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Preview: Man City v. Arsenal

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  • Man City have lost 7 Premier League games this season, one more than they had in their previous two campaigns combined.
  • Arsenal are unbeaten in their last seven away league games.
  • Man City have won their last six games in all competitions against Arsenal. 

Man City host Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday (Watch live, 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a rearranged game due to the League Cup final.

Pep Guardiola‘s Man City are now 25 points behind Liverpool and if they lose against Arsenal it will give Liverpool the chance to win their first-ever Premier League title by winning away at Everton on Monday.

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Mikel Arteta, who left Man City in December after three years as Guardiola’s assistant, has turned Arsenal into a tough team to beat and defensively they have made huge strides forward in recent months. They have won three-straight in the Premier League and have lost just one of Arteta’s first 10 PL games in charge.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The Gunners will move to just five points off the top four if they win this game in hand and with fifth-place potentially resulting in Champions League qualification this season, Arsenal would move just two points off of that with nine games to go.


Injuries/suspensions

Man City: QUESTIONABLE — Sergio Aguero, Aymeric Laporte, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane

Arsenal: OUT — Cedric, Shkodran Mustafi, Lucas Torreira, Calum Chambers, Sead Kolasinac. QUESTIONABLE — None.

Projected lineup

Man City: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Mendy; Gundogan, Rodri, Bernardo; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling

Arsenal: Leno; Sokratis, Mari, Luiz, Saka; Ceballos, Xhaka; Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang; Nketiah


What they’re saying

Pep Guardiola on his former assistant being in charge of Arsenal: “I was convinced he would be a manager when the opportunity comes and this was the opportunity for him. His ideas are already in the team, his positional play is getting better. I’m convinced Arsenal will get better.”

Mikel Arteta on returning to Man City and his ‘inside’ knowledge of Pep’s team: “It’s going to be a very special night, I am very excited to get back there. I have some fantastic memories, a lot of friends, a lot of people that I like. But obviously now I am in a different position, another bench and I will defend my club as well as I can. It gives me a very clear idea of what they are trying to do, what they will be looking to do, but it’s something different to be able to stop that and as well create the issues that I think we can create for them. That has to happen on the day, when they are at their best, we know what they are capable of doing, the variation they have. At the end of the day, it’s about the players on the pitch and their performance.”


Prediction

This will be a tight game between two teams who are trying to play the same way. City have pretty much washed their hands of the Premier League this season and will finish in second anyway but ahead of their Champions League round of 16 second leg they will be hoping to get back to form after a torrid showing in the Manchester Derby. Pep’s boys will get the job done against Arteta’s Arsenal but it it will be far from easy. 2-1 to Man City.

Guardiola on Man City’s derby defeat: ‘We played good’

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Pep Guardiola was not upset with Man City’s derby defeat at Man United.

Seriously.

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Speaking to our partners Sky Sports, Guardiola praised the performance of his team despite their defeat which now leaves Liverpool just six points away from winning their first league title in 30 years.

“We played good. We conceded a goal and should have avoided it, but in the second half we played good as well. So congratulations to Manchester United. The quality of the opponent always count. We played good. Yes, we could have played better if we win 5-0,” Pep Guardiola said.

Man City weren’t awful but they weren’t great so maybe ‘good’ is a good assessment of their display. Pep doesn’t usually criticize his team after a defeat and usually praises them, so this is pretty standard from him. That said, it now feels less reassuring given how they keep losing games in a similar way.

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Defensively they made some big mistakes and their entire starting back four would probably have been second-choice at the start of the season. Injuries and poor form have hit City hard at the back all season.

Ederson‘s uncharacteristic errors led to both Man United goals and why was Sergio Aguero marking Anthony Martial from a set piece on the first goal? Those kind of silly decisions are the reason why Man City are 25 points behind Liverpool, not to mention Otameni, Zinchenko and Fernandinho all looking well off the pace.

Guardiola didn’t want to hammer his players for their poor displays but it was clear Man City were second best throughout, even though they had plenty of the ball, as always.

City missed key playmaker Kevin De Bruyne who was out injured as they lost for a seventh time this season and if they lose at home against Arsenal on Wednesday then Liverpool can win the title if they win at Everton a week on Monday.

