Arsenal to crank up the pressure on Pep Guardiola
The return of domestic football in England sees Arsenal travel to the Etihad for the early Saturday evening kick-off in the Premier League. The Gunners have had a more than steady start in 2020/2021, and sit in fourth place, five points ahead of their opponents. Having played a game fewer, Manchester City need to shake off a distinctly indifferent beginning, already well off the pacesetters and defensive issues aplenty to contend with. Pep Guardiola has rarely in his managerial career feared for his job, but another defeat would start tongues wagging. Read our preview here:
Possession must pay
As most pundits would expect, the blue half of Manchester lead the way in retaining the ball. As of yet, that hasn't translated into assured performances or even maximum points. The shellacking by Leicester City has proven that there is a soft centre in the heart of the defence, despite all of the investment sunk into remodelling the squad. Additionally, the packed schedule has made key men Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling significant doubts for the big weekend clash, so both a rotation of personnel and a rethink of the shape employed could well be on the cards. A balance must be struck between helping the new-look defence settle in and cutting off passing lanes on the occasions when the ball is surrendered or lost. There is now a perception that only being one down against the giants is not insurmountable, and Arsenal will offer stiff resistance in preventing that eventuality, and will retain hopes of getting something from the game if it does transpire.
It's Partey time
Versatile new acquisition Thomas Partey is almost certain to be handed his debut by manager Mikel Arteta, and his qualities could be just what his side needs, both at the weekend and looking further ahead. Adept at breaking up play and making driving runs from the centre of midfield, the skilful Ghanian also has a tendency to shoot from range, and that could spell danger for the hosts. The north London outfit are not without their own selection concerns; left-back Kieran Tierney has become a focal point for them, and it will be a close run thing whether his enforced self-isolation after testing positive for COVID expires in time for his inclusion. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang didn't feature for Gabon because of his own injury concerns, but could well return to the forward line, whose collective pace and guile are sure to ask an awful lot of questions of City's rearguard.
Arteta to get one over Pep
Much will be made of the 'master versus apprentice' narrative, but Arteta has proven in his time thus far in charge of Arsenal that he's unlikely to be lumbered with that tag for long. Whilst any pretensions of a title tilt might remain fanciful, he will nevertheless be confident of leading them back into true Champions League contention. A win on Saturday would go some way to strengthening those could credentials, and at the time of writing, betway are offering generous odds of 6.50 for his charges to head south with a victory.