Arsenal vs Man City preview: Auba misses out again

Team news, stats and prediction ahead of Arsenal vs Man City in the Premier League on January 1; kick-off 12.30pm

Team news

Arsenal will again be without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Saturday’s Premier League visit of leaders Manchester City.

The striker has been absent since a disciplinary breach saw him dropped and stripped of the captaincy and he has been allowed to leave early to link up with Gabon ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Manager Mikel Arteta will be watching from home having tested positive for Covid-19, while defensive quartet Cedric Soares, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Calum Chambers and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all missed the 5-0 Boxing Day win at Norwich after contracting coronavirus.

City defender Kyle Walker could return after missing the last four matches.

Riyad Mahrez sat out against Brentford in midweek and is set to start his last game before departing for the African Cup of Nations.

John Stones and Rodri are still doubts, as is Joao Cancelo after he was assaulted during a burglary at his home.

How to follow

Follow Arsenal vs Man City in our dedicated live match blog. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel from 5.15pm on Saturday.

Last time out…

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s 5-0 win at Norwich in the Premier League

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s win against Brentford in the Premier League

Jones Knows predicts…

There never really is the ‘perfect’ time to play Manchester City but for Arsenal, this might be close to it.

Yes, City are in irresistible form, winning the last 10 in the Premier League but Arsenal are flowing nicely too, especially at home. They are unbeaten in 11 home games in all competitions, winning 10 of those and it’s their expert defensive axis that continues to impress me. Since the Ben White, Gabriel and Aaron Ramsdale brick wall was formed, Arsenal have still not conceded a goal before the 38th minute in those 16 fixtures.

Only City have kept more clean sheets than Arsenal (9) since the trio have played together in the win over Norwich.

With Arsenal coming in the fresher team having not played since Boxing Day, the case for them to make this competitive is a strong one. I’d not put anyone off having a stab at the Arsenal double chance at 6/4 with Sky Bet, but I’m taking a more cautious route and backing them with a +2 goal start so they can win, draw or lose by one for us to land.

In their last 18 away days against top-eight sides, Man City have only won four times by more than one goal. It’s a job-done mentality rather than an all-conquering one for Pep Guardiola in these types of tricky games.

I’m happy to throw in the game to be a card friendly affair in order to boost the price, too. These two teams are notoriously well behaved in their matches. In 2021, only West Ham have seen less yellow cards given to their opponents than Arsenal (50) and Man City (53) when assessing ever-present Premier League teams. It makes the under 50+ booking points very appealing at 4/6 with Sky Bet so I’m happy to sprinkle a bit of that across a nice 100/30 same-game multi-bet priced up by Sky Bet.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-1

BETTING ANGLE: Arsenal +2 handicap, under 3.5 goals & under 50+ booking points (100/30 with Sky Bet)

Opta stats

● Arsenal have lost their last nine Premier League games against Manchester City since a 2-2 draw in April 2017 – it’s their longest ever losing run against an opponent in their league history.

● Man City have won each of their last four away league games against Arsenal, by an aggregate score of 9-0. It’s as many victories as the Citizens had picked up in their previous 50 league visits to Highbury/Emirates Stadium combined (W4 D14 L32).

● Arsenal have failed to score in their last five Premier League games against Man City – only against Chelsea (6 between 2013 and 2016) and Liverpool (6 between 1997 and 2000) have the Gunners failed to score in more consecutive league games against an opponent.

● Manchester City have opened the scoring in the first 15 minutes in all five of their Premier League away games against Arsenal under manager Pep Guardiola, netting in the first two minutes in each of the last two seasons.

● Arsenal have only lost one of their last 10 Premier League games on New Year’s Day (W8 D1), going down 2-0 at Southampton in 2015. At home, the Gunners are unbeaten in 11 New Year’s Day games (W9 D2) since a 2-1 loss against Tottenham in 1985.

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