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In the second of two highlight clashes this weekend, the Gunners travel north to Manchester to take on a City side that have a few questions to answer.
The beautiful subplot to this game is Mikel Arteta returning to the club where he plied his trade under Pep Guardiola for three and a half years, though now with a domestic trophy under his belt too, there’s a suggestion he can certainly give his former boss a challenge here.
On the surface it has been a great start to the campaign for Arsenal, with three wins from four seeing them sit in 4th with the only exception coming against reigning champions Liverpool.
However, since their opening day demolition of Fulham it’s not been as plain sailing. They were extremely fortunate to come away with all three points at home to West Ham in a game that they were dominated in for large parts, while they again only scraped past lowly Sheffield United at home, who hadn’t scored a goal until they arrived at the Emirates.
A boost for Arteta is the arrival of midfielder Thomas Partey who will add some stability in front of a traditionally shaky back four, and if Kevin de Bruyne were to miss this clash through injury that could be an area of the park for Arteta to focus on dominating.
That relies on Partey having an instant impact and the Belgian superstar to be missing for the hosts, and that’s certainly not enough for us to get behind the away win.
Indeed, Man City have won all four home meetings against Arsenal under Pep Guardiola by an aggregate score of 11-3 and winning the last six matches across both venues so it’s hard to see how Arsenal are going to turn the tables.
What might work in the visitors favour though is the absence of both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian was injured in City’s season opener against Wolves, while the Argentine has been pictured back in first team training, although this may come a touch early considering the length of his layoff.
Guardiola may want to reconsider that though, as in the four matches that neither Aguero or Jesus have started since the beginning of the 2018/19 season, his side have picked up just one point, losing to Chelsea (twice), Leicester and drawing to Leeds, and if neither start again here we’re not comfortable backing them to win at such a short price.
Under 2.5 Goals
While it’s been a bit of a goal fest so far this season, that’s not necessarily been the case with Arsenal as only Newcastle (6) have scored fewer in the top half of the table than the Gunners (8), though only Aston Villa (2) and West Ham (4) have conceded fewer (5) in the league.
With City’s injury problems combined with Arsenal’s lack of cutting edge so far this season, we could see two tactical side cancelling each other out, and ‘Unders’ holds a lot of value at a lengthy price.