Why Arsenal Can Prove Against Man City That This Season is Different

Arsenal have a poor record against Manchester City, especially at the Etihad Stadium. But, ahead of Sunday’s potentially season-defining trip, they have reasons for hope

There may still be a month and a half left of the 2023-24 Premier League season, but it’s difficult to escape the feeling that everything revolves around this weekend for Arsenal and their aspirations of ending a title drought that is ticking towards 20 years.

Sunday’s trip to Manchester City would always be a big occasion, one with the potential to be a non-stop thrill ride as two of the world’s best teams tussle. But the narrative of the Premier League title race looms over this ominously, especially for Arsenal, who have everything to prove.

After all, to many they’re still the same team on the surface that “bottled” the title race last season, having found themselves eight points clear before collapsing in the final weeks of the campaign. They spent 248 days of the 2022-23 season top of the table, which is the most of any team in English top-flight history who didn’t go on to win the title.

A heavy 4-1 defeat in this very fixture on 26 April 2023 essentially completed an Arsenal downfall that started with William Saliba getting injured during a UEFA Europa League game in March 2023.

That loss wasn’t exactly surprising; Arsenal have a terrible record at the Etihad Stadium, failing to record a single win there in any competition since January 2015. In fact, they’ve only won away to City twice since Sheikh Mansour’s 2008 takeover of the club.

That will go along way to explaining why Arsenal’s title chances according to the Opta supercomputer are significantly lower than those of City and Liverpool despite going into the weekend top of the table

The Premier League table above shows the live probability – as calculated by the Opta supercomputer – of each team finishing the season in every position. Prior to Sunday’s game, Arsenal are most likely to end the season third.

The one-sided nature of this fixture, combined with how little margin for error there is in the title race, helps contextualise the significance and importance of Sunday’s game for Arsenal; win and not only will they have inflicted a huge dent in City’s own title challenge, but they’ll have overcome a daunting psychological barrier as well.

And there’s much to be optimistic about for Arteta and his team, who look a more complete, mentally tougher and robust unit than this time last year. It’s also fair to suggest they’ve come into form at the right time.

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