BACK THREE OR BACK FOUR?
He won’t admit it but Guardiola seems to have learned his lesson from the Leicester defeat and played with a fourman defence against Watford.
City were far from perfect but notably reduced the space around the defence, therefore Claudio Bravo wasn’t so exposed.
John Stones was “rotated” forthat game and should return today.
Given Arsenal’s width and pace, it seems inconceivable he’ll slot into a back-three.
CAN CITY DEAL WITH GUNNERS’ PACE?
In a 4x100m relay, Arsenal’s attacking quartet would destroy City’s anticipated back-four.
City have struggled against pace and width all season, especially with Guardiola’s insistence on playing such a high defensive line.
With Fernandinho not there to support his full-backs, if Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Alex Iwobi and Alexis Sanchez are remotely on their game, this could get ugly.
With such an obvious mismatch, they simply have to play deep and ensure the midfield tracks any runners.
NOLITO OR IHEANACHO?
Guessing City’s XI can be a lottery but it’s safe to say one of Nolito or Kelechi Iheanacho will start up front.
Iheanacho started against Leicester and was poor, replaced by Nolito who did enough to earna starting role against Watford.
Except the Spaniard hardly excelled on Wednesday and, as a No9, is maybe more effective off the bench.
FERNANDO MAY BE A BUSY BOY
With Fernandinho suspended and Ilkay Gundogan and Fabian Delph injured, Guardiola’s options at the base of his midfield are limited.
Fernando should make only his fifth league start of the season but withYaya Toure and Kevin De Bruyne ahead of him, the Brazilian isn’t going to receive much help in tracking the runs of Mesut Ozil and limiting the tempo of Granit Xhaka’s passing.
Most Premier League points so far in 2016:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 17, 2016
Man City (63)
Man Utd (63)
Southampton (60) pic.twitter.com/z3XE9J9H9u
Until their 2-1 defeat at Goodison Park, Arsenal’s defensive deficiencies weren’t really being discussed; especially because their attack has functioned so well, the goals have helped paper over the cracks.
The Gunners have conceded at least one goal in their last 11 games in all competitions and Shkodran Mustafi’s injury absence hasn’t helped in terms of organisation, particularly at set-pieces, and aerial dominance.
Gabriel Paulista has looked good at times but can get dragged out of position.