The 2013-14 English Premier League season is underway! During the season Sports Unbiased will select our EPL Match of the Week, where we will preview, debate, and predict some of the biggest matches in the Premiership. Taking part in this series of predictions are Mike Santangelo and Kimani Gregoire.
WEEK 16: MANCHESTER CITY vs. ARSENAL
PREVIEW: Following a tough home draw against Everton, league leaders Arsenal head to Eithad Stadium to face fourth place Manchester City. This is a big match for both clubs. Arsenal missed out on moving seven points clear of second place Liverpool after Everton rallied late in the match to salvage a 1-1 draw at Emirates Stadium. A defeat on Saturday could see its lead in the Premier League dwindle to a mere two points. Meanwhile a defeat by Manchester City will see them fall nine points back of the Gunners as well as two spots in the standings, a deficit that might be too much to overcome as we approach the midway point of the season.
MANAGERS: Last week I gave Arsene Wenger a slight edge at the managerial position over Everton for the match of the week versus Everton based on his resume. I think the edge is even slighter when compared to City manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose philosophy of attacking football is one of the best in the game.
FORWARDS: Outside of Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney, is there a hotter forward on the planet than Sergio Aguero? The Argentine international has bagged twelve league goals for Manchester City (second only to Suarez). You combine his contribution with the other forwards such as Alvaro Negredo (six league goals) and Edin Dzeko (three league goals) and you can see why Manchester City is the most explosive club in the Premier League (their 41 goals lead the league). Arsenal is an explosive club as well, with 30 goals but other than Olivier Giroud (seven league goals) there has not been any consistency with the Arsenal forwards.
Advantage: Manchester City
MIDFIELDERS: There’s not much to say here. These are two of the best midfield in English football. You can’t go wrong with either one.
DEFENDERS: One of the things that may go unnoticed with Manchester City is that despite Pellegrini’s reputation is a great offensive mind, they have only conceded 15 goals. With captain Vincent Kompany back in the fold I expect the defense to be even better. Arsenal has conceded less goals than Arsenal, but like I said last week, that is partly due to Arsenal’s great possession game. City’s game is based more on getting shots on goal than holding on to ball, so the defenders can get exposed at times. But I feel like they have done a good job and because of that Pellegrini’s men can take more chances going forward.
Advantage: Manchester City
GOALKEEPERS: Before the start of the season I would have given City the edge with no hesitation. But what on earth has transpired with Joe Hart? How can someone go from being a top ten goalkeeper in the world (according to us at Sports Unbiased) to being benched as the number one keeper for his club? The word is that Pellegrini is considering reinstating him for this match, but one has to wonder about his confidence. No such issue exists with Arsenal and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny, therefore Arsenal gets the edge.
X-FACTORS: I’m going with Theo Walcott for Arsenal. Because of City’s attacking style of play, there will be opportunities for the Gunners to hit them on the counterattack. Walcott’s pace could come into play if that is the case. My X-factor for Manchester City is Joe Hart. England’s number one keeper was in such a funk that Pellegrini had to sit him down for six league matches. If he returns to net for this match I will be curious to see how he responds. He looked impressive against Bayern Munich in midweek, so perhaps it was a sign of good things to come. City fans can only hope!
PREDICTION: These are two quality, evenly-matched clubs. In most cases this would probably call for a draw. But here’s why I am going with Manchester City. A month ago, another Manchester club were in this exact situation. Yes folks, on November 10th Arsenal went to Old Trafford to face a United club that was eight points back of the Gunners. Back then, I predicted a Manchester United victory because of the fact that the match was at Old Trafford and because I believed that United would be the more desperate club. I am applying the same theory here and going with Manchester City for the victory.
Prediction: Manchester City 3 (Aguero x 2, Silva) – Arsenal 1 (Giroud)
Who Will Win Our EPL Match of The Week?
- Manchester City (100%, 1 Votes)
- Arsenal (0%, 0 Votes)
- Draw (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 1