Men's Team

Gunners test, Fernandinho loss: 5 Talking Points

Gunners test, Fernandinho loss: 5 Talking Points
City face Arsenal again on Thursday evening - this time in the Premier League.

Here we take a look at the dangers of back-to-back clashes, our record away to the Gunners plus plenty more...

1 A case of déjà vu?

Playing a side back-to-back can have its disadvantages.

In 2016, City beat Liverpool in the League Cup final at Wembley and then travelled to Anfield where the Reds gained instant revenge with a 3-0 victory.

The Blues will need to guard against another backlash with same scenario against Arsenal who were comfortably dispatched at Wembley last Sunday.

 

 

The Gunners will want payback and, given the heavy criticism their players received in the press and from TV pundits, they will look to right one or two wrongs at the Emirates.

This could be a completely different game than last Sunday with Henrikh Mkhitaryan also available for the hosts after being cup-tied on Sunday.

2 Fernandinho blow

The loss of Fernandinho cannot be understated.

The Brazilian is pivotal to everything City do, but his expertise at receiving the ball from Ederson and distributing accordingly is unsurpassed.

When he’s fit, note how many times he is the defensive ‘out’ when teams press the Blues high – it is a role he undertakes with calmness and something close to perfection.

 

BLOW: Ferna loss huge
BLOW: Ferna loss huge

 

So, who fills his boots?

Ilkay Gundogan is more than capable, as is Kevin De Bruyne – and it could be the Belgian Pep Guardiola turns to on Thursday.

Yaya Toure’s lack of minutes means he is unlikely to be pitched in as the anchorman, though of course he is more than capabale of taking on the task.

We’ll have to wait and see who Pep selects while Ferna recovers, but with Chelsea, Basel and Stoke to come before a two-and-a-half week break, it could be a couple of players will be utilised.

3 Rotation likely?

With Chelsea on Sunday, Pep seems likely to make a number of changes at the Emirates.

Ederson is sure to return, and one or both of John Stones and Aymeric Laporte could return if the boss elects to save Vincent Kompany for the visit of the current Premier League champions.

 

LAP IT UP? Aymeric could return
LAP IT UP? Aymeric could return

 

Raheem Sterling faces a fitness test but Sergio Aguero, who has featured in City’s last 16 matches, will surely be rested if Gabriel Jesus is deemed ready to start.

Fabian Delph iemains suspended.

4 Gunner be tough

Arsenal’s home record this season is excellent with 10 wins, two draws and one loss in the Premier League to date.

That’s identical to City’s record on the road this campaign and evidence enough that Arsene Wenger’s men are a different proposition on their own turf.

But there is another stat to factor in – since 1975 the Blues have beaten Arsenal just twice on their own turf, losing 22 times and drawing another 10.

 

 

So, two wins in 43 years – it’s almost as bad as City’s dreadful record at another traditional graveyard of results, Anfield.

This visit be a great time to start improving that record…

5 Six steps to glory?

City need six more wins to guarantee the Premier League title.

The Blues currently sit 13 points clear of United with a game in hand.

The Reds can get a maximum of 89 points if they win their remaining 10 matches, while City currently have 72.

 

 

City could go into April’s Etihad derby knowing victory would all-but mathematically secure the title – United and Liverpool play against each other a week on Saturday so one or both rivals will drop points.

A lot of ifs and buts, but a possibility nonetheless, though there is a long way to go for that scenario to actually become a reality.

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