- One point separates the sides
- Sanchez return still questionable
- Aguero expected to play for City
The final Premier League match before Christmas is a big one, as title contenders Arsenal and Manchester City square off at the Emirates (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).
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Arsenal currently sit second place on the table, just one point ahead of Manchester City. The Gunners are unbeaten in their last five matches in all competitions, despite the fact that Arsene Wenger‘s side has been riddled with injuries. Alexis Sanchez returned to training this week after missing some time with a hamstring problem, but it is still unclear whether he is fit to play against City. If Sanchez was to get back in the lineup he would take some of the pressure off Olivier Giroud, who has scored six goals in the past six matches for the Gunners.
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For Manchester City, Manuel Pellegrini expects to see leading scorer Sergio Aguero back on the pitch today after missing four matches with a heel injury. Aguero is a game-changing talent, and his side needs him back in top form as City hasn’t won a league match away from home since September. The Citizens will still be without captain and center-back Vincent Kompany, who hasn’t played in more than six weeks. Kompany’s absence in the back-line has been clearly visible, and City will have their hands full marking the likes of Giroud and Mesut Ozil.
What they’re saying
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “It will be a very tight game because if you look at the numbers since the start of the season, offensively and defensively the numbers are very close. Manchester City has huge individual potential with David Silva and Sergio Aguero coming back and so we will need a top, top-level team performance.”
Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini: “It’s not a decisive game as after this we have to play 21 games more. It’s important to try to be the best team from the first round, to play against a team with one point more. It’s a game of six points, to win three and to take three off a rival.”
This match has loads of offensive talent, but I think it may be played a bit cautiously. The managers know how much a loss could hurt their title hopes in May, and with both sides battling injuries, a draw would be seen as as a good result. Arsenal 1-1 Manchester City.