For the fifth time in 2023, we tackle Manchester City as we aim to maintain our longest unbeaten start to a season since 2007/08 and overhaul our opponents in the table heading into the international break.
While we made it five wins and two draws from our opening seven games by beating Bournemouth last weekend, at the same time Pep Guardiola’s team fell to a 2-1 defeat at Wolves. However, they’ve not lost back-to-back league games since 2018.
The reigning treble holders head to north London juggling numerous suspensions and injuries in recent weeks, and having pipped them to the Community Shield back in August we head into this particular encounter with many reasons to believe we can finally end a 12-game league-losing run against the Sky Blues.
Things were going swimmingly for City until recent weeks. Six straight wins in the Premier League propelled them to top spot, while Red Star Belgrade were seen off in their Champions League opener as the Treble winners picked up where they left off at the end of last season.
But a rotated side were beaten 1-0 by Newcastle United at St James’ Park to end their interest in the League Cup at the first hurdle, and then Wolves stunned Guardiola’s team by clinching a 2-1 success at Molineux to end the unbeaten league start.
Normal service was resumed on Wednesday night when RB Leipzig were swept aside 3-1 away from home in the Champions League, but only thanks to late strikes from Julian Alvarez - his fourth in his last five games - and summer recruit Jeremy Doku.
What the managers say
Arteta: "I think that we have the best atmosphere ever at the Emirates and if we can create that then it’s going to be so helpful for the team. We have moments where we have managed it exceptionally well. Against PSV was a really good example and certain parts against Spurs, but that’s down to us. Hopefully the crowd can give us that and that will be a big plus for us.
"We aren’t looking back [at our previous record against City] because there were different players participating in those games, but we know one thing for certain, we’re going to have to be at our best. We have to be at our best in every department for 100 minutes. Then we have a chance." - read every word from Mikel's pre-match press conference
Guardiola: "Absolutely [Arsenal will be title rivals], along with Liverpool. To analyse contenders, the idea is the first 10 games. We haven't played 10; we have to wait but big clubs are always contenders.
“Arsenal is back. When I was a young boy and starting as a manager at Barcelona. I know they fought Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United team. Then for many years they were not there but now they're back. It's a contender yes and when you see in the calendar it says you go to the Emirates, it’s a tougher one.
“This [game] will not define a lot. It will be different when they come here at the Etihad - then it will depend on the situations we are in."
Adrian Clarke, writing in the official matchday programme: After enjoying success with an unusual 3-2-4-1 shape towards the end of last season, Guardiola has reverted to 4-2-3-1 in all seven league games. The absence of John Stones, who performed superbly in an engine room role, could be a factor behind that decision.
City have produced a division-high 164 sequences of 10 or more passes so far this season, a rise of three per game compared to 2022/23, and the champions are extremely patient before exploding into life around the box. Rapid switches of play occur regularly, and when defences are stretched, they slip passes into runners who burst into the area from deep.
Off the ball very little has changed. When possession is relinquished, the champions work aggressively in packs to regain it as quickly as they can. They have faced just 44 shots in the current campaign, which is 23 less than the next closest Premier League outfit - ourselves on 67.
However the absence of the suspended Rodri does significantly weaken City, who have looked more vulnerable to turnovers without the presence of their exceptional Spaniard. If we can break up play and turn over possession when the visitors have committed bodies forward, we can look to profit on the break.
Having scored in each of his last two home appearances against City, it remains to be seen if Bukayo Saka will be fit enough to feature on Sunday after limping off against Lens on Tuesday with a muscular injury.
Gabriel Martinelli has also missed the last four games after damaging a hamstring at Everton last month, while Jurrien Timber is our only long-term casualty following his torn ACL on the opening weekend.
Rodri will be missing after he was red-carded against Nottingham Forest, and the stats show that City are less effective without him, having lost just 13 per cent of the Premier League games he’s played in, which rises to 33 per cent in his absence.
