Preview by Numbers: Manchester City v. Arsenal

Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Saturday, December 14
7:45 a.m. EST, 12:45 GMT
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Martin Atkinson
    • Assistants: Stuart Burt and Harry Lennard
    • 4th Official: Robert Madley
  • This Match, Last Year: Manchester City 1 - 1 Arsenal
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 93 Arsenal wins, 48 Manchester City wins, 41 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-L-W-W-W-D
  • Manchester City's League Form: W-L-W-W-W-D
  • Weather: Scattered Light Rain, 9 C / 48 F
Alright, getting sick of all the sad Arsenal photos again...
The Internet is a weird place.

If you try to find the current opinion of the average Arsenal supporter, you probably can't do it, because so many fans are all over the place. There are many who are excited for the challenges ahead, not just including this match but the Champions League draw that awaits on Monday. There are those that feel like the trap door is starting to open as well. So, there are many on both extremes of opinion, with a wide spectrum of options in between.

The spectrum of opinion will, of course, narrow after a match like this. It has to. This is the kind of match that can define your season, and it comes at a time when Arsenal are starting to wobble a little bit. In one respect, this is the perfect chance to right the ship. In another, it could create a tailspin.

The storylines will write themselves after this match. As for opinions now on what to expect, well, you could pretty much go with anything.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Sanogo (back,) Podolski (hamstring,) Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee,) Diaby (knee)
Doubts: Sagna (hamstring)

Carl Jenkinson might get a fourth straight start at right
back, if Sagna remains out.
The big question, of course, is Bacary Sagna: will he be fit or will he miss his fourth straight game? Because, I'm not going to lie, and I love Carl Jenkinson's desire and work ethic, but I would much rather have Sagna's presence and experience at right back in this match, and I don't think you'd disagree. suggests he'll be out, but they ran that entirely fabricated exclusive about a Mathieu Flamini injury last week, so you'll excuse me if I take them with more than a few grains of salt.

In the midfield, Arsene Wenger was able to rest a few weary legs on Saturday: Aaron Ramsey played only about 25 minutes, Mikel Arteta got an unintentional rest of a quarter of an hour, and Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott were not used at all. I would think that, especially with defense being so important against a team like City, Arteta and Flamini would continue in the holding roles, while Ramsey will come in for Tomas Rosicky. Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud will start because they have to. I'd consider resting Santi Cazorla for Wilshere, but that's just me. Santi's just looked a bit out of form lately.

Theoretically, I could probably be moving Lukas Podolski from "out" to "doubts" soon. I'm just not sure when yet, without hearing anything from Wenger.

Predicted XI: Szczesny, Jenkinson (I'm pessimistic,) Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Arteta, Flamini, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Giroud.

Manchester City Squad News

Out: Jovetic (calf,) Nastasic (leg)
Doubts: Richards (hamstring,) Clichy (foot)

I hate this guy.
City have two confirmed injuries, as Stevan Jovetic and Matija Nastasic are both out until at least next week. Micah Richards is a doubt with a hamstring injury (he left City's game midweek on 16 minutes,) as is Gael Clichy with a foot injury. Those last three means City's back four have been a bit shaken up, though they have lately been boosted by the return of Vincent Kompany at center back. With Nastasic out, Martin Dimichelis has been starting regularly since the end of October.

Speaking of those returning from injury, City were also boosted midweek by the return of David Silva to the line-up; he had missed six straight games with a calf injury. Silva returns to a club who are by no means bereft of attacking options. He started City's comeback with their first goal on Tuesday, but was subbed off in the 73rd minute.

Predicted XI: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Kompany, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Toure, Navas, Nasri, Aguero, Negredo.

Current Form

"I've forgotten how to score..."
For the first time this season, Arsenal have gone two straight matches without a victory, which means we're about one loss away from The Sun breaking their cracked cannon "club in crisis" logos out again, right? Losing to Napoli on Wednesday night has turned the conversation on the Internetosphere from cautious optimism to indescribable panic.

The reason is that Manchester City, on average, wins their home games by a scoreline of 100 billion to nil. Okay, so they're actually averaging 4.14 goals per league home game (29 over seven games) and have conceded just twice in the league at home this year. So, that's an average scoreline of 4.14 to 0.29. Astonishing, really. On the other hand, Arsenal rarely fail to score at all; Wednesday's 2-0 loss was only the third time this year the Gunners have been kept from scoring.

While City's home form is the best in the Premier League, Arsenal's away form is also the best in that category, but the Gunners have yet to play a road game against a team placed higher than 9th in the table, and they lost that 1-0.

Match Facts

Arsenal's last win away to Manchester City was aided by
the red card drawn here by Marouane Chamakh. That tells
you how long ago it was.
In 2007/08, Arsenal took all six points from a Manchester City side that finished 9th in the table. Since then, the two clubs have met 12 times across all competitions; City have won six of those meetings (four of those were league wins, the two others were in the League Cup,) Arsenal have won three, and three ended level.

Last season, in late September 2012, Arsenal came from behind to draw this fixture 1-1, a result that felt like one point earned instead of two points dropped. Arsenal had the better of play over 90 minutes, but conceded just before the stroke of halftime because zonal marking. Laurent Koscielny equalized in the 82nd minute after a half-cleared corner. Speaking of Koscielny, his 9th minute red card in the return fixture at the Emirates set the mood of the day, even if the resulting penalty was not converted. James Milner and Edin Dzeko scored in the 21st and 32nd minutes, respectively, and City walked away comfortable 2-0 winners.

Arsenal's last win at Eastlands came, like City's win at the Emirates last year, through an early red card. On October 24, 2010, Dedryck Boyata was sent off in the 5th minute, and Arsenal went on to win 3-0. Lukasz Fabianski and Bacary Sagna are the only two Arsenal players who remain with the squad from that starting XI (the other nine were Clichy, Squillaci, Djourou, Song, Denilson, Nasri, Fabregas, Arshavin, and Chamakh.)

The Referee

Martin Atkinson argues with Paolo di Canio, the latter of
whom invited the former to send him off in the process.
The referee is West Yorkshire-based Martin Atkinson. Arsenal have won both of their previous matches with Atkinson in the middle this season, 3-1 over Sunderland (in which he blew up play for a free kick instead of playing advantage on a potential Sunderland equalizer,) and 2-0 over Liverpool at the Emirates. Manchester City, on the other hand, have not seen Atkinson yet this year.

Last year with Atkinson, Arsenal had a record of one win (over Aston Villa) and two losses (both to Chelsea.) City had a record of two wins (over Swansea and Reading) and two losses (to Manchester United and Southampton.)

Atkinson was in the middle of this fixture at the Emirates in April of 2012, when Mikel Arteta scored a late winner to give Arsenal a 1-0 victory. Atkinson (finally) sent off Mario Balotelli in the 90th minute of that match. Since then, Atkinson has shown only one red card, to Cheick Tiote in a Tyne-Wear derby, over 56 matches across all competitions.

Around the League
  • Saturday: Cardiff City v. West Bromwich Albion; Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
  • Saturday: Chelsea v. Crystal Palace; Stamford Bridge, London
  • Saturday: Everton v. Fulham; Goodison Park, Liverpool
  • Saturday: Newcastle United v. Southampton; St. James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Saturday: West Ham United v. Sunderland; Boleyn Ground, London
  • Saturday (late): Hull City v. Stoke City; KC Stadium, Kingston upon Hull
  • Sunday (early): Aston Villa v. Manchester United; Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Sunday (early): Norwich City v. Swansea City; Carrow Road, Norwich
  • Sunday (late): Tottenham Hotspur v. Liverpool; White Hart Lane, London