Footy Extras

Match Preview: Man City vs Arsenal – Prediction & Team News

The race for the top four will take another pivotal turn on Sunday as Arsenal host Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium.

The hosts have slipped down to sixth place courtesy of a poor run of form before the international break, while Man City sit seven points better off in third.

Arsenal

When all is said and done with Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal career, there will be plenty of highlights to look back on.

The doubles of 1998 and 2002, the Invincibles of 2004 and even the Champions League final of 2006, albeit an unsuccessful one, provided a golden age for the Gunners that established them as one of the leading teams both in England and abroad.

Right now, though, those days will feel almost as far away as Herbert Chapman’s heyday in the mid-1930s, when he steered Arsenal to three consecutive league titles.

This is surely the lowest point yet of Wenger’s long reign. Pressure on him to stand down at the end of the season has reached unprecedented levels, and it seems for the first time as if the majority of the Arsenal fans are now in the ‘Wenger Out’ camp.

The Gunners have suffered four defeats in their last five Premier League games – their worst ever run of form under Wenger – and in the meantime they were also humiliated on the European stage by a 10-2 aggregate loss at the hands of Bayern Munich.

Such form has seen them slump to sixth in the table – only the second time in Premier League history that they have been outside the top five in April – and just as damagingly has created a civil war of sorts amongst supporters.

Events on the field during the 3-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion before the international break were bad enough without two banners being flown over The Hawthorns – one pleading with Wenger to leave and another demanding more respect for the Frenchman.

It is a club in disarray both on the pitch and in the stands, and as if that wasn’t enough there is the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the futures of some key figures.

Wenger, of course, heads that list, and the players can surely not be benefitting from the Frenchman’s vague and ambiguous updates on his position. There have been contrasting reports for some time, and even Wenger himself has been contradictory having now revealed that his future is not sorted after previously declaring that he had made a decision.

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil headline the bill of players approaching the final year of their contracts, but between now and the end of next season as many as 10 others – including the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Per Mertesacker – are also due to see their deals expire.

If Wenger stays this summer then many of those players may also stay, but the fans will not be happy. If he leaves then his successor will have a major rebuilding job on his hands. It is a catch-22 situation for the club.

It goes to show the scale of Arsenal’s problems that it has taken this long to even mention that they actually have a very difficult game this weekend too. Defeat on Sunday could leave them nine points adrift of the Champions League places or, in a best-case scenario, six points off the pace but down in seventh.

There are plenty who will be backing the Gunners to lose again too – they have only taken five points from a possible 24 in matches against teams currently in the top seven this season and are in danger of falling to three consecutive league defeats for the first time since January 2012.

Of course, victory over a direct rival would help to change the mood around the club significantly, and Arsenal do boast a formidable home record in recent weeks having lost just one of their last 12 league games in front of their own fans, including six wins from their last seven.

Defeat, though, would plunge the Gunners further into crisis and the demands for Wenger to step down – or at the very least to clarify his position – will only grow louder.

Recent form: WLLWLL
Recent form (all competitions): LWLLWL

Man City

It may not be to the same extent as Arsenal’s current troubles, but Pep Guardiola has also found himself under scrutiny like never before at times this season.

In many ways their story is similar to that of the Gunners – a disappointing early exit from the Champions League and underachievement on the domestic front leading to questions over whether the manager’s powers are waning.

City, however, come into this weekend’s match in much better shape than their hosts and, while Guardiola has said for some time that Chelsea are out of reach, second place is still very much in their sights with a two-point gap separating them from Tottenham Hotspur.

Back-to-back draws – the last of which was a breathless and frantic stalemate with Liverpool before the international break – have harmed their chances, though, and the fixture list does not make particularly good reading over the closing stages of the campaign.

After Sunday’s trip to the Emirates Stadium they will return to London on Wednesday to face the runaway league leaders Chelsea, while they must also take on Manchester United before the season is over – not forgetting their continued participation in the FA Cup.

City have only lost one of their last 13 matches across all competitions, though, while in the Premier League they are on a seven-match unbeaten streak – their longest run under Guardiola.

The Citizens are also in fine form on their travels having won each of their last three away league games without conceding a goal. Only once before have they ever gone on a four-match streak of that kind, and that was in Division Two way back in 1903.

Indeed, only Chelsea can boast a better away record in the Premier League this season, with City having won 10 of their 14 outings on the road, scoring a joint league-high 30 goals in the process.

Guardiola has warned that a wounded Arsenal will be an even tougher test than an in-form Arsenal, though, and City must be wary of a backlash if they are to complete their first league double over the Gunners since 1975-76.

