figuring things out, they offer great value.
||Draw or Arsenal
With this line, you get to take them to come away from the Etihad with even a point. That being said they are more than capable of taking all 3 points. Neither side defends well as an entire team, but the injuries for Man City will be too much to overcome. Gundogan’s injury combined with Aguero and Fernandinho’s absence will cripple Pep’s side. Because of the fact that the back 4 (or back 3 depending on what Pep feels like playing that day) is not a solid cohesive unit, that makes the midfield protection in front of them all the more important. And that choice midfield to control a game and break up opposition play will not be available.
Now it will most likely be a combination of Fernando and Yaya Toure sitting in front of the defense and that will not thrill any City supporter. The prospect of Arsenal’s potent strike force led by Alexis Sanchez going up against a very penetrable defense makes the Gunners the play here.
Unlike the Toffees, City won’t be able to bully their way through this one. City will have their say but Arsenal can still field a back line of Koscielny, Paulista, Monreal and Bellerin, with two respectable holding midfielders in front of them. A back line who has more continuity from playing together in a known system. The system isn’t perfect but at least everyone knows their job. Furthermore, neither center back has to worry about marking Kun Aguero.
In net, I’ll take Petr Cech over Claudio Bravo every day of the week…and twice on Sunday
The Title Race Takes Shape Over the Holidays
Chelsea are sitting pretty. Now with a six-point lead, they get to spend the next month in London as they do not have to travel away from the city until mid-January. Furthermore their next 3 opponents are all bottom half sides where they will be heavily favored to win.
Liverpool, Man City, Spurs and Arsenal see what lies ahead for the league leaders and will be desperate to make ground during the congested winter schedule.
Man City have to take on Arsenal and Liverpool before the new year.
Before taking on City, Liverpool have a Merseyside derby this Monday.
Spurs and Arsenal look to have the most favorable schedules of all the teams chasing the Blues over the next few weeks and quite frankly as things stand, if they don’t reel off consecutive wins over this period, we may have a 1 horse race earlier than anyone expected.
Premier League Futures Odds at BET365
If you’re Chelsea, you get to spend the next month at home, see your family and friends at your leisure, sleep in your own beds every night, and try and bang out wins over these next few weeks. Doing so can make a difficult title hunt, very manageable.
For up to date picks and all things footy you can follow me on twitter @zahir_gilani
Category : Picks and Parlays
, Arsene Wenger
, Manchester City
, Pep Guardiola
, Premier League
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