By Mark Phillips @betdetective
The Premier League returns from its early season hiatus for international matches to be played, with two of the favourites to lift the trophy facing each other at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday night at 9.45pm.
The last time these two teams met was in the Community Shield at Wembley in August when Arsenal ran out 3-0 winners.
In the league Arsenal have played Man City 173 times with the Gunners winning 85, City 46 and 42 ending up all square.
In the last 10 meetings in all competitions going back to 2010/11 Arsenal have won three, City have won four, with three draws.
At home Arsenal have won one of the past five, losing twice and drawing twice.
In the league Man City have won only once in their last 29 visits to Arsenal, at Highbury and then the Emirates.
It’s notoriously tricky to predict team line-ups after an international break with some players rested and others having picked up knocks playing for their country but Man City should line up in a 4-4-2 formation with Dzeko and Aguero the probable front two with Steven Jovetic having picked up another injury.
Arsenal could line up in a 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1 formation with Danny Welbeck the lone striker in each option. Aaron Ramsey is in doubt for Arsenal and if he does not line up he will be missed as the North London side have a better record when he is in the team.
WHO SHOULD ARSENAL PLAY IN MIDFIELD?
In the last 40 games Arsenal have won 71% and lost 10% of the 21 matches that Ramsey has started and lost 53% and won 21% of the 19 games he’s missed.
Arteta has played 28 of the last 40 winning 57% and losing 18%. When he is out Arsenal have won 75% and lost 8% of the 12 matches.
Flamini has been in the winning side in 50% of the 18 matches he’s started, losing 17% while when he’s out of the team Arsenal have won 71% and lost 14% of the 21 matches.
Rosicky has played in 16 of the last 40 games, winning 56 % and losing 19% of them while his team have won 67% of the 24 games they’ve played without him in the side.
Wilshire has played 18 of the 40 with Arsenal winning 28% of them and losing 44%. When he’s not been in the side Arsenal have won 45% and lost 32%.
Cazorla has been included in the first eleven on 31 occasion and his team have won 65% and lost 16% of those games. In the nine games he’s missed Arsenal have won 56% and lost 11%.
Ozil has been in the winning side in 63% of the 27 games he’s started and losing side in 11% while Arsenal have won 55% and lost 27% of the games he’s missed.
On those numbers, when Ramsey is fit he must play. No earth shattering news there. He should also be joined in the midfield by both or one of Cazorla and Ozil.
Somewhere in the middle room has to be made for at least one defensive midfielder and although I like Arteta as a player i’m not so sure that he can cope with all the defensive midfield duties alone. The same goes for Flamini.
Then there is the issue of record signing, Alexis Sanchez. I’d prefer to see him played as a striker but he’ll be in contention for one of the midfield spots this season for sure.
Against Man City tomorrow we’ll probably see Welbeck start up front after his two goal performance for England in the week, with Cazorla, Sanchez, Wilshire and Ozil in behind him with either Arteta or Flamini as the lone DM. It may lack a bit defensively unless Wilshire sits back a little but what it does have is awesome attacking potential, even without Aaron Ramsey. If Arsenal line up 4-1-4-1 with Arteta as DM and Ozil in for Ramsey and Welbeck in for Sanogo the shape of the team will be very similar to the one that beat City in the Community Shield.
RECORD AGAINST TOP 6 TEAMS
Man City have played 50 matches against other top 6 teams since 09/10 winning 25, drawing 9 and losing 16.
Arsenal have played 50, winning 13, drawing 15 and losing 22.
SO WHO WINS TOMORROW?
I haven’t got a clue. You tell me!