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Friendship, form and halting Haaland: Man City vs Arsenal talking points

Manchester City and Arsenal square off in a Premier League title showdown on Wednesday

Andy Hampson
Tuesday 25 April 2023 10:02 BST
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Arteta on Arsenal's "bottlers" tag

Title rivals Manchester City and Arsenal clash on Wednesday in a hugely-anticipated fixture that could determine the destiny of the Premier League crown.

The Gunners head to the Etihad Stadium with a five-point advantage at the top of the table but champions City, with two games in hand, are also in control of their own fate.

Here are five talking points ahead of the game.

Can Arsenal halt the City charge?

Arsenal have led the way for most of the season but it is City that now have the momentum. The Londoners’ advantage has been eroded after three successive draws while City have hit form. Pep Guardiola’s treble-chasing side have won 11 of their past 12 games, putting their inconsistency of earlier in the season firmly behind them.

Victory on Wednesday would undoubtedly give City the upper hand and, with all their experience of finishing seasons strongly, the signs could be ominous for Arsenal. It does seem that the London club will need to win to have any hope of realising their dream.

No sign of City fatigue

With City chasing glory in three competitions and the fixtures mounting up, Arsenal may have been hoping they would be feeling the strain. Unfortunately for the Gunners, there are few signs of it.

Guardiola did cite tiredness as he made six changes for Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Sheffield United, but such was the ease of their 3-0 victory with Riyad Mahrez coming into the side to score a hat-trick, it was clear there are no serious issues there. Nor does the pressure seem to be bothering them.

Arsenal, by contrast, are facing this situation for the first time and, even without the distraction of other competitions, it is they that seem to be in need of a lift.

Injuries

City have a doubt over the in-form Nathan Ake but, after Phil Foden’s return at the weekend, they otherwise have a clean bill of health. In fact, from what could have been a difficult season with more World Cup call-ups than any other side, City have come through this campaign relatively unscathed so far.

Arsenal have had to deal with some significant injuries to key players this season and the current absence of William Saliba has been felt acutely. The defence has not been as solid without him over the past few weeks and manager Mikel Arteta will be anxious for his return.

Potential headline-makers

There are a number of potentially interesting stories waiting to be written. Most of City’s headlines this season have been generated by the remarkable Erling Haaland and the prolific Norwegian stands on the brink of another couple of milestones.

Two more goals would not only see Haaland equal the Premier League record of 34 goals in a season, but also bring his overall tally for the campaign to 50.

In the Arsenal side, key players Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko, who were both let go by City last summer, will have the chance to upset their former team-mates.

Managers

Guardiola regularly heaps praise on his former assistant Arteta but the Gunners boss has struggled to get the better of his old boss. The pair have met eight times in management with Guardiola winning seven. Two of his successes have come this season with City beating Arsenal 1-0 in the FA Cup at the Etihad in January and following up with a 3-1 Premier League win at the Emirates Stadium a few weeks later. Arteta’s only victory came in an FA Cup semi-final three years ago.

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