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Mikel Arteta has learnt – now Arsenal may have hard edge of champions

Declan Rice of Arsenal celebrates following the Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal FC at Etihad Stadium
A tenacious defensive display from Arsenal earned them a point at the Etihad - Getty Images/Stuart MacFarlane

For a game of momentous importance with meagre positive statistics – not least in the barren goals column – here is one that underlines the value of this gritty performance for Arsenal: they became the first team to keep a clean sheet away to Manchester City for 882 days.

Despite that the winners were undoubtedly Liverpool, who had the luxury of putting their feet up and watching their rivals go hammer and tongs at each other in the knowledge that they had already beaten Brighton & Hove Albion.

At the final whistle players from both teams dropped to the turf, trying to process both the effort they had expended and whether this was a good result for them or their opponents. Certainly, the celebrations from Arsenal showed that they were the happier. Even so we will only know the true significance of this result when the Premier League season ends in just seven weeks’ time.

Arsenal's Takehiro Tomiyasu (C-L) and Arsenal's William Saliba (R) cheer after the English Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal in Manchester, Britain, 31 March 2024
Arsenal trail league leaders Liverpool by a point - Shutterstock/Peter Powell

Jurgen Klopp had joked that the best result for Liverpool had been for both City and Arsenal to lose and while, obviously, that was not possible this was the next best thing.

With nine games to go, Liverpool come out of the weekend with a two-point lead over Arsenal and a three-point advantage over City and while those margins are extremely thin, the top three have cancelled each other out to such an extent that they are incredibly evenly balanced.

Any lead is crucial and Liverpool and Arsenal – at home to Sheffield United and Luton Town in midweek – know they face less difficult next opponents than City, who host Aston Villa.

While City will point to their obvious and expected dominance – with 72 per cent possession and twice as many shots – this also felt like the match which showed just how much Mikel Arteta has learnt.

Asked what Arsenal needed to do to adapt to having so little of the ball, the manager said: “Clarity. Are you ready to follow 30 passes? And then follow another 30 passes? Then you are ready to play Manchester City.”

Arsenal showed that discipline and a willingness to do the dirty work. Defensively they were so well-organised – another phrase for ‘parking the bus’ – that it suggested they have the stomach for the fight in what could be such a memorable run-in.

Unsurprisingly, their best performers were the centre-halves Gabriel and William Saliba, who again acquitted themselves well against Erling Haaland and, ahead of them, Declan Rice who was once more excelled in midfield.

William Saliba of Arsenal wins a header against Erling Haaland of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal FC at Etihad Stadium on March 31, 2024 in Manchester, England
Erling Haaland had a tough afternoon against William Saliba and Gabriel - Getty Images/Robbie Jay Barratt

Having dabbled with a bid for Rice last summer before he joined Arsenal, and having previously signed Kalvin Phillips over him, it highlighted a rare misstep in the transfer market by Pep Guardiola and City.

Arsenal’s security meant there was never any chance of a repeat of last season’s 4-1 drubbing and certainly not the 5-0 defeat that preceded on their previous visit to the Etihad.

To come away with a clean sheet having conceded nine goals in their last two games here, and having lost eight consecutive games away to City, is an undeniable sign of progress.

There will be one pang of regret, as they became the first team to stop City scoring in 58 home fixtures, and that was that this also represented something of a missed opportunity. Yes, City are the champions, are probably the best team in Europe and possess extraordinary strength in depth but they were also vulnerable.

City were missing Ederson, Kyle Walker, John Stones and lost Nathan Ake to injury early on and so should Arteta have gone for them more than he did? Could he have made a real, decisive statement? Maybe as he returns to London, satisfied with the outcome, he may feel that, although he could justifiably claim he was hampered by Bukayo Saka not being fully fit and Gabriel Martinelli only able to play a role from the substitutes bench late on. Had Arsenal taken one of the attacking opportunities that presented itself it would have been the perfect gameplan.

Bukayo Saka of Arsenal battles for possession with Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal FC at Etihad Stadium on March 31, 2024 in Manchester, England
Arsenal's attacking threat was hampered when Bakayo Saka left proceedings - Getty Images/Justin Setterfield

That is a big ‘if’, of course, and if there was to be a winner it was probably going to be City given their intent although, strangely, they have now taken just four points from the other teams in the top five this season – and must improve that against Villa. Last season it was 16 points.

