Arsenal return to action after more than three months away tonight as they travel to the Etihad to take on Manchester City in what will be manager Mikel Arteta’s first clash with his former boss.
This fixture was initially scheduled in for March 1, but our opponents reached the final of the EFL Cup, which saw the fixture moved to March 11, but then the Coronavirus pandemic hit and that date had to be moved once again.
Everything is now in place for the match to finally go ahead, although the circumstances are obviously changed somewhat.
Players will now have to adjust to playing inside stadiums without fans, as well as playing in warmer conditions than they would previously be used to, with the division usually having finished by this part of the summer.
Our team will also be allowed to make five substitutes during the 90 minutes, although I believe they are still only allowed to stop play three times in order to make those changes.
Predicted Arsenal XI:
Bellerin Mari Luiz Tierney
Pepe Ozil Aubameyang
It was quite tough to leave out the likes of Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka and Calum Chambers here, with the former the most likely inclusion in the starting line-up, possibly over Lacazette, but I expect all three to feature, assuming Chambers is fully fit as reported.
Mikel Arteta will no doubt have his team fired up for the encounter as he looks to take on Pep in a mentor v mentored match-up. It may also be interesting to see Mari take on his old boss, having been overlooked to make a single senior appearance during his time with City, while Arteta looks to take full advantage of his talent.
I know it should seem ludicrous to expect a win at the Etihad, but with the Bundesliga highlighting how little an advantage playing at home is in the new climate, I’m fully backing my team to get a result.
We are on the back of three consecutive league wins for the first time this season, and I’m going to predict a fourth today. I think a clean sheet may be a little too much to ask for, but I can see us just outscoring our rivals in a five-goal thriller (2-3).
Am I being biased in tipping us to win tonight or are we seriously in our best spot to beat City in the league since 2015?