Cast your mind back to this fixture last season. It was a bright new dawn, with optimism sweeping the stands of the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger had departed the previous May and a new man was in charge who would hopefully carry the Gunners back into the Champions League.
But then Manchester City won 2-0 without breaking sweat, and Unai Emery only hung around for 15 months. Fortunately for Arsenal, Freddie Ljungberg was on hand to pick up the pieces, and at a time when the Premier League is in love with former players parachuting in to give their old clubs a boost.
But Freddie’s impact hasn’t been as spectacular as Gooners would’ve hoped, with a win, a draw and a loss against teams from the bottom half of the table. He did turn it around at West Ham on Monday though, which seems to be more than Manuel Pellegrini is capable of doing.
As for City, they have now lost as many league games this season as Liverpool have since October 2017. Humbled by their Manchester cousins last time out, Pep Guardiola’s team might find themselves closer to the relegation zone than the league leaders when this match kicks off, depending on how Saturday’s matches go.
I think we can rule out Pep Guardiola from steering City into the Championship, but steering them to the league championship is starting to look just as unlikely this season.
Paddy is confident the Citizens will at least beat Arsenal this weekend if nothing else, and I’m inclined to agree. City have won the last four league meetings by an aggregate score line of 11-2, and swept the Gunners aside 3-0 in the 2018 League Cup final too.
Since Pep came to England the big six mini-league has seen 20 away wins in the 102 matches, and his City side account for eight of them. They should pick up their ninth big victory if Arsenal still count as big.
A big reason why City have the best record in the big games on the road is they often score first, then keep the ball and see the game out. They’ve scored first nine times when away from home against other top clubs under Pep, winning eight and drawing one. Where they lead the way on this, Arsenal have conceded first the most times in home clashes with big six sides, and they’ve won none of the eight matches where it has happened.
The Gunners have let in the opening goal in all three league matches under Ljungberg. You have to go back four years to find the last time Arsenal scored first against City at the Emirates, and you’ll be waiting at least another year for it to happen too.
When it comes to matches among the big boys, clashes between Arsenal and Liverpool have been the most entertaining. Well, unless you’re an Arsenal fan, but they’ve certainly featured the most goals.
And the next cab off the rank in the entertainment stakes is Arsenal vs. City, with an average of 3.3 goals per game since 2016/17. With the champions’ defence unusually porous this season and Arsenal being Arsenal, there’ll be goals galore here.
Since the start of last season, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette have both scored four league goals against other top clubs at the Emirates. The latter appears to be out of favour though, having been left on the bench at West Ham on Monday night. And at the time of writing there’s a Europa League game to navigate too, so it’s hard to know who will face City.
So depending on the team news, it might be worth considering Nicolas Pepe. He got his first goal in open play for the club on Monday and based on his underlying statistics the next one shouldn’t be far away.
Manchester City have scored a total of six league goals at the homes of other big six clubs since the start of 2018/19, and one man has bagged half of them.
No, not Sergio Aguero. Raheem Sterling? No chance. The man you’re looking for is Bernardo Silva. His tally in this period includes a goal in this fixture last season, and he also scored the opener at the Emirates in 2017/18. For a value bet, bear the Portuguese midfielder in mind.