They might well argue, although Guardiola did not accept the invitation to do so even if there was a hint of sarcasm in his reply, that they were not helped by referee Anthony Taylor. The official wanted to let the game flow, and was reluctant to show any cards, but this led to it being broken up more with cynical fouls and time-wasting. It was remarkable that the first yellow card did not come until 67 minutes when Gabriel Jesus was penalised for kicking the ball away.

Capitalising on that may again show how Arsenal are maturing and developing that hard edge that all winners require. For all the prettiness of their play, City are not adverse to tactical fouling. There is certainly less of the chaos that made last season so thrilling for Arsenal but eventually contributed to their downfall as they fell away, especially after being dismissed by City.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (C-R) and Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola (C-L) hug after the English Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal in Manchester, Britain, 31 March 2024
A valuable point for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal - Shutterstock/Peter Powell

It may well have been very different had Ake connected fully with a close-range header in the opening minutes – instead he sent it straight at goalkeeper David Raya – or had Jesus not dragged a shot wide or failed to reach a dangerous cross from Martin Odegaard.

But these were slim pickings. City had 12 efforts on goal; Arsenal six. None were easy to recall while the disjointed nature of it all was perhaps summed up late on when Haaland finally had a sight of goal at the far post only to get his footwork wrong and commit an air-shot. He looked as surprised as everyone else. It was a missed opportunity. As was this game. Time will tell if it was more for City or Arsenal.

How visitors stopped City

Low block and staying compact

Negating Foden and Silva

Accepting harmless possession 40 yards out

Defensive wingers

If all else fails... just clear it


Manchester City vs Arsenal: As it happened


07:19 PM BST

Hard-fought contest

Arsenal the happier. Jason’s report appears above. Thanks for following and goodnight.


07:18 PM BST

Pep to BBC

“Tough game. Quite similar game to the last ones, take the point and onto the next. They make a really good pressing. They are a master of that. It is what it is. In the end we tried.”


07:15 PM BST

Arteta to Sky

“It is tough because they have so many different stuctures and move so much inside and on the base, from the winger stepping inside, from the centre backs stepping up, the full backs stepping up.

“You have to maintain certain principles to be able to keep them under pressure, and when you don’t then you are low. At that point you have to be disciplined so they cannot pin you up at any moment.

“We need to adapt. It is like that with every manager, but the problem is today it is the best manager in the world, so it is much more difficult.

“Coming to these big places not a lot of teams have done what we have done today, especially when there is a lot at stake and the pressure elevates. To respond to it is another step.”


06:52 PM BST

Bernardo Silva to Sky Sports

“Tough, tough game against a top team. It could have gone either way. I felt we had more of the possession, it is never easy to defend against teams that press high but defend deep in a six and do it so well.

“Two different games from them. They press high and aggressive, almost man to man but then they drop and their wingers fall back and they have the six in a line. They have become more experienced, their young players are better.

“We have to be realistic, we are not favourites any more. We don’t depend on ourselves, we need Liverpool and Arsenal to drop points now.”


06:48 PM BST

Only one team trying to win it in second half

A better point for Arsenal than City on the face of it. Arsenal defended extremely well, giving City little space in which to work and looking a very different team to the one that was sliced open here last season. Rice, Saliba and Gabriel offered a very strong spine. City were the only team trying to win the game in the second half but lacked any real conviction or imagination in attack.


06:42 PM BST

Stats

Only three shots on target.

Theo Walcott: “When you come to City and get a result... Neither Arsenal and City deserved to win it. Sometimes you see players come back from the international break maybe a bit lethargic, not as well prepared. Maybe that happened today.”


06:38 PM BST

Here’s Saliba and Odegaard on Sky

Saliba: “We cannot be satisfied with a draw but we live with it. We did well. City best team in the world so we have to be focused the whole game.”

Odegaard: “Any team in the world would miss this guy, the defending and the quality on the ball. We are so glad he is fit. A lot of defending and that is tiring, your legs are heavy, when we had the ball going forward could have passed better. We didn’t plan to defend as deep as we did.”


