Arsenal v Manchester City: Porous defences to provide entertainment

Both of these teams have fallen short of where they want to be this term, and Kevin Hatchard believes their fragility will lead to goals on Sunday.

Arsenal v Manchester City
Sunday 15 December, 16:30
Live on Sky Sports

Scale of task at Emirates is clear

If Freddie Ljungberg's brief spell as Arsenal interim manager has taught us anything, it's that it's hard to change the culture of a club in a handful of games, even if you have the experience of playing for that institution. The same frailties that existed under Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery are still on show, and the scale of the task for Emery's permanent replacement is clear. Ljungberg has won just one of his four games in charge, and the Gunners have conceded seven goals across those matches.
There have been bursts of attacking verve. West Ham were destroyed by a three-goal salvo in double-quick time, and at Standard Liege in midweek, Arsenal came back from 2-0 down with two goals in the space of three minutes. But the bare facts are these - Arsenal are ninth in the Premier League, and seven points adrift of the Champions League spots. No team in the top 12 has conceded more goals, and no side in the top 14 has won fewer top-flight matches this term.
Whoever takes over in the long-term must change the dynamic of the club. They must no longer solely be entertainers, but must learn to fight for results, to be more streetwise, and to be more consistent. Yes, these are football clichés to an extent, but a vein of truth runs through them. Arsenal have pleaded poverty in recent years, but money has been lavished on a squad that has underperformed and flattered to deceive.
Kieran Tierney is out with a dislocated shoulder, while both Hector Bellerin and Nicolas Pepe are battling to be fit.

City slump shows brutality of top level

They say it's tough at the top, and they are right. Manchester City racked up 198 points across the last two seasons as they won back-to-back Premier League titles, and yet this term they have been left trailing in Liverpool's wake. The long-term injury to key centre-back Aymeric Laporte has proved crucial, as has the failure to acquire a replacement for departed skipper Vincent Kompany. Genius coach Pep Guardiola (that's not sarcastic, he has an incredible football brain) has tried to repurpose the likes of Fernandinho and Rodri, but the Premier League is an unforgiving arena, with every experiment labelled "high-risk."
City are 14 points adrift of Liverpool in the title race at time of writing, and six points behind Leicester City. They have only claimed seven points from their last five matches. They have already lost four PL games this term - they only lost four in the whole of the last campaign. These are gods made into men, brilliant machines that have malfunctioned under the most enormous pressure.
However, we shouldn't rush to judgement and declare this the grim end of the glory-laden Guardiola era. City are still 4.40 favourites to win the Champions League, and although their chances of retaining the Premier League title appear incredibly slim, there are still 22 rounds of matches remaining. Expected Goals practitioners (like the lovely folks at Infogol) will tell you that City have been putting up extraordinary numbers that should have seen them claim top spot by now, and while the actual match results tell a totally different story, this is not a team that has suddenly become dreadful.
Star striker Sergio Aguero is still sidelined, but Gabriel Jesus' excellent Champions League hat-trick in midweek should see him continue to deputise. Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne were benched for that 4-1 win, and should return here. Goalkeeper Ederson should return after illness.

City too short to get the pulse racing

Manchester City are the 1.48 favourites here, and given their recent form that's a tough price to get excited about. They have dropped points in two of their last three away games, and although I believe they probably will win, I'm never quite sure if Arsenal will click and actually produce a performance their talent warrants.
I'll look elsewhere, but if you're determined to back a result then back Manchester City/Over 3.5 Goals on the Sportsbook at 2.51.
I'd recommend merely backing Over 3.5 Goals at 1.92. That bet has paid out in four of Arsenal's last six Premier League matches, and three of the clubs' last five Premier League meetings. If you look at City's recent outings, their last four away matches in all competitions have featured at least four goals.

Aubameyang and Sterling to shine?

Arsenal skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is trading at a hefty 2.74 to score here, and he has scored four goals in his last five appearances.
On the City side of things, Raheem Sterling is having a dry spell, with one goal in his last eight games for club and country. However, he has scored 19 goals overall this season, and Arsenal's forgiving defending should see him scamper into goalscoring positions. He's worth considering at 2.06.
The in-form Gabriel Jesus looked razor-sharp in midweek, and is priced at [1.9].

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