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Manchester City aims to get their second win of this Premier League season when they host Arsenal on Saturday.
In the early stages of this campaign, these teams have had very different starts.
Arsenal sits tied for second after four games played with nine points.
In three games Pep Guardiola’s side is 14th with four points.
City has not won a league game since a 3-1 win over Wolves in their opening match.
On the opposite side, Arsenal is riding high following a 2-1 win over Sheffield United and a shootout win over Champions Liverpool in the Carabao Cup.
The health and fitness of the City squad has been a huge concern since the season began.
The biggest concern has to be the health of Kevin De Bruyne.
He was sent home after being taken off in Belgium’s Nations League loss to England over the weekend.
Striker Raheem Sterling is nursing a hamstring injury but may be ready to go this weekend.
For Arsenal Scottish right-back Kieran Tierney is out due to unfortunate circumstances.
While on international duty his teammate Stuart Armstrong tested positive for COVID.
As a mandate by the Scottish government, he must self-isolate for two-weeks making him ineligible to play on Saturday.
Centre-back Pablo Mari is back training with the Gunners but not likely to be ready for this weekend.
Winger Gabriel Martinelli won’t be back until the New Year while still recovering from knee surgery.
Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took a knock in their win over Sheffield United but should be good to go.
These teams have been hard hit with injuries but they both have a lot of depth to make up for the losses.
While he’s not thought to be injured manager Mikel Arteta has not yet dressed Mesut Ozil, it’ll be interesting to see if he draws into this game.
Pep Guardiola says he’s confident in the current team right now.
“We don’t have Sergio, we don’t have Gabriel,” he said. We have Liam [Delap]. We have many options. Cole Palmer can play as a striker too. We will see.”
How they match up
The Gunners boast a strong midfield who are patient and like to pass the ball a lot in the middle of the park.
Daniel Ceballos and Mohamed Elneny form a strong solid presence as playmakers for the team.
They haven’t faced a midfield with the strength of Man City, however.
Led by De Bruyne City can transition quickly from midfield to attack.
Upfront Frenchman Alexandre Lacazette has started the season brightly for Arsenal with three goals in three league matches.
The Gunners’ top contributors so far this season have been from their back end.
Hector Bellerin leads the team with two assists on the season, while Willian has set up two goals as well in four matches.
Despite their ability to jump into the attack, the Gunners have conceded five times.
City’s defense has struggled as well conceding seven times so far.
Look for Arsenal to pressure Benjamin Mendy who’s had a rough start to the season along with Nathan Aké still looking to earn his place.
This could be an interesting chess match with both managers knowing each other so well.
Arteta was Guardiola’s assistant at Man City before moving on to Arsenal.
Arsenal’s Spanish manager seemed to read Guardiola’s mind in their FA Cup encounter this summer.
His five-man defense clearly threw Guardiola’s squad off while also limiting the space for the Blues in wide areas.
This helped Arsenal to exploit space left by Mendy who’s got a tendency to make forward runs.
In the rematch, we’ll see how Guardiola adjusts to his former pupil’s tactics.
Head to Head record
Over the past few years, the Blues have owned the Gunners in the EPL.
City has won the last six EPL meetings with Arsenal.
The last time they met however the Gunners knocked City out of the FA Cup with a 2-0 win back in July.
All-time City has won 57 encounters with Arsenal winning 98.
The Citizens can get their first home win this season on Saturday against Arsenal.
Kickoff is 5:30 pm. (JSL)