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Tactical Preview: How Arsenal Can Win at Manchester City For The First Time in 9 Years

Mikel Arteta watches on from the touch line

Arsenal travel to the Etihad to face Manchester City for what many have dubbed a ‘title decider’. There will still be nine games left in the run-in, but this heavyweight matchup will go some way to deciding where the Premier League trophy will be heading in May.

The Gunners have not won at the Etihad Stadium since 2015, losing their last seven from eight, and they also faced Pep Guardiola’s side in an almost identical fixture around this time last year when both were fighting it out for the title. Arsenal came into that one heavily wounded, and the Citizens swatted Mikel Arteta’s men aside as if they had the power to choose when they wanted to waltz away towards a third straight Premier League title.

However, this Arsenal side is on an outstanding run of form with an unmatched eight-game-winning run and are responsible for both the league’s best defence and attack.

So how can this side finally manage to come of age and take a much-needed three points that would not only push themselves towards the title but halt City’s charge towards a never-done-before four league titles in a row?

Keys for Arsenal to Beat Manchester City

Stay in The Game And Build Control

In this awful run of form in matches at the Etihad, there are some stats which outline the gulf in class between both sides in recent years. In their last five matches at the Etihad Stadium in the league – the Gunners have found themselves behind at halftime.

This leaves them with too much to do, and usually, City are capable of taking any sting out of the game and suppressing Arsenal until they are incapable of creating any chances of note.

Read More: Arsenal Must Remain Consistent To Avoid Repeat Of Run-In Failure

But if Arteta’s side stays in the game, they can hurt their opponents. In the first half of games against the top five this season, City have averaged 1xG against compared to a massive six xG conceded in the second half of these matchups, with their attacking prowess also dipping in the second half with four goals in the first half compared to just one of their goals against the top five teams coming in the second period. If the side from north London manages to stick in the game after 45 minutes, they will have chances to get at City.

Arsenal vs. Manchester City: Midfield Battle Will Be Key

The expected midfield of Arsenal will be the Jorginho, Martin Odegaard and Declan Rice trio. Pep Guardiola spoke highly of the latter in his pre-match press conference. The Spanish manager spoke after missing out on the England international to Arsenal last summer and said: “All the teams in the Premier League would have signed Declan Rice.” It will be the Englishman alongside Jorginho who will be tasked, with halting Man City’s progression through central areas, with Arteta instructing his players to disrupt Rodri’s rhythm as much as possible.

If the Spanish midfielder is given license to dictate the tempo, he will be able to pick off the Gunners’ mid-block structure out of possession and hand the keys to the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden to unlock the rigid Arsenal defence.

In the game at the Emirates in October, Arsenal managed to work their way into it during the second half and initiated 40 defensive duels compared to just 19 in the first half. This led to Arteta’s side gaining more control in midfield, leading to a 1-0 victory.

Read More: Arsenal And Manchester United Among Premier League Clubs Interested In Real Madrid Star

If Arsenal are to take all three points away from Manchester for the first time in 9 years, they will need to be robust and stick to the game plan. If they are level going deep into the second period, then there will be chances to win the game through the likes of Saka and Martinelli, who City will be praying won’t be passed fit for this one. A win would see the Gunners lay down a significant marker to the rest of the footballing world, showing that they mean business and are ready to lift their first Premier League title since the Invincibles 20 years ago.

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