06:28 PM BST

Roy Keane

“I think that Liverpool are favourites now. I don’t think the point is enough for City.”


06:26 PM BST

Post-match

Gabriel and Haaland having a few words, Pep Guardiola comes over and he too has a few words with the Arsenal defender. Seems more passionate, or what Souey would call “Men. Going at it” than nasty. And now Gabriel and Haaland have a big hug. Aw.

Erling Haaland of Manchester City interacts with Gabriel of Arsenal
Erling Haaland of Manchester City interacts with Gabriel of Arsenal - Getty

Liverpool the side who will be the happiest... Liverpool 67 points, Arsenal 65, City 64.


06:24 PM BST

Full time: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Hard fought. Arsenal came with a plan, they stuck to it, and their prize is a draw away from home.


06:22 PM BST

90+2 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Cross comes in... aimed at the head of Haaland... is this the moment? No! Saliba with a mighty clearing header. Well defended.

That’s two of the five minutes of injury time.


06:20 PM BST

90 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

City pushing, Arsenal standing firm. Gabriel and Haaland are having a terrific battle.


06:16 PM BST

87 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

So a big chance each in the last couple of minutes. A delay, Martinelli has had a knock.


06:15 PM BST

86 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Trossard on the break, he’s got Saka with him and the watching world is screaming “pass it!”. Reader, he didn’t. Tried to go himself and the shot was blocked, as it was inevitably going to be.

Leandro Trossard of Arsenal has a shot saved by Stefan Ortega
Leandro Trossard of Arsenal has a shot saved by Stefan Ortega - Getty

06:12 PM BST

84 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Inexplicable miss from Haaland! He gets onto a knock down from Gvardiol , he has only to tap it in but he somehow fails to make contact from about four yards.

Erling Haaland of Manchester City misses
Erling Haaland of Manchester City misses - Andrew Yates / Sportimage

06:08 PM BST

Arsenal playing for a point

Arsenal getting deeper and deeper the longer the half goes on, playing for a point while maybe hoping they get one meaningful counter. City are probing more but still lack conviction in the final third and the final ball is missing. De Bruyne is only now starting to get a little more space but none of City’s attackers have really hit the mark - at least not yet. It’s been a sea of red and white shirts camped between the 18-yard box and edge of the centre circle with Arsenal so far refusing to give up much.


06:08 PM BST

78 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Arsenal’s keeper, Raya, is booked for timewasting.


06:06 PM BST

76 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Doku gathers the ball on the right, looks extremely talented and dangerous for a second and then it all amounts to the square root of nada. Very on brand for Count Doku.


06:04 PM BST

75 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Suddenly a moment! Kevin DB fizzes the ball across low, Gabriel just about gets it away. City turning the screw now. They keep the pressure on. They win a corner. Arsenal keeper drops it! But gathers at the second time of asking.


06:02 PM BST

72 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Jesus can have the rest of the day off. Well he’s earned it. Trossard his replacement.


05:58 PM BST

70 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Two of the best sides you’ll ever see have just produced a few seconds of base comedy and general hopelessness, losing the ball, tripping over it, tackling own players, etc etc. Eventually an Arsenal player wellies it clear. Ave it.


05:56 PM BST

67 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Those hoping for a more explosive second half have, as yet, been disappointed. City have had two touches in their opponent’s box, Arsenal 1. Zero shots on target since the interval for either side.


05:55 PM BST

66 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Referee Taylor has finally found his cards, and Gabriel Jesus is the first recipient.


05:55 PM BST

65 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Arsenal making some changes of their own. Kiwior and Jorginho off. Partey and Tomiyasu on. Same changes that Arsenal made in the reverse fixture.


05:52 PM BST

63 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Grealish surges forward and Saka treads on his instep. Freekick City. Cleared by Arsenal.


05:52 PM BST

City need a gear change

Doku and Grealish are coming on for City, who need a gear change. They’ve managed to get a little momentum in the last five minutes but Arsenal still look comfortable defending in that compact block. Foden has been outstanding this season but it’s not been his afternoon and he is one to make way alongside Kovacic.


