Both sides took to the Champions League stage away from home in midweek, as the Gunners were bested 2-1 by Lens, while the Citizens left it late to overcome RB Leipzig 3-1.
From setting a new club clean sheet record away from home in the Premier League to suffering an agonising first defeat of the season in northern France, Arsenal’s unbeaten sequence deservedly came to an end against Ligue 1 runners-up Lens on Tuesday, where ex-Man City striker Gabriel Jesus put the Gunners ahead thanks to a defensive gaffe.
However, David Raya’s poor clearance then led to Adrien Thomasson curling home a sumptuous leveller – a penny for Aaron Ramsdale’s thoughts as the Spaniard’s pass was cut out – before Elye Wahi found the far corner with aplomb to send Arsenal back to the English capital empty-handed.
Torrid weather conditions in North London – leading to the delay of their flight across the channel – slightly derailed Arsenal’s pre-match preparations, but Arteta refused to make excuses for his side’s tepid display on an evening where Bukayo Saka was also withdrawn with a first-half injury, capping off a nightmarish evening for the Gunners.
Nevertheless, Arteta’s third-placed charges are one of only two teams in the Premier League yet to lose a top-flight game this term – the other being their arch-nemesis Tottenham Hotspur – and last weekend’s 4-0 dismantling of Bournemouth has the Gunners sitting pretty in third place in the fledgling rankings.
Since the start of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal have only been put to the sword twice in Premier League home matches and have scored at least twice in all of their Emirates affairs so far this season, but for all of their steadfast defending on enemy territory, Arteta’s men are still waiting for their first Premier League home clean sheet of the new term.
Similarly to their North London counterparts, Man City were also pegged back after taking the lead away from home in the Champions League this week, as Leipzig hotshot Lois Openda found the back of the net via the post to cancel out Phil Foden’s slick opener.
The champions’ efforts to wear down the Roten Bullen rearguard were met with stiff resistance from Marco Rose’s side, but the effervescent Julian Alvarez conjured up a moment of magic to restore City’s one-goal lead in the 84th minute, before the Argentine set Jeremy Doku away to finish the job in injury time.
Third time was the charm for Man City on Wednesday, as Pep Guardiola’s side travelled to Germany at risk of suffering three successive away defeats after falling short against Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the EFL Cup and Premier League respectively, with the latter defeat cutting their lead at the summit to just the one point.
By the time Sunday rolls around, City may have been knocked off their perch by Tottenham Hotspur – who need only win at Luton Town to usurp the treble winners – and while Arsenal’s defensive frailties at home are well-documented, Guardiola’s men have kept just four Premier League clean sheets on the road in 2023.
Receiving a golden ticket into the Community Shield thanks to Man City’s FA Cup and Premier League triumphs, Arsenal ended their hoodoo against Guardiola’s team by prevailing on penalties at Wembley two months ago, but the Gunners have been defeated in each of their last 12 top-flight games against Man City – their longest-ever losing streak against a single opponent in league history.
Arsenal Premier League form:
Arsenal form (all competitions):
Manchester City Premier League form:
Manchester City form (all competitions):
We say: Arsenal 1-2 Manchester City
Coming up against a City side without their two midfield maestros in Rodri and De Bruyne would ostensibly give Arsenal a wonderful opportunity to break their Premier League curse against the champions, but Saka’s likely absence may now see the home crowd travel to the Emirates in hope rather than expectation.
Without the Englishman on the field against Lens, Arteta’s men looked bereft of ideas in the final third, and repeated failures to keep the back door closed at home should see Guardiola avenge August’s Community Shield beating and get one over his former protege once again.