Manchester City vs Arsenal – Preview
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says Sunday’s Barclays Premier League trip to Manchester City is vital in their pursuit of UEFA Champions League qualification.
The Gunners are third in the BPL, three points ahead of Man City while Manchester United and West Ham United can still catch Arsenal if they win all of their remaining matches and Wenger’s men lose theirs.
A top-three place will assure Arsenal of a spot in the Champions League group stage next season, while second-placed Tottenham Hotspur are only three points above their north London rivals.
“Sunday’s game is still important, even if Leicester City are champions today and we are second best,” Wenger said.
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“It is still a very important game because part of the responsibility of being professional is to prepare the future. The future of Arsenal Football Club depends on this game.
“Our target now is to secure a position in the Champions League next year. If possible, to get second place or at least secure third place. On Sunday we can achieve that. We still have two games, and if we win those two games we will be alright.”
Wenger will be without Per Mertesacker and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the rest of the season due to respective hamstring and knee injuries. England midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain will also miss UEFA Euro 2016.
Santi Cazorla, a star performer in Arsenal’s 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium last season, may return after his five-month knee injury lay-off, while fellow midfielder Jack Wilshere will hope for more action having been an unused substitute in the 1-0 win over Norwich City.
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Pellegrini’s decision to make eight changes in last Sunday’s 4-2 defeat at Southampton was not rewarded as Man City lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday.
Captain Vincent Kompany suffered the fifth setback of his injury-plagued campaign at the Santiago Bernabeu and he joins playmaker David Silva (hamstring) and full-backs Pablo Zabaleta (calf) and Aleksandar Kolarov (knock) on the sidelines.
“Maybe Arsene plays the way he played in the last two games against us,” said Pellegrini, whose side lost each of those encounters. “They let us have possession and they defended.
“I expect us to recover our attacking potential, which was our problem against Real Madrid. I hope that on Sunday we can continue being a scoring team.”
Manchester City (from): Caballero, Hart, Wright, Clichy, Demichelis, Mangala, Otamendi, Sagna, De Bruyne, Delph, Fernandinho, Fernando, Nasri, Navas, Toure, Celina, A Garcia, M Garcia, Aguero, Bony, Iheanacho, Sterling.
Arsenal (from): Cech, Ospina, Bellerin, Chambers, Gabriel, Gibbs, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta, Cazorla, Coquelin, Elneny, Flamini, Ozil, Ramsey, Rosicky, Wilshere, Campbell, Giroud, Sanchez, Walcott, Welbeck.
Referee: Anthony Taylor Assistants: L Betts, S Burt Fourth Official: M Jones
– Manchester City have lost 23 Barclays Premier League matches facing Arsenal, more than against any other side.
– The Gunners are unbeaten in their last four BPL meetings with City, winning the last two (W2 D2).
– Theo Walcott has scored three goals in his last two BPL appearances against Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
– Arsenal have kept three clean sheets in a row in the top-flight, last managing four successive BPL clean sheets in May 2014.