Where will the game be won and lost? Here are five things to look out for in City’s final game before Christmas…
Eight days without a game and no international football in sight… what fresh magic is this?
City defined “leggy” against Swansea last Saturday and were fortunate to win but Manuel Pellegrini had a rare opportunity to give his players a couple of days off earlier in the week, allowing batteries to be recharged and breaths to be taken ahead of a run of eight games in four weeks.
As much as the games take a physical toll on the players, it’s also a mental strain to maintain concentration levels and move on from one game to another in the space of a few days.
We haven’t seen the Blues at their brilliant best for a whole match since Sevilla away in November, so here’s hoping that they will take out recent frustrations on the Gunners at the Emirates.
Ozil versus Silva…
Olivier Giroud has been picked out by many as the man in form for Arsenal ahead of this game but stopping Mesut Ozil and cutting off the supply line could be key to our chances of victory.
The German has been at his dazzling, creative best so far this season, assisting an incredible 13 goals this season.
His assist-per-minute stats are only bettered by David Silva this season, so it promises to be an intriguing head-to-head between the league’s leading architects.
Away day blues…
City have the best home form in the league with seven wins from nine games but results away from the Etihad have been poor for nearly three months now.
Pellegrini’s side haven’t won away from home in the Premier League since September 12's win over Crystal Palace and they have lost at White Hart Lane and the Britannia Stadium since.
Incredibly, we haven’t scored a single league goal away from the Etihad since Kevin De Bruyne’s opener against Spurs on 26 September.
It’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds as we’ve only played three away games since then but it’s still a barren run of 335 minutes which surely needs to end if we’re to pick up a third title in five years.
Five of City's next six games are away from the Etihad...
A miserable run…
Sorry, this isn’t very festive, is it? More reasons to be pessimistic coming up…
Arsenal have lost just one of 18 Barclays Premier League home games against City (W11 D6 L1) and we’ve lost 22 times to them since 1992, our joint-most defeats to any opponent (along with Chelsea).
However, on the positive side, Arsenal have only beaten us at the Emirates once in the last six meetings.
A similar story…
Leicester’s remarkable run, Chelsea’s title defence, Klopp’s arrival – these have been the main storylines of the 2015/16 season so far but from a City and Arsenal point of view, it’s been a campaign characterised by injuries to key players.
On paper, these are the two standout squads in the division and many pundits have expressed surprise that neither side has managed to pull clear at the table summit.
Consistency is hard to find when enforced changes are required each week but there could be fitness boosts for both sides with their main men returning to training in the days leading up to the game.
Both Alexis Sanchez and Sergio Aguero are in contention to start and will be hoping to fire their respective sides to the win which would send out a statement to the rest of the league going into the busy festive period.