Preview: Manchester City vs. Arsenal – prediction, team news, lineups

An Easter Sunday Etihad extravaganza headlines the return of Premier League football following the international break, as holders Manchester City welcome leaders Arsenal to their headquarters for a battle of epic proportions.

Mikel Arteta returns to his former stomping ground with his side boasting a one-point lead over the treble winners, which will increase to four if they can banish their nine-year Etihad curse.

 

Manchester City's Bernardo Silva celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 16, 2024

A changing of the guard may occur before Sunday’s blockbuster showdown commences at the Etihad, as Liverpool need only glean a point from their 2pm kickoff with Brighton & Hove Albion to rise to the summit of the rankings, thereby making the closing act an encounter between the silver and bronze medallists.

For the men in sky blue, finishing on the lowest spot on the podium would be an unwanted collector’s item under Pep Guardiola – whose former student Arteta has quickly become a master of sorts – although that is nothing to do with their near-unblemished form in 2024.

As much as Guardiola may downplay it, the dream of back-to-back trebles remains a realistic one for the reigning English and European champions, who rained on Newcastle United’s parade with a 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final success before the two-week domestic pause; Chelsea now lie in wait at Wembley next month, following a tantalising Champions League quarter-final with Real Madrid.

The two-goal beating of the Magpies stretched Man City’s exceptional unbeaten run across all tournaments to 22 matches since December’s humbling at the hands of Aston Villa – including each of their last 13 in the Premier League – and their streak without defeat on Etihad turf stands at an astonishing 38 games.

Not since Brentford’s surprise 2-1 win in November 2022 have Man City been on the losing side in front of the sky blue wall, where they have won each of their last four matches across all tournaments, but arguably the toughest examination of their title credentials now awaits.

Arsenal's Gabriel with teammates celebrate after the match on March 12, 2024© Reuters

Quickly exorcising the demons of a woeful winter period, in which Arteta masterminded just one win from seven matches amid the festivities, Arsenal’s perfect Premier League record in 2024 now reads an extraordinary eight wins from eight matches, a feat never achieved before in the club’s rich history.

As Brentford raged over Kai Havertz still being on the field, the in-form German rejoiced in his 86th-minute winner to send Arsenal to first place in the table, a position they would hold over the international break thanks to Man City and Liverpool’s failure to best one another.

The Emirates exploded into pandemonium just three days later too, as David Raya made himself the 12-yard hero against Porto in their Champions League last-16 battle, and a shot at revenge against frequent conquerors Bayern Munich is their reward for ending a barren of seven successive last-16 eliminations.

Before thoughts of Bavarian vengeance take priority, Arsenal could match the nine-game Premier League winning run only previously managed by their title-winning crops of 1997-98, 2001-02 and 2003-04, and across their last-three top-flight away matches, Arteta’s outfit have notched a spectacular 17 goals while shipping a grand total of zero.

Furthermore, after repeated failures to get one over Guardiola, Arsenal have won their last two games versus Man City, in the Community Shield and October’s slender Emirates success. However, not since January 2015 have the Gunners emerged victorious at the Etihad, and the time is nigh to emulate Arsene Wenger‘s charges if Arsenal’s name is to be etched on the Premier League trophy again

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