Arsenal face a dangerous animal in a Manchester City side who lost their last Premier League fixture and had the opportunity to rest a few players midweek in their Champions League fixture.
Arsenal rotated in their Europa League game too, and boss Freddie Ljungberg will know the importance of a decent showing in this game against a noticeably stronger opponent. Get outclassed and his prospects of keeping the managers job will wink out of existence. Get a good showing and do the team proud and he could extend his stay in the hotseat.
It won’t be easy though.
While City are out of the title race by Guardiola’s own admission, they are still one of if not THE best team in the league and can dismember any team within minutes. With our defence being a little too accommodating of late, it is understandable that a lot of us Gooners are going into this game with a little apprehension.
Still, a decent display in this game could really perk up our confidence and we need to go into it thinking we can win it, otherwise we have no chance.
How will we line up against the champions?
Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin are both expected to rejoin first team training next week, with Dani Ceballos perhaps a week after. All three will miss out for this game.
Nicolas Pepe may too miss out despite impressing of late, and will be a late decision. Kieran Tierney is out for around three months.
Ljungberg will have been impressed with the showing of Bukayo Saka in midweek, the youngster saved the team from the ignominy of a defeat to Standard Liege with an exciting display that consisted of a goal and an assist and was the standout man in the team throughout the game. Saka may well have played himself into the side.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was rested for that game and should come straight back in, but will Gabriel Martinelli keep his spot in the side? The young Brazilian has been a great inclusion, and could keep Lacazette on the bench.
Ljungberg also needs to decide how he is going to keep City quiet, but he will have to do so without Granit Xhaka, who was concussed in his last game and will be managed, which means he will miss out. Lucas Torriera will be in the side, but does Ljungberg go with two or three in the centre?
Player to Watch
The Algerian may or may not start, such is the embarrassment of fortunes in attack that City possess, but his direct play and fondness of cutting in will test our full-backs and stretch our centre-halves. Mahrez possesses plenty of nous to pin us back and outwit our lumbering defence. The problem with City though, is that we could concentrate on shutting down Mahrez, but they have another four or five to hurt you.
How this could go
This could be a real goal fest. Both sides are adept at scoring goals, but City are far better at shutting sides out, whereas we have a penchant for self-destruction.
The likes of Sokratis, Luiz and co need to really step up for this one. We have looked slightly better with Calum Chambers involved, but even though City will be without Sergio Aguero, they have Gabriel Jesus, David and Bernardo Silva, Mahrez and De Bruyne loading the bullets.
We really will be up against it, but we have specialized in bossing possession under Ljungberg, whereas that won’t be the case in this game. Playing on the counter could well suit us.
City will be wanting to bounce straight back, we need to be wary of this game.
Predicted Lineup – Leno, Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Sokratis, Kolasinac, Torreira, Guendouzi, Willock, Ozil, Martinelli, Aubameyang
Predicted Scoreline – 2-2