Recent form: WWWWDD
Recent form (all competitions): WWDWLD

Team News

Arsenal could finally welcome Ozil back into the starting XI following a six-week spell on the sidelines.

However, the Gunners do have injury concerns elsewhere, with Petr Cech ruled out due to a calf injury and Lucas Perez unavailable because of a thigh problem.

Cazorla’s ongoing Achilles troubles will keep him out until next season, but Kieran Gibbs and Laurent Koscielny are expected to be available despite recent knocks.

The ankle injury sustained by Sanchez in the defeat to West Brom was not as serious as first feared, meaning that the Chilean will be fit to start once again.

City trio Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Pablo Zabaleta all suffered injury scares during the international break but have recovered in time for the weekend and should be available for selection.

Bacary Sagna has also overcome a groin strain, leaving long-term absentees Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus as Guardiola’s only injury concerns.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Ospina; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Elneny, Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud

Man City possible starting lineup:
Caballero; Fernandinho, Stones, Otamendi, Clichy; Sterling, De Bruyne, Toure, Silva, Sane; Aguero

Head To Head

Manchester City have won just one of their last seven meetings with Arsenal in all competitions (D3 L3), although that did come in the reverse fixture when goals from Leroy Sane and Sterling cancelled out Theo Walcott’s opener.

The corresponding match last term ended in a 2-1 win in Arsenal’s favour, with Walcott again on the scoresheet, and the Gunners have only lost one of their previous 19 Premier League home games against City, winning 12.

However, Wenger has only won two of his previous nine meetings with Guardiola and another victory for the Spaniard would see City do the double over Arsenal for the first time in more than 40 years.

We say: Arsenal 1-2 Man City

Arsenal seemed to lack fight and desire when they came up against West Brom before the international break, and a similar performance this weekend will only see Man City pour more misery on their hosts. Wenger’s situation does seem to be affecting his players and the visit of an in-form Man City side is not what they need right now.

 

Real Madrid moved in to splash the cash for 24-year-old Man City and Barcelona target

Real Madrid are prepared to break the bank to keep 24-year-old playmaker, Isco, a long-term target of Manchester City, by offering him a six-year contract extension.

According to Marca, Madrid are offering Isco a deal that would keep him at the club until he is 32. His new contract extension would start from the date his current deal expires (2018), keeping him at the Santiago Bernabéu until 2024.

If Isco agrees to this offer, he will practically triple his current salary by earning €6 million net per season. He is aware of this offer and has asked for time to consider it, with Premier League clubs including City, and Madrid’s fiercest rivals Barcelona all giving signals that they’d like to sign him.

Real Madrid have recently renewed the contracts of most ‘heavyweights’ in their squad, aware of the growing economic power of other leagues, especially the Premier League, and would like to add Isco to that list. The midfielder, though, has never been a guaranteed starter despite his enormous talent, and this is making him reluctant to commit his future to the Spanish giants.

A final decision from Isco is not expected until the end of the season, but the player will not settle for his current role in the team – he is fifteenth in the rankings of total minutes played at Madrid this season, and will need convincing that his role will be increased if he is to renew.

If Real Madrid do fail to persuade Isco, a controversial jump to Barcelona or a, some would say, overdue move to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are the two most likely destinations for the young playmaker.

Euro giants in stunning swoop for £230,000-a-week Man City star

Both Milan clubs are set for a summer transfer battle to sign Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure, according to  The Sun.

The 33-year-old is out of contract in the summer, and there remains doubt over whether City will offer him an extension to his current deal.

Toure has admitted that he is unsure over his future at the club, but has expressed his hope of staying at the Etihad after breaking into Pep Guardiola’s team in November.

The Ivorian midfielder has reportedly come close to joining Serie A side Inter on two occasions in recent years, only to change his mind at the last.
According to his agent, Dimitri Seluk, there are five clubs interested in Toure, one of which is believed to be his former club and Ligue 1 leaders Monaco.

AC Milan have now joined the list of clubs interested, backed by their new investors which would allow them to pay Toure’s wages.

The former Barcelona player is almost certain to take a pay cut from his £230k-a-week salary, although both AC and Inter Milan are believed to be willing to pay slightly less than that.

Toure has made 21 appearances in all competitions so far this season for City, his seventh full season with the club.

Man City dealt massive blow in the race for €170m rated top Man United target

AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi insists that young goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is ‘completely off the market’ despite interest from the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United.

The 18-year-old shot-stopper is one of the biggest prospects in Europe, becoming Milan’s first-choice goalkeeper ever since his debut 2015.
And although he has attracted interest from all over Europe, Berlusconi is adamant that he won’t be sold for any price.

