After the distraction of the international break, focus and attention shift to the different leagues as race to the title gathers further steam. In the Premier League, it is a derby weekend, the Merseyside derby while in faraway Etihad, Manchester City will be playing host to Arsenal.
In recent outings dating back to few seasons, Manchester City have been all conquering in clashes against Arsenal in the Premier League, it has been total annihilation from the last few outings under former bosses, Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery, Mikel Arteta also had a fair share of that unsavory encounter when Manchester City beat Arsenal 3-0 in a rescheduled game which heralded the start of “Project Restart” at the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
Arteta got his pound of flesh few weeks later albeit in another competition, the Emirates FA Cup. The victory over City at Wembley showed Arteta had learnt a thing or two from the loss at Etihad few weeks before.
Now, the stage is set for another meeting and this time, it is expected to be bigger and better. Arsenal on their part have been shrewd in the summer, doing some decent deals in the window, Gabriel Maghales, Willian Borges, Dani Ceballos and the biggest of them all, Thomas Partey.
While the others have had their debuts, recording goals and assists, Partey is expected to make his debut at the weekend after his deadline drbay arrival at the Emirates.
The former Athletico Madrid midfielder is expected to walk into the team and straight into the starting line-up to give the midfield the much needed steel, energy and discipline. These attributes will come in handy against Pep Guardiola’s men. City have not been without their fair share of turbulent start to the season suffering shock humiliating home loss to Leicester City and a draw to returnees, Leeds United.
If those results say anything, it is that Manchester City are vulnerable and up for the taking for any team ready to take the risk and that is where Partey comes in. For Arsenal to stand a chance in the game, they must be disciplined and organized especially in defence and ready to take their chances when it falls kindly to them.
For Arsenal, it is debut for Partey but for City, they would be hoping to welcome back their Belgian playmaker, Kevin De Bruyne. Guardiola got a scare during the international break when it was reported that the former Bremen star had sustained a freak injury and was set to miss out on the Super Sunday clash but positive signs are that he would be fit in time for the match. In De Bruyne, City have their conductor but in Partey, Arsenal would hope to have their destroyer, one that would be disrupting City’s rhythm and putting the Gunners in good stead to launch swift counter attacks.
The expectations are high on Thomas Partey and Arsenal at the Etihad against Manchester City sets a good stage for the perfect audition.
Projected Arsenal IX
Holding Gabriel Luiz
Bellerin Partey Ceballos Tierney
Willian Lacazette Aubamenyang