05:50 PM BST

60 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Time for some changes: Foden and Kovacic off. Doku and Grealish on.


05:49 PM BST

57 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Rodri drills one from the edge of the box, well blocked.


05:47 PM BST

55 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Foden’s corner is well dealt with by Arsenal.


05:41 PM BST

52 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

More spice in the game now: Arsenal putting in some beefy challenges. Jorginho to the fore.


05:41 PM BST

51 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

That was the best moment for Arsenal. Saka crackles into life, tears down the right and crosses low. Jesus cannot get there - any contact and that was a goal.


05:35 PM BST

47 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Most attractive move of the match as Lewis spins and controls, slips it, and Kovacic lets rip with a shot just wide.


05:34 PM BST

46 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Can Arsenal maintain this chokehold?


05:33 PM BST

Oliver Brown

“It can feel as if these purportedly title-defining games are sometimes too big to lose. That was the sensation three weeks ago at Anfield, where Liverpool and Manchester City were content at playing their part in one of the great 1-1 draws. But where that contest brought end-to-end exhilaration, this is struggling to ignite. Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta, the sorcerer and his apprentice, are cancelling each other out with their tactical intricacy. Volume at the Etihad, often a cauldron on these occasions, has seldom risen above a low murmur.”

Arsenal's David Raya kept out this Nathan Ake moment - will City live to regret it?
Arsenal's David Raya kept out this Nathan Ake moment - will City live to regret it? - Reuters

05:24 PM BST

Bit of a chess game

Defensively, it’s chalk and cheese from Arsenal from this time last year when they were torn apart 4-1 at the Etihad. They have a very compact shape and are forcing City out wide. City have got to the byline a couple of times but the cross hasn’t been good enough or they have had no-one attacking the near post. City are finding there is little space to go through the middle. Arsenal have transitioned pretty well and fashioned a couple of openings but it’s a pretty cagey affair in the main with both sides petrified about leaving any space to exploit. It’s interesting see City in possession. Since Ake went off, they’re effectively 3-2-4-1 with the ball but with Kovacic at left back and Gvardiol higher up on the left flank with Lewis tucking in alongside Rodri. Bit of a chess game thus far. Maybe it opens up a little in the second.


05:21 PM BST

Half time: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a load of fuss about naff all, but that was a forgettable affair for the neutral at least. Two exciting teams, one insipid half. Cancelled each other out, maybe. Tactical battle and all that. I cannot say that either side looks especially nervous or anything. Not a lot of blood and thunder either.


05:19 PM BST

45 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Notorious hatchet man Kevin de Bruyne fouls B Saka. Kev looks frustrated, out of his groove.


05:18 PM BST

44 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Foden has a shot charged down.


05:18 PM BST

43 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

City have had more of the territory but Arsenal, I’d say, have had the better of the chances. Such as they have been. Rice takes a corner, Rodri clears.


05:11 PM BST

39 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Akanji whips it in for Rodri, who goes for a header with Gabriel. The latter gets a whack in the puss for his troubles, unintentional.


05:09 PM BST

37 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Rice and Haaland tangle, Declan chops him down and that would be a yellow most days but Cheshire whistler Anthony Taylor has kept his cards in his pockets today. City settle for a freekick that comes to not a lot.


05:06 PM BST

35 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Saka, quiet for the first half hour, coming into this. Nearly gets his cross in. Arsenal enjoying their best spell of the game.

Dan Zeqiri, our Arsenal/tactics expert, explains Arsenal’s sudden improvement thus: “Arsenal are pressing a bit higher up the pitch and are onto Rodri more. Ake going off has hampered City as well.”


05:05 PM BST

33 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

It’s all about Jesus today and he’s trying his best to beat all of the City defenders at once. So nearly squeezes through but City have big numbers back.


05:01 PM BST

30 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Jesus with some good feet to get away from Bernardo Silva, fashions a bit of space and fires wide of the post.


04:59 PM BST

27 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Kiwor bodychecks Bernardo.

Arsenal looking a bit stretched here and putting in a few fouls.

Could see that as evidence of them being rattled, could see it as having a welcome bit of mongrel.