It appears that after winning the League Cup, reaching the FA Cup quarterfinals and beating Real Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 clash that Guardiola is going all in on the cup competitions this season.

Given their two-season European ban from UEFA, which they are appealing, this is the first time it has looked like City were not focused and didn’t bring their A game.

Player ratings: Man United v. Man City

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Manchester is definitely red as Man United beat Man City 2-0 in the Premier League on Sunday to do the double over their crosstown rivals for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

 [ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Anthony Martial‘s first half goal set United on their way in a tight, tense clash as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side defended superbly and kept their top four hopes alive with a gritty victory against Pep Guardiola‘s Man City. Scott McTominay sealed the win with a strike from distance amid the pouring rain in Manchester.

Here’s a look at the marks out of 10 for the players from both teams.


Man United

David De Gea: 6 – Didn’t really have much to do and what he did, he did it well. No errors this week.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 8 – A superb display from AWB who shut down Sterling and was a threat going forward.

Victor Lindelof: 6 – Solid enough and made several blocks when it mattered most.

Harry Maguire: 7 – Came back early from injury and his positioning was spot on. Marshalled the United defense expertly.

Luke Shaw: 7 – Put his body on the line at left center back and left back and will have impressed watching England boss Gareth Southgate. His resurgence continues.

Brandon Williams: 7 – Energetic display from the local lad as Williams got forward a lot more than usual.

Nemanja Matic: 7 – Typically combative display as his sat in front of the back five with Fred. This was his type of game.

Fred: 7 – See above, but with more energy as his consistency in the second half of the season has been sublime.

Bruno Fernandes: 8 – His moment of magic set up Martial for the opener and he was so calm on the ball and made some great runs that his United teammates didn’t see.

Daniel James: 7 – Worked his socks off out wide and had a few good looks on goal but his drought continues. Has to get his head up more in the final third.

Anthony Martial: 8 – A proper No.9’s display as he held the ball up, volleyed home the opener and did his best to be an outlet. He’s really matured this season.

Subs
Scott McTominay: 6 – Scored a lovely goal from distance to seal the win.
Eric Bailly: 6 – A few good clearances and tackles late on.
Odion Ighalo: 6 – Was only on the pitch for a few minutes but got involved.


Man City

Ederson: 4 – At fault for both goals and almost caught in possession. One of his worst displays in a Man City shirt.

Joao Cancelo: 6 – Had quality from right back but chose the wrong option when he got forward.

Fernandinho: 5 – An unusually poor display as Martial turned him inside out on several occasions.

Nicolas Otamendi: 5 – Could have given away a penalty kick and lunged in time and time again.

Oleksandr Zinchenko: 4 – A horrid display at left back. James and AWB ran rings around him. Subbed off.

Rodri: 7 – Did his best to keep City ticking over and, as always, tidy in possession.

Ilkay Gundogan: 5 – The game passed him by in midfield. Not his type of game at all.

Phil Foden: 7 – Kept trying to make things happen but maybe this underlined how much City rely on Kevin De Bruyne.

Bernardo Silva: 6 – Quiet game by his standards but some quality deliveries as per usual.

Sergio Aguero: 5 – Scored a goal which was disallowed via VAR and he looked totally off the pace of the game.

Raheem Sterling: 4 – See above. Missed a great chance in the second half and was just off, as he has been a lot recently.

Subs
Riyad Mahrez: 7 – Made a big difference off the bench down the right hand side. So much creativity.
Gabriel Jesus: 6 – Came close to scoring and so dangerous. Should have started.
Benjamin Mendy: 5 – A slight upgrade on Zinchenko at left back, but that’s not saying much.

3 things learned: Man United v. Man City

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Manchester is definitely red as Man United beat Man City 2-0 in the Premier League on Sunday to do the double over their crosstown rivals.

 [ MORE: Premier League schedule

Anthony Martial‘s first half goal set United on their way in a tight, tense clash as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side defended superbly and kept their top four hopes alive with a gritty victory against Pep Guardiola‘s Man City. Scott McTominay sealed the win with a strike from distance amid the pouring rain in Manchester.

