Manchester City vs Arsenal
Last season this Premier League fixture was due to be played on the first day of March.
It was initially delayed 10 days, rescheduled after Manchester City reached (and won) the League Cup Final.
Then, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was among those who contracted Covid-19 and the encounter was postponed again.
For three months, in fact, as the Premier League was quickly halted within 48 hours and the pandemic ‘lockdown’ began in earnest.
Now they face off again but this time without any need for rescheduling and with the Gunners – beaten by an aggregate score of 6-0 in their two league meetings – fast improving.
But can they really create Premier League 2020 highlights and win at the Etihad Stadium for the first time in more than five years?
The SBOTOP Premier League 2020 betting odds don’t think so, but to discount the Gunners is to discount a side which has won three of its opening four games of the season.
Furthermore, City have only tasted victory in one of their opening three matches and need to bounce back after a 5-2 embarrassment against Leicester in their last home outing.
In addition, this time it’s City who have had problems with both Covid and injury.
If Aymeric Laporte, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan had tested positive last March (as Arteta did), this game would have been postponed.
Now the congested schedule and the desire to get the Premier League played – as well as a better understanding of the virus – means fairness is out of the window.
Clubs still have to fulfil fixtures whether they have a full quota of players or not.
City’s depth means that is never in question, although manager Pep Guardiola has had more concerns this week with two of his star men withdrawing from international duty.
Kevin De Bruyne left the Belgium squad early after he was deemed not fit enough to face Iceland on Wednesday evening.
The Belgian Football Association had cited a fitness problem after the playmaker was substituted with 17 minutes remaining in the Nations League defeat to England on Sunday.
The 29-year-old will now be assessed ahead of the visit of Arsenal but there surely must be a doubt he can start the game, less than 72 hours after he was ruled out of another?
There seems to be better news for City when it comes to Raheem Sterling.He was forced to withdraw from the England squad due to a hamstring injury but is expected to be fit to lead the line this weekend.
Sterling’s progress will be a relief to Guardiola, who has fielded Sterling as centre-forward to deputise for the long-term injured Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus.
Arsenal have not been free of Covid-19 issues themselves. When Scottish international Stuart Armstrong tested positive last week, a number of team-mates were also forced into isolation including impressive young full-back Kieran Tierney.
Arsenal swiftly hit out at the process that means Tierney will miss their game at City unless the club, which insists its player was socially distant at all times, gets clarification and can play him.
Whether he makes it or not, Arsenal fans will be excited by the potential first glimpse of Ghanaian midfielder Thomas Partey who joined the club on deadline day from Atlético Madrid for £45 million.
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 twice in their last 11 meetings – although one was a Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang inspired FA Cup semi-final triumph in July.
City did the double over them last season: City won 3-0 at the Emirates last December 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.
In 2018/19, City beat Arsenal three times.
De Bruyne, Aguero and 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.
Despite City’s recent dominance, Arsenal still have the overall advantage with 97 wins to City’s 57.
The other 45 encounters have ended all square.
|Manchester City vs Arsenal||1X2 Arsenal @ 6.20|
|October 18, 00:30 (GMT+8)|
City are available to back 1X2 @ 1.42 and First Half 1X2 @ 1.88 which is no surprise, although this SBOTOP observer is surprised Arsenal are quite so adrift as they are at 1X2 @ 6.20 and First Half 1X2 @ 5.60. The draw is on offer @ 4.80.
With City’s concerning recent form coupled with doubts about De Bruyne’s fitness, there are enough question marks surrounding City to take a punt at an Arsenal win.
Arteta’s side continues to improve, and they have already proven they can beat City. And the odds are enticing enough that it’s certainly worth having a go at the Gunners.
|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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