04:57 PM BST

26 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Saliba with a foul on de Bruyne.


04:57 PM BST

Blow for City with Ake injured

Nathan Ake is injured and Pep Guardiola and his assist Juanma Lillo are furious he has not got down to allow them to make the substitution. Arsenal broke with Martin Odegaard playing Kai Havertz in behind with Stefan Ortega getting to the ball just in time as the Arsenal forward flew in. It was panic stations in the City technical area, Guardiola wildly motioning for Ake to have gone down and Lillo flying out of his seat to demand the same. Rico Lewis is on.


04:56 PM BST

23 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Rare attack for Arsenal. Havertz linked up well and getting it back well from Jesus. Havertz lunges into the box, the City keeper come out and gets a sore one for his troubles. Brave keeping from Ortega.


04:52 PM BST

Managerial emotional wringer

We’re only 15 minutes in and already you’re getting a glimpse of the emotional wringer these two managers put themselves through on the touchline. Mikel Arteta is cajoling, clapping and organising. Pep Guardiola has that pensive look he tends to wear in these matches. It’s probably a thrill in keeping with riding a terrifying rollercoaster managing these games - knots in your stomach, queasiness at times, in all search of those feelings of pure exhilaration and elation.


04:46 PM BST

15 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Corner for City. Shipped near the keeper, no Arsenal head on it. Ake! Ooh he could have scored, maybe should have. Seemed to be unsighted as it came through a crowd scene and he’s ended up shouldering the ball rather than heading it. Raya clutches it gratefully.


04:44 PM BST

13 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

But here is a potential outlet: Jorginho out to White on the right, gallops down the flank but his cross is not up to snuff.


04:43 PM BST

12 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

The visitors are pinned back, City probing and pressurising. Arsenal cannot keep the ball, nor get out.


04:43 PM BST

9 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

City got Arsenal where they want ‘em.


04:40 PM BST

Keir’s in

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer

04:39 PM BST

7 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

White and Havertz combine smartly, and the former delivers a neat little cross. Jesus! Big day for the lad etc etc and so on. But no Easter treat just yet for Gabriel J, he’s controlled it well enough and fired at the goal but the wrong size of the post.

Jesus shoots
Jesus shoots

04:35 PM BST

4 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

KDB whips it in but Ben White heads behind before the lurking Erling can make his presence felt.

Corner in is a dangerous one but Arsenal clear.


04:34 PM BST

3 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Bernardo with a mazy, pacy run forward. Gabriel Jesus jumps all over his back, in a sort of better looking Martin Kewon tribute act stylee. That’s a handily placed freekick for City.


04:33 PM BST

2 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

City with a patient build up, then Haaland sent through. Offside, surely, but they play on. Saliba takes the opportunity to put a hard tackle in on the City forward.


04:31 PM BST

1 mins: Man City 0 Arsenal 0

Havertz getting on the ball early.


04:30 PM BST

A warm, brisk, embrace

between Pep and Mik. Jurgen Klopp on Sky just now: “I hope they both lose.”

Arsenal will kick off.

PepnMik
PepnMik

04:24 PM BST

38 home games unbeaten

at the Etihad for Manchester City.


04:22 PM BST

Ten minutes until kick off

Two superb teams. Arsenal have been ripping opponents apart recently so how will they adapt to having to defend their box?


04:20 PM BST

Sky Studio Guest: T Walcott

Theo Walcott also joins in some ribbing of Richards: “you’re worried, today, aren’t you?”

“I’m impartial,” claims Richards.


04:18 PM BST

David Jones

asks Micah Richards if the Liverpool result means that City HAVE to win, and then teasingly paraphrases the big man’s response as “it’s not a must win, but you have to win.”


04:05 PM BST

Managers

Arteta: “Feel the energy, look forward to playing these games. We have faced some very strong opponents but the success we have had is because we continue to be ourselves and that is what we have to do today.”

Pep: “If experience gives you 3-0 before the start of the game then great, but... [laughs]. I never doubt our belief, what we are capable of.”


04:01 PM BST

Liverpool have held on

against Brighton and it is they who sit top of the table as this match begins.


