There are key battles likely to take place all over the pitch when Manchester City and Arsenal lock horns this Sunday at the Etihad Stadium. We have selected six to watch our for.
Fabian Delph v Alexis Sanchez
Should Alexis Sanchez start on the right flank for Arsenal, this could be one of Fabian Delph’s toughest test yet.
The Blues’ stand-in left-back has acquitted himself brilliantly well in the eight games he’s played in place of Benjamin Mendy coping with the best as seen against Chelsea, Shakhtar Donetsk and Napoli this season.
Sanchez, however, is one of the best attacking midfielders in the Premier League and whether he’s up against Delph or plays over to the left and face Kyle Walker, if he’s anywhere near his best he will be a constant threat for City.
Kevin De Bruyne v Granit Xhaka
De Bruyne and Xhaka are well familiar with each other well from their Bundesliga clashes.
The duo will have played against each other several times in the colours of Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen (KDB) and Borussia Monchegladbach (Xhaka) between 2012 and 2015.
One of Xhaka’s main tasks against on Sunday will be to stop the creative influence of De Bruyne and David Silva through the middle and the Swiss international will have the Belgian international playmaker in his sights.
The Gunners know if they can keep City’s creative department quiet, they will have a chance of ending the Blues’ 14-match winning run.
Xhaka has bettered his game from last season where he received 12 yellow cards and got sent off twice. This season, Xhaka’s been cautioned just once – though it’s worth noting the Swiss midfielder was booked in all three games against City last season.
John Stones v Alexandre Lacazette
Averaging one goal every two games, the Arsenal’s record-signing five goals in 10 matches is an impressive return and Stones will need to be on his toes against the Frenchman.
Only one of Lacazette’s goal so far has come outside the Emirates Stadium and the former Lyon striker will need to make the most of any opportunities that fall his way if he’s to hurt City. But in Stones, Lacazette could be up against the most in-form defender in the Premier League more especially Nicolas Otamendi, so the 26-year-old knows he faces a difficult 90 minutes.
Raheem Sterling v Saed Kolasinac
Sterling’s brilliant form will be a major cause of concern for the Gunners left-back Kolasinac who has quickly become something of a cult hero among Arsenal fans.
A powerful, fast left-back, Kolasinac will need to keep busy defencing rather than raiding down the flank as he’s done to great effect this season.
Kolasinac has netted three goal in 12 matches for Arsene Wenger’s side this season, but he will have to be at his best against the City winger who is arguably in the form of his life.
With eight goals in his last 10 Premier League matches and 10 goals in total, the former Liverpool winger is City’s top scorer this season and has developed a terrific habit of arriving in the box at the perfect moment.
Leroy Sane v Hector Bellerin
Sane and Bellerin could be one of the most exhilarating key battle at the Etihad on Sunday.
If Sane can get the better of the Spaniard, he could swing the game City’s way, but expect to see a more cautioned Arsenal performance at the Etihad with the visitors well-aware of leaving too many gaps for the likes of Silva, Sane and De Bruyne to expose.
Sergio Aguero v Per Mertesacker
Whether Aguero starts for City of Sunday or Gabriel Jesus – it could even be both – Mertesacker is likely to be in for a difficult afternoon.
The German centre-back recently returned from injury and has helped steady Arsenal’s defence, but Mertesacker will need to be at his best on the ground and in the air with Man City’s trickery in and around the box now matched by a growing presence from set-pieces and the free-scoring Stones and Otamendi!