Arsenal take on Manchester City on Sunday in the season’s first title six-pointer, and we’ve priced up the Gunners at 10/1 to do the double over the champions.
Arsenal points v Manchester City odds:
bet365’s Steve Freeth said: “The Gunners did lift the Community Shield when beating them on penalties back in August, but it’s a Premier League fixture that has been dominated by Manchester City in recent years, none more so than the 4-1 drubbing in April when the pair were fighting out a title race.
“One huge positive for Mikel Arteta will be the absence of Rodri with City losing both games without the holding midfielder and he’ll be sorely missed in the third and final game before his return from suspension – so much so that we cut him for the PFA Player of the Year award after the Wolves game, despite him not playing, such is his value to the team.”
If Arsenal are to do the double over City they’ll have to buck an alarming trend that has seen them lose 12 straight league games to Pep Guardiola’s side.
In fact, you have to go back to February 2008 – before City started pinching as many Arsenal players as they could – for when the Gunners last completed a league double over Sunday’s opponents.
By and large, things have gone rather well for Mikel Arteta’s men so far this season. There was the hiccup against Fulham and they were held by Tottenham, but the Gunners remain unbeaten (and are 66/1 to end the campaign unbeaten), scoring late on to down Manchester United and have won all three away games without conceding a goal.
They did suffer a setback against Lens, however, losing 2-1 in France with Bukayo Saka going off with an injury.
The winger was a doubt for Saturday’s trip to Bournemouth but started the game and opened the scoring, taking his tally to four for the season.
It will likely prompt a bit of a reshuffle with Gabriel Martinelli unlikely to be fit for the visit of the champions, who are suffering a notable absence of their own.
Erling Haaland has hogged the limelight since arriving at the Etihad last summer, but it’s Rodri who quietly goes about his business and makes the side tick.
The Spaniard might not have played against Newcastle in the EFL Cup, with Guardiola resting a number of key players, but he would have played at Molineux, and it’s hard to see that game panning out the same with Rodri in the City midfield.
As it happened, City lost their hopes of a quadruple and any chance of matching Arsenal’s ‘invincible’ season of 2003/04 in less than a week, and a trip to Arsenal without Rodri – not to mention Kevin De Bruyne – is perhaps not what Guardiola needs ahead of the international break.