Fixture Forecast: Will Arsenal upset Man City, and will Barcelona maintain win streak?

Yahoo Sports

Predicting the beautiful game can be a fool’s errand, but fortune favors the bold. Yahoo Soccer has run the stats and analyzed the form books for five of the biggest games this weekend …

Arsenal vs. Manchester City

Manchester City head to Arsenal for Sunday’s marquee Premier League kickoff, with both sides desperate for a win. 

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Freddie Ljunberg’s Gunners faltered in the Swede’s first home game in charge, but can climb back into the top six with a victory. City, meanwhile, have all but ceded their claim to a third successive title by gifting a 14-point lead to Liverpool. Pep Guardiola’s charges have already lost four matches this season—the same amount they lost in their entire 2018-19 campaign. 

Frankly, there couldn’t be a better time for Arsenal to take on the incumbent champions. They are slowly finding their feet under their new manager, their guests still face issues in defense, and Sergio Aguero is likely to be absent from proceedings. There is a growing feeling that Guardiola will consider moving on in due course

Freddie Ljungberg is looking for an early signature win as Arsenal manager. (REUTERS/Eddie Keogh)
Freddie Ljungberg is looking for an early signature win as Arsenal manager. (REUTERS/Eddie Keogh)

However, the Gunners own a poor recent record against the Citizens, having lost each of their last five encounters, and conceding 14 goals in the process. The North London side have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 12 matches in all competitions, which bodes well for a City team who have scored eight goals in their last two away games. 

Despite their recent shortcomings and away team status, City are priced as strong favorites in this encounter and there is plenty of reason to believe they will find the net on more than one occasion. Their own porous defense, however, minimizes the chance of a clean sheet on the road. 

Prediction: Arsenal 1-2 Manchester City

Best Bet: City to win and both teams to score is a safe bet at +135 on BetMGM, given the overall lack of defensive fortitude in this encounter. But Gabriel Jesus to score the first goal at +350 on BetMGM offers much better value. The Brazilian has scored six times in his last two away games and Arsenal have conceded first in their last five league games. 

Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona

Barcelona’s paradoxical season enters its latest chapter this weekend with a trip to the Basque country to face Real Sociedad. The Catalans are top of the league, have won seven matches in all competitions and put together some jaw-dropping forward play in last weekend’s victory over Mallorca. But coach Ernesto Valverde is still attracting ire from the Blaugrana faithful thanks to a lack of defensive solitude and attacking ideas when talisman Lionel Messi isn’t taking command

Regardless, Barca are strong favorites in this encounter, having won their last seven matches against Sociedad in all competitions. 

However, the hosts have the potential to put the cat among the pigeons: They defeated a table-topping Barcelona at the Reale Arena in April 2016, which represented their fifth consecutive home victory over the Catalan giants. Sociedad are currently riding high in fourth place, having already beaten Atletico Madrid at home in this campaign. 

Will Luis Suarez's run of form continue against Real Sociedad? (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Will Luis Suarez's run of form continue against Real Sociedad? (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Imanol Alguacil’s side have only failed to score in one of their last 13 league matches and have the potential to remind the world of the cracks that are being papered over at Barcelona this season. Given Barca’s leaky defense and patchy history at this stadium, a score draw seems to be the winning ticket here. 

Prediction: Real Sociedad 2-2 Barcelona

Best Bet: Both teams to score and a draw is priced at a very attractive +375 on BetMGM. Barca have kept only one clean sheet in their last six league games and have conceded in each of their last nine visits to the Reale Arena.

Bayern Munich vs. Werder Bremen

No, that Bundesliga table you are looking at is not broken: Bayern Munich actually are in seventh place after fourteen games. 

A midweek Champions League victory over a second-string Tottenham side belies the fact that Die Roten have lost their last two league games, despite being the far superior side who rained shots on goal in each instance.

There is a growing feeling that the mental weakness in this team did not stem from former coach Niko Kovac — and that Hansi Flick’s favorable schedule at the start of his tenure concealed this issue. 

This weekend, however, Bayern have an opportunity to boost their confidence with the closest thing to a “gimme” that they are likely to be given. Werder Bremen sit just two points above the relegation zone, having lost four of their last five outings. Last weekend, they lost at home to a poor Paderborn side who are destined for the drop. And Bremen’s extensive injury list also includes USMNT star Josh Sargent right now. 

Furthermore, Bayern have won their last 20 games against Bremen in all competitions. Yes, twenty

While Bayern should be much less wasteful in front of goal this weekend, Bremen also have a good chance of getting a consolation goal. They have scored at least twice in six of their last seven league away matches and Bayern have leaked 16 goals in their last nine league matches. 

Prediction: Bayern Munich 4-1 Werder Bremen

Best Bet: There’s little value in backing a Bayern win (-715 with BetMGM) but consider Thomas Muller to score the opening goal at +375. The German has two goals and an assist in his last three outings and scored in Bayern’s most recent meeting with Bremen.  

Thomas Muller and Bayern Munich's Bundesliga play has not been good this season. (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Thomas Muller and Bayern Munich's Bundesliga play has not been good this season. (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Fiorentina vs. Internazionale 

It’s been a challenging week for Inter Milan: Antonio Conte’s side were unceremoniously dumped out of the Champions League after their midweek home loss to Barcelona, and they saw their lead at the top of Serie A cut to two points when they could only draw with Roma at the San Siro last weekend. 

The Nerazzurri also have a troubling record at the Artemio Franchi Stadium — they have failed to win any of their previous five visits. The last meeting in Florence, back in February, was an eventful 3-3 draw, in which the hosts secured a point in the 92nd minute via a penalty awarded by VAR. 

La Viola also held Juventus to a draw at home this season, and have taken points from the likes of Milan and Atalanta on the road. 

However, Inter are the marginal favorites in this encounter and have won their last seven away games in the league, scoring no fewer than two goals on each occasion. 

Conte’s side will be looking for an opportunity to bounce back from their midweek European disappointment and are likely to do so against a Fiorentina side who have lost their last four league matches. 

Prediction: Fiorentina 1-2 Inter Milan

Best Bet: Inter to win and both teams to score at +275 on BetMGM. Inter have conceded in their last seven trips to Florence and are conceding nearly a goal per game on average this season.  

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