03:53 PM BST

City vs Arsenal lineups


03:48 PM BST

On Friday, Stones was ruled out...

Well, well, well. On Friday, John Stones was ruled out of this game against Arsenal. Pep Guardiola said he would be “out”. And yet here we are, and there is the name of John Stones on Manchester City’s bench. Mind games by Guardiola? Could be. Perhaps Stones simply recovered quicker than anyone expected.

Of course, time will tell if Stones is actually fit enough to come off the bench, and for how long. But it is interesting that Guardiola was so keen to rule him out, especially when one considers how central Stones has become to City’s tactical plans. No one else operates as effectively as a defender-midfielder hybrid.

For Arsenal, the major team news is that Gabriel Jesus starts — presumably on the left wing. Gabriel Martinelli has made the bench, while Bukayo Saka is fit enough to start despite withdrawing from England duty. No surprises there. Saka was never going to miss this one.


03:38 PM BST

Respect shown

Here’s Mikel Arteta on the BBC: “They have raised the bar to levels not seen before in football. You have to keep up with that pace and that is what we are trying to do.”


03:31 PM BST

Team news

and

in the widely considered obsolete ‘written word’ format, too.

Man City: Ortega, Akanji, Dias, Ake, Gvardiol, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne, Kovacic, Foden, Haaland. Subs: Stones, Grealish, Doku, Alvarez, Gomez, Matheus Luiz, Carson, Bobb, Lewis.

Arsenal: Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior, Odegaard, Jorginho, Rice, Saka, Havertz, Gabriel Jesus. Subs: Ramsdale, Partey, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Nketiah, Tomiyasu, Trossard, Vieira, Zinchenko.

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)


03:29 PM BST

Arsenal rallying cry

all a bit LinkedIn, isn’t it?

Synergy. Engagement. Etc.


03:21 PM BST

Team news coming up in ten mins

or so


03:21 PM BST

Sky Sports

doing some good work today, they’ve had Trent Alexander-Arnold doing an extended interview pitchside, talking about the technical aspects of the warm-up at Anfield, as well as decent access to Odegaard and an eye-catching interview with Rodri of Man City: “They have to come to our house and steal if from us”


03:06 PM BST

Best betting offers

Pep’s side are laden with injuries, giving Arsenal a big chance to hold strong in the title race. Back your predictions for the game with these best betting sites.


03:04 PM BST

Martin Odegaard

speaks to Sky Sports, saying: “we are confident.”


02:06 PM BST

Huge game in the Title race

Good afternoon, hope you are having a happy and restful Easter Sunday and thank you for joining us for this big match in the Premier League, where Arsenal (top of the table this morning) travel to Manchester City (third in the table this morning). I mention “this morning” because the other contender in the battle is Liverpool, and they are currently in action at home to Brighton, so the game’s afoot at the top of the table. Liverpool went 0-1 early on, good news for both City and Arsenal fans you’d fancy. You can follow that blog live with m’colleague Dan Zeqiri here. Kick off from Manchester City will be at 4.30pm.

It is a fascinating encounter and there are some very good previews about it from HMDT’s football experts. Sam Wallace has an in-depth look at how City learned from Arsenal in terms of recruitment, and then applied their far superior financial resources to surge ahead. “City hunted Arsenal down as the weakest of the Premier League’s big four at the end of the 2000s and did so effectively. They signed some of their best players,” writes Sam. Well worth a read How Manchester City hunted Arsenal off the pitch in bid for world domination.

The splendid Declan Rice spent some time recently talking to our Arsenal correspondent Sam Dean, in this here piece Declan Rice interview: This is a new Arsenal – we are ready to change what people say. The Basmati Busquets says that the days of Arsenal being mentally flaky in these big matches are long gone. Rice: “I think we are ready to change that barrier about what people say about Arsenal. But it’s down to us. We are the ones who have to go on the pitch and do it.” No time like the present, is there?

Pep’s having a few pops at his former protege: “But after more than 20 years Arsenal haven’t won the Premier League, so they will have something to prove and that’s normal.” Read more of that here as Pep Guardiola ramps up mind games ahead of Arsenal showdown: They have had it easy in title race.

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