“Gigio is one of Milan’s jewels.”  PianetMilan  quote Berlusconi as saying.

“He’s a gorgeous product of our youth system, he feels strong attachment in his heart to the jersey and the Rossoneri colours. For us he’s completely off the market.”

The sale of the club to Chinese investors would ease the financial strain in the club and in turn remove possibility of a sale, but Berlusconi insists he will keep hold of his man whether the sale goes through or not.

He added: “I’m committed, so is my family, we’ll proceed with the sale of the club only if there are all the guarantees both financial and for the relaunch of the club.

“The Chinese buyers have been impacted by some difficulties that couldn’t have been predicted, but they guaranteed significant down payments: we’re ready to continue to maintain our commitments and think the buyers will with theirs.

“Should the deal not go through we’ll continue to build a young and Italian team”

According to Donnaroumma’s agent Mino Raiola any possible suitors should splash break the bank in order to sign the Italian sensation.

“He’s worth €170million (£119m) and has a great future. He’s an extraordinary kid and everyone loves him. He’s already a little champion but he can become a great one.” – Raiola said.

The 29-year-old star confirms he has multiple options to leave Man City

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart has said that ‘something has got to give’ at the end of the season in light of his uncertain situation under City boss Pep Guardiola.

The 29-year-old, who will captain England for the first time against Lithuania on Sunday, has spent this season in Serie A having gone on loan to Torino.

And while he admits he is fully focused on the rest of the season for Torino, he can’t help but think about which club he will be playing for next season.

“I want to finish the season well, the best I can for Torino,” Hart told ESPN.

“I have really enjoyed being part of the club and I want to make the squads for the England internationals. Then after [the end of the season], something has got to give.

“I am not getting too wrapped up in that for the moment. I am lucky enough to have people working for me in terms of the business side of things.

“My job is solely to try to be the best I can and wherever I go for the start of next season I want to be at the peak and coming off the back of a good season.”

When asked about City’s struggles between the sticks this season, Hart replied: “You know I am never going to answer that question,

“I have got a lot of respect for Willy [Caballero]. I worked hard with Willy when he won us the League Cup.

“I don’t know the keeper they have bought — I have never worked with [Claudio Bravo]. I don’t know anything about him.

“It is about what I am doing at Torino, to be honest. I will obviously keep an eye on Manchester City — they are my parent club and one I have a lot of affection for.

“But my focus is England and Torino and whatever happens in the summer, whoever’s jersey I will be putting on next season, is where all my energy and all my passion will lie.”

Hart has been linked with potential summer moves to both Liverpool and West Ham this year, but he admits that he wouldn’t be against the idea of staying in Serie A for another season.

“I think I was always open to it,” Hart added

“I loved being part of Manchester City and I’ve said on record many, many times, it wasn’t down to a lack of curiosity of other leagues, it was a club I really enjoyed being part of.

“And while they wanted me, there was nowhere else to look.

“But things have changed a little bit. I’m open and I want to be part of the best team I can be part of, that wants me to be their keeper and I want to earn the right to be their keeper.”

Real Madrid set to make move for €55m Man City star to replace Portuguese ace

Manchester City’s Argentine defender Nicolas Otamendi is said to be open to a move to Real Madrid this summer, as Los Blancos look for a potential replacement for Real Madrid’s Pepe who may be departing the Spanish giants at the end of the season.

According to reports from Marca, Real’s Portuguese international has recently been offered to renew his contract for another year, however, it looks his future in playing football will be in the Chinese Super League.

Otamendi is also keen to make a move back to the La Liga, where he holds Spanish football experience having previously played for Valencia.

Before Los Blancos pursue this potential deal any further, the club may look at their first option in bringing Jesus Vallejo back from his current loan at Bundesliga team Eintracht Frankfurt – although the 20-year-old may yet be too raw to anchor a Champions League defence.

Last season’s Champions League winners believe that the young Spanish defender will benefit by only getting better in spending one more year at the in-form Bundesliga club. Frankfurt is also in the mix to gain a possible Europa League position for next season, experience could help the 20-year-old to become familiar playing on the European stage environment.

With the current La Liga leaders deciding on Vallejo’s future, Otamendi has emerged as the favourite to fill in the vacant defender position. The 29-year-old Argentine defender was not far from signing a contract at the Bernabeu before he signed with Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City in 2015.

According to Football Observatory Nicols Otamendi’s current market value is €55 million.

