Manchester City will play Arsenal at home on Wednesday, 11th March. The match will kick off at 7.30 pm local time.
Match Preview Insights
- The original match between these two sides was postponed until later in the season because of City’s involvement in the Carabao Cup final. However, the decision to reschedule it for this evening has proved unpopular with the travelling Arsenal fans because it was done at short notice, and many could not arrange to get time off work for the fixture in time.
- This is the reunion between Master and Apprentice, as Mikel Arteta returns to the club where he was assistant manager under Pep Guardiola for three successful years before leaving to take the Emirates job just before Christmas.
- Arsenal have a terrible away record against top six sides away from home – the last time they beat one of their main rivals away from the Emirates was at the Etihad in January 2015.
- In the reverse fixture between these two sides in December, City humiliated the Gunners 3 – 0 at the Emirates. It proved to be caretaker manager Freddie Ljundberg’s last game in charge before Arteta was appointed.
City will be licking their wounds after the Manchester derby on Sunday where, despite dominating possession for much of the match, they were beaten by bitter local rivals, although an uncharacteristically erratic performance from goalkeeper Ederson did not help – he was culpable for both of United’s goals.
However, there is the sense that the team is misfiring this season, perhaps because the pace of Liverpool ahead of them has been so relentless, but also too many players seem to be In a trough right now. With Kevin de Bruyne absent from their starting line-up on Sunday, they lacked creativity and drive, and Raheem Sterling looks off the pace right now.
The team still has a lot to play for though. They have already defended their Carabao Cup, are still in the FA Cup, and, next week, will host Real Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League, holding a lead from the first leg in the Bernabeu.
With question marks over whether they will even be playing European football next season, that competition will start to assume ever greater importance for them.
Arsenal are very much a work in progress, and, as Arteta has acknowledged, there is a lot of work to be done before they are playing in the way and the style that he wants. The Spaniard inherited the mess that Unai Emery left, and, joining in mid-season in the middle of the festive period, has had to work with players that are not his own, and with limited transfer funds available.
There has been some promising signs, not least because he has managed to heal the rift with the divided fan base, and also because of the club’s crop of young players, like Bukayo Sako, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah and Reece Nelson, but their defence continues to be a cause for concern, as was shown in the recent loss in the Europa league to Greek side Olympiakos.
And the team still lacks creativity, as was shown on Saturday against relegation threatened West Ham. The Hammers were the better team for much of the match and, but for a fine save by keeper Bernd Leno, and the intervention of VAR which ruled that Alexander Lacazette’s goal should stand, they would not have taken three points.
City will start as heavy favourites to win this match against an Arsenal team that have struggled in these types of fixtures in recent years. Mikel Arteta has made the side more compact and difficult to beat, and they definitely play with more team spirit than under Unai Emery. However, their defence is still a problem, and against a City side that will be keen to put their Old Trafford nightmare behind them, this could be another difficult evening.
Arsenal fans know that the big challenge that Arteta faces is to build a side capable of going to places like the Etihad and which can not only compete, but have a realistic chance of winnng.