Following a lengthy three-month hiatus, the Premier League returns Wednesday, and the final match of the day brings football fans quite the showdown, as Arsenal and Manchester City square off at the Etihad Stadium.
It’s been a tough season thus far for Manchester City, and though they sit firmly in second position in the table – the fact that they’re so far behind Liverpool has been pretty shocking. Add in the fact that they’re currently in the middle of an ongoing scandal about future UEFA competitions, and there’s a lot of drama within the side. Manager Pep Guardiola came out this week and admitted that the energy level within the group isn’t all that high at the moment, and with virtually nothing to play for in the Premier League – you have to wonder about City’s lineups and team motivation down the stretch.
That is quite the different scenario for Mikael Arteta’s Arsenal group. After a tough start to their campaign, Arteta had his Gunners group undefeated in the new year. Though they currently sit 9th in the Premier League table, they’ll definitely be pushing hard for European football next season. It will take a string of good results, but the Gunners are definitely one side that have yet to play to their full potential, and are capable of more. Will we see that materialize on Wednesday evening? Keep reading beneath the posted odds to find out, along with some team news, a tactical preview, and an official betting prediction. Enjoy the match!
Manchester City vs. Arsenal Betting Odds:
Manchester City (-294)
Over 3.5 (+101)
Under 3.5 (-121)
Manchester City -1.5 (-110)
Arsenal +1.5 (-110)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Manchester City vs. Arsenal Pick:
While one definitive benefit of the pandemic has been the return to full fitness for many sides, it remains to be seen how Pep Guardiola will manage his Man City lineup down the stretch. It is believed that Leroy Sane, Aymeric Laporte, and Kevin de Bruyne have all shaken off their knocks and are ready for game action. That trio are huge boosts for Man City, as they’ll line-up in their familiar 4-3-3 formation, one that puts an intense amount of pressure on opposing defenses, specifically from the pace out wide.
But again, what Man City will we see in the final few games? I’m expecting a relatively explorative group, one that won’t really focus on where they finish within the EPL table. Instead, expect Guardiola and his team to focus on potentially hoisting both the FA Cup and Champions League trophies. Premier League matches will be valuable for fitness, though with such a lofty gap between them and Liverpool at the top – Man City may just have their eyes elsewhere.
For Arsenal, they’re also still in contention for the FA Cup, but undoubtedly their biggest focus over the final months will be on their standing within the Premier League table. This is a proud club, with high wage bills, and extra European football is a must for the squad. Expect them to return to full health, and make a real push for points down the stretch.
For the Gunners, Arteta’s group will return to their familiar 4-2-3-1 formation, allowing for some good flexibility against the Man City onslaught. They’ll maintain an elite front trio with Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front – a threesome that should be able to inflict damage on any back-line. Where Arsenal has run into issues in the past has been their defense, but expect the inclusions of midfielder Joe Willock and summer signing, Kieran Tierney to really help their play without the ball.
Don’t expect to see the same Arsenal return to the pitch on Wednesday. There seems to be a real change in atmosphere with the squad returning to full fitness. Their attack remains absolutely elite, loaded with scorers and finishers, while their defense will be boosted by the return of key full-back Kieran TIerney. While a strong Man City squad will likely put them away, Arsenal continue to be priced like a lower-tier side in the EPL. They have more to offer, and on the handicap market represent some good value at the Etihad Wednesday night. Expect the Gunners to battle and keep things tight against a demotivated Man City squad.
Pick: Manchester City 2-1