In the biggest game of the Premier League season to date, we go head-to-head with Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium with the division's top spot on the line.
Just three points separate the sides following the weekend’s results, as we aim to end a 10-league game losing run against Pep Guardiola’s team and defend our unbeaten home record this term while remaining top of the table in the process.
City may have won on each of their last six trips to Emirates Stadium, but this season they head to N5 having lost their last three away games, and no team in history has ever won seven-straight league games on our own turf.
Unexpectedly inconsistent City
For a side who have made their name by stringing together lengthy winning runs to power them to championships, this season has seen City struggle to find a run of form, as incredibly they’ve not yet won four successive league games all season.
Early in the campaign they dropped points at Newcastle United and Aston Villa, before suffering defeats at the hands of Liverpool and Brentford before the World Cup break. They ended 2022 with a draw at home against struggling Everton, and soon found themselves tasting defeat in the Manchester derby.
It seemed as though the corner was being turned when they beat Tottenham Hotspur, Wolves and then ourselves in the FA Cup during January, but defeat at the hands of Spurs halted their momentum once again, before they swatted aside Aston Villa 3-1 on Sunday.
Michael Cox, writing in the official matchday programme: Guardiola is known for springing a surprise in big matches, and will surely have something unexpected planned for this crucial fixture.
Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez have been in good form recently, and seem the first-choice options out wide, instead of Phil Foden. Kevin De Bruyne remains a devastatingly effective passer, and has struck up a good relationship with Erling Haaland, often with curled crosses from the inside-right position to the far post.
Rico Lewis appears to have been coached specifically to play the unusual full-back-cum-central-midfielder role from the right, meaning at times City’s back four effectively turns into a back three, with Lewis further up the pitch.
Rodri usually plays a holding midfield role, while only Ederson has played more Premier League minutes for City this season than him. His booming goal kicks mean City can offer a more direct approach to Haaland than Guardiola’s usual favoured possession play.
What the managers say
Arteta: "We’ll play with 15 players tomorrow! [Our supporters] are so into it with every single ball and giving us energy and support, and basically everything they have been doing. Let’s enjoy it, a beautiful night on a really special day.
"We are comparing two very different teams. One with huge experience of [winning titles] and a lot of our players have never done it. We want to use that energy and that anger that we have inside to make the most out of it." - hear everything from Mikel's pre-match press conference
Guardiola: “Of course it’s important because we can take the points, and the best team so far can’t. But after we have to go to Nottingham Forest and the Champions League and we have the next six fixtures away.
I have the feeling that many things can happen. The target is tomorrow will help us to be there in the last eight to 10 games. There are many tough games away and home for all the contenders.
“Of course, we can’t deny it’s so important for us. If we handle all the aspects these types of games give to you, it’s a big difference.”
It remains to be seen if Emile Smith Rowe or Reiss Nelson are fit enough to return to the squad after their recent injuries, with Arteta admitting he'll make a late call on the duo. However, Gabriel Jesus and Mohamed Elneny are still unavailable.
City's top scorer Haaland was withdrawn at half-time against Aston Villa on Sunday, and Guardiola has admitted he won’t risk his star striker if there was a risk of aggravating the issue, but he was pictured participating in a recovery session on Monday.
Also involved was Foden, who has been missing for a couple of weeks through injury and illness, but John Stones remains out after picking up a hamstring strain against us in the FA Cup last month.
Facts and stats
We have named the same starting XI in each of our last six Premier League games – we've never done so in seven consecutive matches in the competition before.
We have failed to win consecutive Premier League matches for the first time this season. However, we’re unbeaten in our last 13 home league games (W11 D2), last having a longer run without defeat at the Emirates between August 2018 and April 2019 (16).
We have lost our last 10 Premier League games against Manchester City, our longest losing run against an opponent in our league history.
Manchester City are the only side Mikel Arteta has failed to beat in the Premier League.
Man City have lost their last two away games; they've only lost three in a row on the road once under Pep Guardiola, doing so in July 2020.
Leandro Trossard has already scored against Man City this season, netting in Brighton's 3-1 defeat at the Etihad in October.
It’s a quick reunion with Anthony Taylor, who previously took charge of us on New Year’s Eve when we beat Brighton. He has been a good omen for us, as he was also in charge of our opening-day win at Crystal Palace, and October’s derby success over Tottenham Hotspur.
In fact, we have lost just six of the 47 games he has overseen, and won each of the last eight. However, we haven’t beaten City in the two occasions he has handled games between us - dismissing David Luiz in a 3-0 loss in Manchester in June 2020, with the other ending in a 2-2 home draw in 2016.
- Referee: Anthony Taylor
- Assistants Referee 1: Gary Beswick
- Assistant Referee 2: Adam Nunn
- Fourth Official: Darren England
- VAR: David Coote
- Assistant VAR: Marc Perry
Recent visits from City
Guardiola’s team last pitched up in N5 on New Year’s Day 2022, when a last-minute Rodri goal snatched victory for the visitors. Bukayo Saka had given us the lead, but a Mahrez penalty and a red card for Gabriel helped change the game.
That was their seventh-straight win on our patch in all competitions, stretching back to April 2017 when we played out a 2-2 draw, when Theo Walcott and Shkodran Mustafi netted our goals.
The previous encounter in December was when we recorded our last home victory over City, with Walcott on target again and Olivier Giroud grabbing what proved to be the winner in a 2-1 success.
Watch some classic goals and home wins against City in our playlist
The big game coverage kicks off at 6.30pm right here on Arsenal.com and the official app, with Nick Bright and Adrian Clarke hosting Breakdown Live at Emirates Stadium.
They will be joined in the studio by singer and Gooner Patoranking who will be revealing all about his love of the club, while there will be a look at Gabriel's time in north London as he closes in on a century of appearances.
There will also be analysis of Manchester City's threats and weaknesses, before they hand over to Dan Roebuck and Jeremie Aliadiere who will provide live audio commentary. of the game - so don't miss out!
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