MANCHESTER CITY meet Arsenal in a mouthwatering Premier League match-up on Wednesday evening. Tom Love (@TomLove_18) shares his thoughts the Etihad encounter.
Manchester City vs Arsenal | Wednesday 17th June 2020, 20:15 | Sky Sports
Wednesday night sees the Premier League return and there’s an interesting narrative with it being master against apprentice in the dugout as Pep Guardiola faces off with his former assistant Mikel Arteta for the first time.
It will be intriguing to see if Arteta adopts an approach that will stifle City by sitting deep or whether they will try take the game to them. Whichever way they do play it promises to be a stern examination against the Blue Moon.
The break may well have benefitted City with Leroy Sane back but even bigger than that they have a fully fit Aymeric Laporte available. The latter has been a calming influence when he’s been available to play. In fact, the only game he played in where City failed to win was an extremely unlucky 2-2 draw at home to Spurs early on in the campaign where they won the Expected Goals (xG) battle 3.39-0.12.
Exclude that and City have won the other six he’s played, keeping a clean sheet in five of those fixtures too. What’s more, Sane is fit after an injury-ravaged campaign, and although he continues to be linked away from the club, he offers a dangerous alternative in wide forward areas.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have had a largely disappointing season. Unai Emery couldn’t get a tune out of his squad which still appears sorely devoid of solidarity, especially on the road. They’ve been swatted aside all too often against the leading lights, conceding at least twice has been a recurring theme.
Arteta has come in and gained a lot of plaudits that he wouldn’t have if he wasn’t a former player. Results have marginally improved but wins have still been scarce and their underlying performance data has been poor all season and has seen no upturn since his arrival. The Gunners are averaging 1.60 xG against which is terrible for a club with Champions League ambitions and only four sides concede more shots.
Man City, on the other hand, have consistently created a high volume of presentable opportunities in the final third, creating an average xG of 2.6 per-game, by far the most impressive in the league. At the back they have looked vulnerable at times but you can’t underestimate the importance of Laporte in this team, it also means Fernandinho can go back to his more comfortable defensive midfield role.
City can cover the spread
Pep has bemoaned the lack of preparation but that’s rubbish, all teams are in the same boat so I’m putting that down as some kind of feeble attempt at kidology. If the hosts bring their shooting boots I expect a rampant home win and I’m happy to take the slight odds-on quotes (13/14 BetVictor) on them to cover a -1.5 Asian Handicap – It’s effectively City to win by two or more goals.
I’ll also pop into the player props market as the 21/20 available with Coral on Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin to have two or more successful tackles looks a touch too big. Bellerin has missed large parts of this campaign but he’s likely to get the nod here although with so many unknowns it may be worth waiting for team news.
If he does play it’s likely to be against Raheem Sterling or Sane who are dribbling demons which means he will have plenty of chances to get his foot in. He’s managed to land this bet in over half his starts and will have a lot more defending to do on Wednesday night than he usually has to.