Preview: Arsenal vs Manchester City

Arsene Wenger says Arsenal must “play with more freedom” against Manchester City in the Premier League on Thursday following Sunday’s League Cup defeat to Pep Guardiola’s Citizens.

Premier League
1 March 2018
Game week 28
Kickoff: 21:45 (local time)
Venue: Emirates Stadium

Referee: A. Marriner
Assistants: S. Ledger, I. Hussin
Fourth officials: M. Dean

Head-to-head summary:

TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS

Arsenal 174 88 42 44
Manchester City 174 44 42 88

Previous encounter:

Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City (25/02/2018) League Cup

Manchester City: S. Aguero (18′), V. Kompany (58′), D. Silva (65′)

Players to watch:

Sergio Aguero scored his 30th goal in all competitions in just 35 games this season with City’s first at Wembley in the 3-0 Carabao Cup win over Arsenal.

Vincent Kompany and David Silva followed suit for a comprehensive victory, to remind the Gunners that City are a threat from all areas of the pitch.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be back for Wenger having been cup tied for the final which will surely give the Gunners more attacking impetus as the Armenian’s partnership with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hopefully begins to flourish.

Team form and manager quotes:

Manchester City are storming towards the Premier League title, with 72 points from 27 games, and will move 15 points clear of second-placed Manchester United with victory against an Arsenal side in sixth, on 45 points.

City responded to drawing 1-1 with Burnley in the league with big wins over Leicester and Basel, but were eliminated from the FA Cup by Wigan Athletic – ahead of their League Cup final win.

The Gunners, who are five points adrift of Chelsea in fifth, have lost four of their last six games, losing to rivals Tottenham, and Ostersunds in the Europa League, although they progressed on aggregate, ahead of their defeat at Wembley.

Leading up to this game, Wenger said it was vital for Arsenal to get back to winning ways to keep alive their hopes of making the top four.

He said: “I felt it was a very tight game until the 2-0 [on Sunday]. When you look at the end of the game, Man City had three shots on target and we had two. So overall, I believe that we have to turn the decisive moments in our favour [this time] and play with more freedom than we did. I think we played a bit apprehensively and that is important that we go into the game with that force that is part of our game and our philosophy.

“Part of our job is to respond and to focus on the next game. You want only to win games, it’s not always possible, so it’s the way you respond. I believe that [we need to] analyse well, focus on the next one and respond together in a united way, which his part of our philosophy at the club.”

Guardiola, meanwhile, whose team only need six more wins to be crowned Premier League champions, has warned against complacency.

He said: “We are fighting for the most important title of the season, the Premier League,” he said. “More than the Champions League, FA Cup or Carabao Cup. We must be focused. The next six fixtures are terrible in terms of quality of opposition. Four are away.

“We think about Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United and away games at Stoke who are playing to avoid relegation. We are going to Goodison Park, where it is always tough game. We have tough games to play and we must be focused.”

Team news:

Fernandinho (hamstring), Raheem Sterling (hamstring) and Benjamin Mendy (knee) are out for City. For Arsenal, Nacho Monreal (back) is sidelined.

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