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Manchester City vs Arsenal preview, team news, tickets & prediction

We have a huge top-of-the-table clash in store as Manchester City entertain Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night. Here is a match preview

Mikel Arteta

We have a huge top-of-the-table clash in store as Manchester City entertain Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night. This highly anticipated match will go a long way in deciding who ends up winning the Premier League title this season, so it’s all to play for in Manchester this evening.

Arsenal have been one of the surprise packages of the campaign. Not many pundits expected Mikel Arteta’s side to be challenging for the title with the vast majority believing fourth place was the best they could realistically achieve. However, the Gunners have stunned the football world as they’ve led the way at the top of the table for the entire season. At one stage, Arsenal held an eight point advantage over Manchester City and they were well on course to winning their first title since 2004.

However, the North Londoners have lost form at the wrong time of the season. They blew two-goal leads to draw 2-2 away to Liverpool and West Ham before slipping up at home to Southampton last time out. Everybody expected Arsenal to blow bottom-club Southampton away at the Emirates but they found themselves 3-1 down with just minutes remaining after some individual errors gifted the Saints some vital goals. Arsenal managed to score twice late on to salvage a 3-3 draw they couldn’t find a dramatic winner meaning they’ve drawn their last three matches.

Their lead at the top is now just five points with City holding two games in hand so Arsenal cannot afford to lose tonight. If they do, the title will be out of their hands and they’ll be playing catch-up if City win their extra games. However, if Arsenal could somehow come away victorious from the Etihad, they would make a huge statement in the title race as they’d extend their lead to eight points. Even if City won their two games in hand, they’d still be two points behind the Gunners with just five games left to play.

The problem for Arsenal is they are facing a formidable City side who have hit their best form at the right time. The Citizens booked their place in the FA Cup final with a routine 3-0 win over Sheffield United last weekend while they are also in the semi-finals of the Champions League after easing past Bayern Munich. They have also won their last seven Premier League games on the bounce, so Pep Guardiola’s team are in fantastic form and will be confident of beating Arsenal at home to put themselves firmly in control of the title race.

Match details and tickets

The game will be played at the Etihad Stadium – home of Manchester City – on Wednesday 26th April, kicking off at 8pm. The match is being broadcast live on BT Sport, and subscribers can watch the action as it happens on their TV or via the BT Sport app.

Tickets for the match can be purchased via each club’s official website. However, given the magnitude of this game and what’s at stake, the match is a sell out. Supporters can also get hold of Manchester City tickets via reputable reselling sites but demand is going to be high so prices will be reflective of that. Arsenal will have around 3,000 travelling fans attending the game and getting hold of an away ticket will be extremely difficult.

Team news

Arsenal have been dealt a major injury blow ahead of the game after Arteta confirmed that William Saliba remains on the treatment table and will miss the trip to Manchester. The French international has struggled to overcome a back injury that he picked up during the Europa League last-16 tie with Sporting Lisbon last month and has been forced to sit out the last five games. Arsenal had hoped he would be fit to return against City but the injury hasn’t healed sufficiently and Saliba is yet to return to training, meaning he’ll sit this one out.

Rob Holding was given a tough time up against Erling Haaland when the two clubs met in the FA Cup earlier in the season, but he’ll have a chance to put things right tonight as he’s expected to keep his place alongside Gabriel in the middle of Arsenal’s defence.

Granit Xhaka missed the draw with Southampton due to illness and he’ll need a late fitness test to see if he’s ready to return to the starting eleven tonight. Takehiro Tomiyasu is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury while Mohamed Elneny also won’t play again this season due to his own knee issue.

As for Manchester City, they will be without Nathan Ake after he picked up a thigh injury during the FA Cup win over Sheffield United. Aymeric Laporte could start in defence in Ake’s absence. Otherwise, Guardiola has a fully fit squad to choose from.

Line-ups

Guardiola is expected to make some changes to his starting eleven with several key players recalled after being rested last weekend. Ederson, Ruben Dias, John Stones, Rodri and Kevin de Bruyne will all return with the likes of Stefan Ortega, Kyle Walker, Rico Lewis and Sergio Gomez dropping out.

City line-up: Ederson; Akanji, Dias, Laporte; Stones, Rodri; Mahrez, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Grealish; Haaland

Arsenal will hope Xhaka is passed fit to return. If so, Fabio Vieira will make way after a disappointing outing against Southampton. If Xhaka is deemed unfit to start, then Jorginho could be recalled in midfield. Otherwise, Arteta will stick with his usual line-up meaning Aaron Ramsdale keeps his place in goal despite being at fault for Southampton’s opening goal last week.

Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus will face-off against their former side while Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli will be major threats for Arsenal in attack.

Arsenal line-up: Ramsdale; White, Holding, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard; Saka, Jesus, Martinelli

Prediction

City have suffered just one defeat in their last 20 games in all competitions and are in stunning form right now. They have beaten Arsenal in the last 11 meetings between the two sides and are the red-hot favourites to claim all three points at the Etihad tonight. Haaland is arguably the most potent striker in the world right now and it’s difficult to see Arsenal stopping him without Saliba marshalling the backline. Holding is just nowhere near the same level as the Frenchman.

Arsenal have a hugely dangerous attack themselves, and showed in the reverse fixture at the Emirates that they can cause City problems and go toe-to-toe with the defending champions. However, the Gunners have been vulnerable in defence as the last team you want to be playing is City when you’re not keeping clean sheets.

This should be a fascinating game but City should prove too strong on home soil. Man City 3-1 Arsenal 

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