Arsenal vs Manchester City | Sunday 21st February 2021, 16:30 | Sky Sports
The Man City machine rumbles on relentlessly. They’re now 10 points clear at the summit of the Premier League table. And the scary thing is that Kevin de Bruyne, Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho are back fit, although only the Belgian got minutes under his belt on Wednesday.
That 3-1 win at Everton extended their unbeaten run to 24 games in all competitions, and that’s with 12 straight league wins.
It’s highly unlikely they’ll be caught, but Arsenal have the chance to slow their progress when they welcome the Citizens to the Emirates.
Mikel Arteta’s side earned a 1-1 draw in the Europa League on Thursday against Benfica, where Bukayo Saka scored a valuable away goal not long after Pizzi put the Portuguese side in front.
Kieran Tierney came off the bench for his comeback and should slot straight back in at left-back in place of Cedric.
With the focus returning to the league, they’ll look to build on their emphatic 4-2 win against Leeds, although it did end with a bit of a wobble. That made it six unbeaten at home in the league.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbed himself a hat-trick, taking him to five in his last two starts after bagging a double v Newcastle. But can he breach this strong City defence? Not many have done that of late.
The betting angles
You can’t ignore their recent run and their superiority is highlighted in some of the underlying data. They’re nearly 10 Expected Points better than Chelsea and 12 than Liverpool.
Their expected goals is also five better than any other side, so they’re performing as you’d imagine, netting 49 times with a 49.69xG. And no side can match their 17.14xGA either.
And with the fine form of talented attackers Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling combined with Ilkay Gundogan’s dazzling displays, then this Arsenal defence will have their mettle tested.
Of their 17 league wins, 12 have been by at least a two-goal margin. Break that down further to just away games, then it’s won six times in their eight victories with a couple of voids for wins by one goal.
The Sky Blues have been imperious against the Gunners in the league as well. Man City are unbeaten in their last 10 Premier League meetings with Arsenal, scoring at least twice in nine of those games.
If you look at their last five visits to the Emirates in league and cup, then they’ve won their last five, scoring 15 and conceding just once – that was Alexandre Lacazette’s goal in this season’s League Cup tie.
Those five games saw City win by two-plus goal margins, with three finishing 3-0. And given there’s no let-up expected from this Man City side, you have to expect more of the same from this ruthless outfit.
There’s usually one man I look at in this City team for a shot on target, and more often than not he’s priced up at odds-against – and he is once more.
Bernardo Silva has been magnificent in recent months in De Bruyne’s absence. The Portuguese flourishes playing centrally and that’s where he has more of his scoring opportunities.
It took about 10 minutes for a shot on target in midweek – his ninth of the season. Then came efforts on target 10 and 11, which saw him bag his second league goal of the campaign.
The fact he’s always odds-against catches my eye, but he’s one that I’m usually happy to back. He’s had seven shots on target in as many games, so he’s happy to pull the trigger.
He’s scored twice in his career against Arsenal and both those have come at the Emirates.
At 5/4 to test Bernd Leno, I’m happy to take that, while it’s worth noting that both of his league goals have come from outside the area. Sky Bet have him at 25/1 to score from outside the box – that’s tempting!
I can’t say I’m too enamoured by much else. Jon Moss has the whistle. He’s not being showing his cards as frequently since matches have been behind closed doors. He took charge of the FA Cup semi-final between these two with no cards shown.
It’ll be worth watching how this one shapes up tactically before getting drawn into the cards angles. A few players at the current prices are interesting. One is Saka – he might have to do quite a bit of tracking back. He’s 10/1 on Bet365, double the price he is elsewhere.
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