Kevin de Bruyne is out with a torn hamstring, which could also prove vital as the Belgian has been involved in eight goals in his last six league games against us (6 goals, 2 assists), and John Stones will again be unavailable having aggravated up a hip problem in our Community Shield meeting. Bernardo Silva returned from injury against Leipzig though, having missed the previous three games.
Facts and stats
We have lost just two of our last 26 Premier League home games (W19 D5), although one of those defeats did come against Man City (1-3 in February).
We have lost our last 12 Premier League games against Manchester City, scoring just five times and conceding 33 against them in that time. It is our longest-ever losing run against an opponent in our league history.
We haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of our last 16 league games against City, since a 2-0 away win in January 2015. It's our longest run without a league shutout against an opponent since a run of 30 against Manchester United between 1953 and 1968.
We are unbeaten in our last eight Premier League games (W6 D2), with no side currently on a longer such run coming into this weekend's games (Spurs also 8). This is our longest unbeaten start to a league campaign since 2007/08, when they were unbeaten in their first 15.
Mikel Arteta has beaten 23 of the 24 teams he’s faced as a manager in the Premier League, failing only against Man City, losing all seven meetings. Indeed, the Spaniard averages a minimum of at least one point-per-game against all other 23 clubs he has faced in the division.
In his entire managerial career, Pep Guardiola has won more games against us (20) than he has against any other opponent.
Saka has been involved in seven goals in his last eight Premier League games (5 goals, 2 assists), either scoring (3) or assisting (2) in each of his last five. He has also scored in each of his last two home games against City.
Erling Haaland has scored in each of his last four league appearances in London. The only player to score in five in a row in the capital (for a team outside of London) is Ruud van Nistelrooy, who did so between September 2002 and September 2003.
Michael Oliver is once again selected for a meeting between the two teams, having overseen our last league encounter when we lost 4-1 in Manchester back in April. It is the second time he has taken charge of one of our games this season, having been appointed to our opening weekend win over Nottingham Forest.
The loss at the Etihad Stadium is the only time we have not claimed three points under Oliver’s eye in our last seven, stretching back to February 2022. However, City have won 15 of the past 16 matches he has refereed, with the last coming in a 5-1 demolition of Fulham in September.
- Referee: Michael Oliver
- Assistants: Stuart Burt, Lee Betts
- Fourth official: Tim Robinson
- VAR: John Brooks
- Assistant VAR: Darren Cann
Recent visits from City
Last season saw City leapfrog us at the top of the table courtesy of a 3-1 victory, with De Bruyne opening the scoring before Saka scored from the penalty spot. However second-half strikes from Grealish and Haaland won the game for the visitors.
Guardiola’s team had previously pitched up in N5 on New Year’s Day 2022, when a last-minute Rodri goal snatched victory for the visitors. Saka had given us the lead, but a Riyad 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. You have to go back to December 2014 for when we recorded our last home victory over City, with Theo Walcott on target and Olivier Giroud grabbing what proved to be the winner in a 2-1 success.
Watch some classic goals and home wins against City with these memorable matches
Nick Bright and Adrian Clarke will be live on Arsenal.com and the official app an hour before kick-off to bring you the best pre-match build-up and analysis ahead of the big match.
Gunners legend Liam Brady is dropping by the box to give his take on how he sees the game going, while TJ and Femi from Mercury Prize-winning Ezra Collective will also be on the show.
Ahead of their showdown at the O2 Arena, Dan Azeez and Joshua Buatsi will also chat to the boys, while Arsenal Lithuania will be pitchside.
Then from 4.30pm UK time, live commentary comes from Dan Roebuck and Jeremie Aliadiere, while if you want to watch the action wherever you may be in the world, you can find out which broadcaster is showing the game in your country.
Also on matchday
If you'r heading to the game, make sure you pop by The Armoury post-match between 6.30pm - 8pm to meet Brady and pick up a copy of his new autobiography Born to be a Footballer.