[ MORE: Player ratings ]

With the win United are in fifth, three points behind fourth-place Chelsea. Man City remain in second but this defeat means Liverpool now need just six more points to secure their first league title in 30 years.


3 things we learned

1. United’s success against ‘big six’ continues: They’ve now beaten Man City home and away, Chelsea home and away and Leicester at home, beat Tottenham at home and drew at home against Liverpool. This United side are set up to frustrate and punish the other ‘big six’ clubs and those clubs do not change their philosophy when playing against United. Solskjaer’s side have their counter-attacking plan down to a tee and it worked a treat once again as they soaked up pressure and hit City on the break time and time again.

2. City’s sluggish defending sums up their season: Ederson‘s uncharacteristic error led to Martial’s goal and why was Aguero marking Martial from a set piece? Those kind of silly decisions are the reason why Man City are 25 points behind Liverpool, not to mention Otameni, Zinchenko and Fernandinho all looking well off the pace. The back four which started would have all been second-choice at the start of the season and injuries and a lack of form have hit them hard defensively. City missed key playmaker Kevin De Bruyne who was out injured as they lost for a seventh time this season.

3. Martial carrying United’s top four hopes: Yes, he scored the goal which won this game but Martial’s performance was about so much more than this. He’s now scored four goals in his last six games for United but his hold up play has improved, he is an outlet up top and he and Bruno Fernandes have struck up a real partnership in attack. With Marcus Rashford out he’s become a reluctant No.9 but he’s digging deep and doing his best.

Man of the Match: Anthony Martial – See above. Martial stood tall and delivered once again when his team needed him. He is maturing each and every week. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was also superb at right back.


Raheem Sterling‘s curling shot was pushed away by David De Gea early on and Matic made a great last-ditch tackle on Aguero as City started well.

United were a threat on the break as Daniel James was played in by Bruno Fernandes but shot straight at Ederson.

Martial then got the better of Fernandinho but hit his shot straight at Ederson as Man United continued to have their moments despite Man City dominating possession.

United took the lead after a moment of magic from Fernandes as his clever chipped free kick found Martial who volleyed home at the near post as Ederson should have saved his effort. Moments later Fernandes sent a header wide as United were rampant after their early goal.

Before half time Fred was booked for simulation when he went down in the box but replays showed he was clearly caught by Otamendi but VAR wasn’t used and Man United were not awarded a penalty kick.

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At the start of the second half City clicked through the gears as Aguero had a goal disallowed for being offside, then Foden and Otamendi both went close.

As Man City threw caution to the wind late on, Man United launched several counter attacks as James surged forward but failed to see Fernandes wide open and instead Ederson saved his effort at the near post.

Substitute Riyad Mahrez found Sterling with a splendid cross but the English winger somehow missed from close range and then another sub, Gabriel Jesus, was denied by De Gea as Man United dropped deeper and deeper late on.

The Red Devils held on with relative ease as Man City lacked any cutting edge and the hosts took all three points and bragging rights in style as substitute McTominay curled home from distance with the final attack of the game.

Watch Live: Man United v. Man City

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Man United host Man City in the Manchester derby on Sunday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) with both teams in good form in recent weeks.

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The away side have won six of the last seven Manchester derbies. Remember that.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side have dealt with key injuries well as they remain in the race for Champions League qualification and are in the last 16 of the Europa League and quarterfinals of the FA Cup. With Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba still out injured, United are hanging in there and their defensive improvement has been the key reason for their improved results.

As for Man City, they are clear in second place in the Premier League table but Pep Guardiola‘s side already have the League Cup trophy in the bag and are well-placed to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals after winning away at Real Madrid. Despite their two-season European ban imposed on them by UEFA, which they are appealing, City’s players and coaching staff are keeping their focus.

In team news Man United have captain Harry Maguire fit and ready to play after he missed the midweek FA Cup win, as Solskjaer goes with a 3-4-3 formation which has worked well in recent games against top six teams.

Man City shuffle their lineup and the most notable lineup news is no Kevin De Bruyne, while Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero start in attack. Cancelo starts at right back and Otamendi and Fernandinho start at center back with local lad Phil Foden playing in midfield.


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