Manchester City-Arsenal Preview

Pep Guardiola claims Manchester City will require an "incredible performance" to beat an Arsenal side he considers future Premier League title contenders.

Arsenal have endured a tricky first full season under Mikel Arteta, Guardiola's former City assistant, and approach the weekend in 10th place.

But Guardiola has been impressed by their performances of late, particularly with academy graduates like Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe impressing.

He believes Arsenal will test table-topping City on Sunday, explaining: "What I see the last month or two months, every game Arsenal plays better than the opponent.

"Our dream as managers is to deserve the results. We play to deserve what we want to get. Sometimes you lose or you win, you cannot control.

"What we want to deserve (Arteta) is doing and, in the games over the last month, always they are better than the opponent - analysis in terms of controlling the game, creating more chances and conceding few.

"We must have an incredible performance to play as good as possible with the ball and run a lot in the right tempo to get the ball because they have an exceptional build-up already.

"In the final third, they have incredible energy with Smith (Rowe), Saka and (Pierre-Emerick) Aubameyang.

"In the future, they will be a real contender to fight for the titles."

But City are still the side setting the benchmark for now, winning a top-flight record 17 consecutive matches in all competitions.

Manager Arteta said of Arsenal's next opponents: "I think they are the best team in Europe at the moment.

"The way they are performing, the football they are playing and the consistency of the results, take all that and it makes them the best team.

"So we have a big, but as well a very exciting, challenge ahead of us on Sunday."

Arsenal - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Aubameyang has scored five goals in his past two Premier League starts, netting twice against Newcastle United and a hat-trick against Leeds. The last Gunners player to score two or more goals in three consecutive league starts was Derek Tapscott in March 1956, who scored braces against Portsmouth, Everton and Preston North End.

Manchester City - Raheem Sterling

Kevin De Bruyne is back to resume the City captaincy, but stand-in skipper Sterling should again have a key role. He has been involved in six goals in his past five Premier League games against Arsenal (four goals, two assists), finding the net in each of his past three against the Gunners.

- Arsenal have lost their past seven league games against City; the Gunners have only ever lost more consecutively against Leeds United (eight between 1973 and 1976).

- Since losing 2-1 at Emirates Stadium in December 2015, City are unbeaten in their past 10 Premier League meetings with Arsenal, scoring at least twice in nine of those games.

- Arsenal have failed to score in their past three home league games against City, losing each time. The Gunners have never failed to find the net in four consecutive home league games against an opponent in their history.

- City beat Arsenal 4-1 at the Emirates earlier this season in an EFL Cup tie, but only two teams have ever won away at the Gunners twice in the same season: Nottingham Forest in 1987-88 and Aston Villa in 1993-94.

- Arsenal have won just three of their past 18 Premier League games against the side starting the day of the game in top spot (W3 D4 L11), winning last time out against Liverpool in July 2020 (2-1). They last won consecutive such games in August 2007, when the second win in that run came at home to City (1-0).

Updated February 19, 2021

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