Mikel Arteta will go head-to-head with former boss Pep Guardiola for the first time as the 2019-20 Premier League season restarts on Wednesday.
Arsenal are one of four teams in action on the opening night, with Aston Villa versus Sheffield United officially getting England’s top flight back underway.
This fixture had originally been scheduled for mid-March following our 1-0 win over West Ham United prior to football’s three-month suspension. We had been on a three-game winning streak in the Premier League and unbeaten in 2020 since our 2-1 loss at home to Chelsea just after Christmas.
Arteta’s tactics were starting to come to fruition but now the Spanish boss has to start all over again with the lengthy lay-off. And it restarts against defending champions Manchester City. The odds suggest a home win with Guardiola’s side currently as short as 1.36 whilst we’re nearly 9/1 to win at the Etihad Stadium.
The Citizens hammered us 3-0 at the Emirates back in December when we were under interim manager Freddie Ljungberg, and five days before we announced Arteta as Unai Emery’s long-term successor.
Kevin De Bruyne scored a brace either side of Raheem Sterling’s strike that gave Manchester City the 3-0 half-time lead that they would also finish the game with.
Who knows where both sides are at now, though we were beaten by Brentford in our warm-up match last week if that’s anything to go by.
Manchester City versus Arsenal is on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom, with all 92 remaining fixtures set to be televised as no fans can attend the games in person. As a result, Premier League live streaming sites are going to be very popular over the next few weeks.
Kickoff is at 20:15 GMT following the conclusion of the game at Villa Park. All four teams have a game in hand due to the EFL Cup final back on 1 March postponing both of these games. After this, all 20 teams will have nine games remaining, starting from Friday. We are next in action away to Brighton & Hove Albion in what will be the first-ever Saturday 3pm televised Premier League game.
Defenders Kieran Tierney, Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding are all fit and available to the boss for the restart having all struggled to be fit during much of the first part of the season. Lucas Torreira is also back in full training having originally been set to miss the rest of the campaign. This gives Mikel Arteta a full squad to work with.
Manchester City could have Leroy Sane available for the first time this season. The German tore his ACL in the opening 10 minutes of the FA Community Shield back in August and had subsequently missed the majority of the Premier League campaign.
However, Pep Guardiola will be without John Stones, Ilkay Gundogan, Joao Cancelo and Claudio Bravo as they are yet to return to team training, although it’s not been made clear why.
It would be fair to say that this game comes too early in Mikel Arteta’s project at Arsenal to expect to get a result against Guardiola, and as a result, City are the bookmakers’ overwhelming favourites with good reason.
Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how the student faces up to his mentor, albeit under the unique circumstances. Our boss should have a good knowledge of City’s tactical setup as well as anyone, so this should allow him to create a game plan to exploit any weaknesses.
If we cannot get a result this game will hopefully benefit us from getting a competitive game under our belt before the rest of our rivals. Heading into the restart we are down in ninth, three points behind Sheffield United in seventh and eight points outside of the top four.
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