Manchester City vs. Arsenal Pick to Win

Manchester City vs. Arsenal, England Premier (EPL) League Match Preview Etihad Stadium, Manchester England, 10:10 AM EST Sunday December 18, 2011
by Jason Green, Soccer Handicapper,

Match Odds: Manchester City 1.68 / Arsenal 5.30 / Draw 3.75
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
Moneyline: Manchester City -147 / Arsenal +430 / Draw +275

Arsenal began the EPL season terribly, but they have caught fire in the last few months and now are in 5th place in the league table. They are playing well on both sides of the pitch, but they face a tall task this Sunday facing a Manchester City squad that is in first place in the EPL and has yet to lose at home this season.

While Manchester City is in first place all is not well with the team. They lost their first league match last week against Chelsea and they also were ousted from the Champions League while Arsenal qualified for the knockout phase. Man City still leads the EPL, but their lead is only 2 points over city rival Manchester United.

Arsenal hosted Manchester City a couple weeks ago in the quarterfinals of the Carling Cup and even though they played great defense they still lost 1-0.

Man City’s offense is solid, which is an understatement, as they have scored 49 goals in EPL play this season while the next highest scoring team is Manchester United with 35 goals. Not only that, but the City defense is also solid conceding the 3rd fewest goals in the league.

The City trio of Sergio Agero, Edin Dzeko, and Mario Balotelli has combined for a stellar 29 goals this season and Agero in the player that scored the lone goal in the Carling Cup match against Arsenal a couple weeks ago. Arsenal will have their hands full in this away match and they cannot let Man City dominate the midfield or the time of possession.

Man City will press the issue on offense, as they cannot afford a loss and this is especially the case since Manchester United has an easier match this weekend facing Queen Park Rangers, who sit in 13th place in the league table. With Man City attacking all match Arsenal will have to really go for counter-attack opportunities they get.

Arsenal has scored 31 goals this season and conceded 23. Robin Van Persie leads the EPL with 15 goals on the season, but he will need some help from Mikel Arteta (3 goals) and Thomas Vermaelen (3 goals). Van Persie cannot do it all himself and if he is shut down the Gunners may be in trouble.

The Gunners focus on smooth play and good play in the midfield and they cannot allow Man City to change their game. Arsenal trails Man City by 10 points in the EPL and if they lose it will be very hard to catch them in the 2nd half f the season.

One of the reasons for the good play from Arsenal has been the play of Arsenal G Wojciech Szcz?sny, who has 2 clean sheets in his last 2 EPL matches and in his last 5 matches has only conceded 2 goals.

In their last 10 matches Man City has an Over/Under 2.5 goal record of 8-2 and Arsenal is at 7-3.

Arsenal Recent Form

12/10/2011 Arsenal 1 Everton 0 (EPL)
12/6/2011 Olympiakos 3 Arsenal 1 (Champions League)
12/3/2011 Wigan 0 Arsenal 4 (EPL)
11/29/2011 Arsenal 0 Manchester City 1 (Carling Cup)
11/26/2011 Arsenal 1 Fulham 1 (EPL)

Manchester City Recent Form

12/12/2011 Chelsea 2 Man City 1 (EPL)
12/7/2011 Man City 2 Bayern Munich 0 (Champions League)
12/3/2011 Man City 5 Norwich City 1 (EPL)
11/29/2011 Arsenal 0 Man City 1 (Carling Cup)
11/27/2011 Liverpool 1 Man City 1 (EPL)

Jason’s Pick to Win the Match: Arsenal is a pretty big betting underdog in this game, but something tells me they will pull off an upset. The Gunners are playing well and have a lot of confidence and I think this will be just like the Carling Cup match being a low scoring one, but I think the tables will be turned and Arsenal will beat Manchester City 1-0 handing City their 2nd straight EPL loss.