The pressure is on this Sunday evening, with Manchester City and Arsenal both needing to close the gap on title favourites Chelsea as the hit-and-miss pair face off at the Etihad.
Arsenal’s good run came to a grinding halt on Tuesday night as the Gunners blew a lead to lose 2-1 at Goodison Park, while the Citizens’ midweek victory over Watford was their first win in four games in all competitions.
So, how will this finely poised clash go? Here’s what the Ladbrokes News team are expecting to see…
Gunners can exploit Bravo’s weaknesses
Plenty has been said about Pep Guardiola’s decision to freeze out club legend Joe Hart in favour of summer signing Claudio Bravo. Alan Shearer claimed that “saving shots doesn’t seem to be part of his skill set”, while Roy Keane said “his decision-making [is] all wrong”.
But the most damning thing about the Manchester City stopper is his stats. Despite his rumoured fine footwork, his pass accuracy has been poor, and the Chilean’s shot stopping record – 1.53 saves for every goal conceded – makes bad reading for fans of the North-West giants.
With the aerial strength of players like Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny and the smart finishing of Alexis Sanchez (among others), Bravo could be in for a torrid time of it. If struggling Leicester City can put four goals past him, just think what the Gunners’ frontline can do.
And once they get going, Arsene Wenger’s side are really a sight to behold. Each of their last six wins have seen the Gunners score three or more goals, though they have conceded on each occasion – meaning Arsenal to win 3-1 is worth a flutter at 22/1.
City striker can make the most of Aguero absence
Despite a run of impressive displays last season, things haven’t quite clicked for 20-year-old striker Kelechi Iheanacho so far this season, with one goal in his last 11 games.
However, with the pacy forward up against an Arsenal side who haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last 11, he could well run riot – especially with Shkodran Mustafi currently injured, and the sloppy Gunners giving away five penalties already this season.
Having shown his instinctive finishing numerous times last season – against the likes of Tottenham and Crystal Palace, he’s also proved himself an able match winner more recently, scoring the crucial second goal in September’s 2-1 win at Old Trafford.
Having endured a lull, he now needs to show his value to Pep Guardiola again. What better way to do that than by scoring anytime at 6/5 to keep City’s title aim alive. Meanwhile, there’s a tempting 11/2 on offer for both the in-form Nolito and Iheanacho to score.
History suggests we’ll see goals, goals, goals
While the Premier League’s leading lights have thrown up the odd damp squib this season (Liverpool 0-0 Man United, anyone?), this fixture is almost guaranteed to deliver goals – meaning there’s safety in backing excitement.
Seven of the last nine meetings between the Sky Blues and Arsenal have produced three or more goals, including a nine-goal thriller back in 2013 – meaning the 8/13 for over 2.5 goals on Sunday looks a safe bet.
In fact, every one of the last dozen clashes between this pair have seen the net bulge at least twice, so we recommend lumping on the over 1.5 goals market at 1/5.
Check out all our great Manchester City v Arsenal specials here.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing