Manchester City vs Arsenal
It was the shock news that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had tested positive for coronavirus in March that prompted the Premier League to hold an emergency meeting which led to the league being suspended.
Once it became public knowledge, the speed of the unravelling was extraordinary, the mounting anxiety suddenly prompting the inevitable. There would be no football for some time.
Since then, no-one has really known when and in what form it would resume – until recently that is.
Now here we are and the champions (albeit soon to be disposed champions) are back in action for a fixture which, when postponed in March, triggered the hiatus.
Make no mistake, money has driven the Premier League restart. The sums are stark. Complete the season and lose at least £330 million in rebates to broadcasters unhappy at the altered delivery of the product; do not complete it and lose £762 million to them.
But back we are and the prospect of Premier League highlights awaits.
To say the Premier League is coming back with a bang is an understatement. After the longest postponement of competition since World War Two, there will be matches virtually every day, at various time slots, until the end of next month.
Don’t expect too much too soon, of course.
Many believe the lack of match action and limited club training will mean some of the initial games are played at a pace more akin to a pre-season friendly.
Yet there will be nothing friendly about the glory on offer.
With 10 games left, Arsenal are as close to the relegation zone as they are to the third spot. Yet the Gunners have collected 17 points from Arteta’s first 10 league games in charge and the Spaniard is unbeaten in all seven of his away games in all competitions since his appointment.
While a Champions League spot could be asking too much for the north Londoners, a top-five finish is within reach. That, of course, could mean Champions League football next season if Manchester City’s European ban is upheld at appeal.
If they are to make it, they will rely greatly on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who, if he scores in this contest at the Etihad Stadium, will be the sixth fastest player to reach 50 in Premier League history.
The Gabon marksman has netted 49 goals in 75 Premier League appearances to date and wants to play at the top level both domestically and in Europe.
The 30 year-old, whose contract runs out in June 2021, has admitted this week the decision whether to sign a new deal with Arsenal is “possibly the most important” of his career.
With an array of suitors, he may not need Arsenal but Arsenal need him and he will surely be the biggest threat to a home defence which should welcome back Aymeric Laporte, whose serious August injury all but undermined City’s title defence before it started.
Their title hopes may have long since vanished but, having won the League Cup, City could still end the season with three trophies as they battle for the Champions League and FA Cup.
So it’s Pep Guardiola against his former number two.
Quality squads with depth will play a big part when the season restarts. Surely that is where City can come into their own?
Arsenal have not got a particularly good record at the Etihad Stadium.
Aside from a surprising 2-0 win there in January 2015, secured by goals from Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud, the Gunners have not triumphed since 2010 – and that was a match in which City played 85 minutes with 10 men.
Although Arsenal have enjoyed success over their opponents in the FA Cup and Community Shield in recent seasons, they have only tasted victory once in their last 10 meetings.
Last season City did the double over them; in 2018/19, City beat Arsenal three times.
Kevin de Bruyne, Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus were on target in a 3-1 home league win before Guardiola’s men triumphed 3-0 twice in five days.
They cruised to victory in the League Cup Final at Wembley before turning the tables on them again on their own turf by the same scoreline.
This season, in December, City won 3-0 at the Emirates with a dominant first half showing with De Bruyne (two) and Raheem Sterling on target. Shortly afterwards, Arteta left his position as City number two to take over as Arsenal boss.
Despite City’s recent dominance, Arsenal still have the overall advantage with 96 wins to City’s 56.
The other 45 encounters have ended all square.
|Manchester City vs Arsenal||Manchester City First Half Asian Handicap – 0.75 @ 2.21|
|June 18, 03:15 (GMT+8)|
Considering their recent record against City, perhaps it should not surprise too many SBOBET fans that Arsenal are real outsiders with 2019 Premier League betting odds.
I’m backing the hosts to win this one from the off.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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