Man City installed as major favourites to sign £50m wing wizard

Manchester City are leading the chase for Bayern Munich winger, Kingsley Coman, after a serious deterioration in the relationship between the 20-year-old’s family and Bayern, according to the Matt Hughes Football Notebook in The Times.

This comes after a trio of French sources (Téléfoot‏, Le10sport and L’Equipe) reported City’s interest in the French international, who rose to prominence when Pep Guardiola was in charge at the Allianz Arena.

According to The Times, Coman’s father was knocked back when he requested a Champions League ticket for Bayern’s match away at Arsenal earlier this month, which he took as a bad sign regarding their faith in his son. Bayern insisted than the request came too late for a ticket to a game in which Coman didn’t feature.

It is also believed taht The Citizens launched £50m bid for the 20-year-old.

Bayern Munich are planning to take up their option to sign Coman for £20 million from Juventus, which expires next month, but will then try to cash in on him for a major profit, with The Times claiming that Manchester City are leading the race for him.

Coman has fallen out of favour under Carlo Ancelotti, managing just 5 Bundesliga starts (8 substitute appearances) and 0 Champions League starts (1 substitute appearances), with just the 2 goals in the league and no assists. Compare to last season under Pep, where Coman scored 6 goals and registered 11 assists across the two competitions, and it is clear which coach he is more suited to working with.

If City do land Coman, he would give Pep an extra option on the flanks with the talented pair of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané. Jesus Navas is set to leave the club when his contract expires in June, while Nolito has fallen massively out of favour, the 30-year-old featuring for just 135 minutes in the first three months of 2017.

Until the end of March, the City Store is marking down some iconic Retro Shirts to £20 (£18 for Cityzens).

Man City Boss Pep Guardiola Wins Another Amazing Award of His Career

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has named Premier League Manager of the Month for February, his first award since making the switch to England in July.

The Spaniard is the first City manager to receive the individual accolade since Manuel Pellegrini back at the very start of last season.

Guardiola’s City won all three of the Premier League games they played during the month of February, firmly establishing as a key contender to finish among the top four places after a difficult spell in January and December.

The month kicked off with a comfortable 4-0 win over West Ham. That was followed up by a tighter 2-1 victory over Swansea in which mid-season arrival Gabriel Jesus took the plaudits for his late winner, while Bournemouth also fell in a 2-0 City win.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach beat off strong competition from Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte and Tony Pulis to take the prize.

City continued their winning form into March with a 2-0 win over Sunderland, but were disappointingly held by Stoke in their last outing. An FA Cup quarter final against Middlesbrough this weekend is next on the schedule for the sky blues.

Guardiola Reveals Why £27m Signing’s Debut Delayed

Manchester City’s £27m January-signing Gabriel Jesus has not been cleared to make his debut against Everton this weekend due to pending paperwork.

The 19-year-old was hoping to impress at Goodison Park this Sunday, but City boss Pep Guardiola has put ice on his debut party by confirming that paperwork still needs to be ironed out between Palmeiras and the FA.

The talented forward joined up with City’s first team at the start of the year after helping Palmeiras to Brazilian championship glory in 2016.

Jesus has been hyped as ‘the next big thing’ to come out of Brazil, but City fans will have to wait until next weekend to finally see him in a sky blue jersey.

Guardiola did admit to having both Sergio Aguero and Kelechi Iheanacho at his disposal against Everton this weekend.

Aguero became City’s third highest goalscorer of all-time in the 5-0 demolition of West Ham in the FA Cup last Friday, and Guardiola could look to the Argentine again as he attempts to close the seven-point gap to league-leaders Chelsea.

Barcelona midfield maestro close to joining Manchester City

​According to Croatian source Jutarnji, Barcelona attacking midfielder Ivan Rakitic is on the cusp of joining Premier League side Manchester City.

The Croatia international was left out of Luis Enrique’s squad that traveled to Villarreal for the La Liga clash on Sunday, fueling rumours of a January exit.

Since joining the Spanish giants in 2014, Rakitic has been a staple in the side. Yet over the last month or so, his appearances have become sporadic. He was subbed off at halftime against Real Sociedad, then found himself withdrawn after an hour of the El Clasico match-up.

He went on to miss the side’s next three matches before returning in the Copa del Rey fixture just before Christmas.

Barcelona are six points behind rivals Real Madrid, and are desperate to pick up a win and keep their title hopes alive. Enrique was said to have left Rakitic out of his matchday squad for technical reasons.

Having excluded the player from a match of such importance, the manager has opened the door to much speculation.

Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, is keen to turn things around at City, having gone through a bit of a hellish time in the Premier League these last few months. Perhaps bringing in a player from his former team may help his cause.