Charlie Nicholas states his prediction for Man City v Arsenal

Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas is backing Manchester City to ease to a 3-1 win against Arsenal on Wednesday night

Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola (Photo: The Sport Review)

Charlie Nicholas is backing Manchester City to ease to a 3-1 win against Arsenal in the Premier League at The Etihad on Wednesday night.

The Citizens will welcome their rivals to the Eastlands in the first Premier League fixture at The Etihad since top-flight football was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic back in March.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has declared that he has a fully fit squad for the visit of the north London side following Leroy Sane’s recovery from a knee injury.

The Citizens haven’t played a minute of competitive football since a 2-0 loss to Manchester United back in March ended a five-game winning run in all competitions before the derby defeat.

Arsenal, meanwhile, are in ninth place and 17 points adrift of Manchester City in the race to secure a top-four finish for the first time under Mikel Arteta.

The Gunners are unbeaten in the Premier League under Arteta in 2020, having not lost a game since a 2-0 defeat by Chelsea FC at the Emirates Stadium back in December.

Former Arsenal midfielder Nicholas is backing Manchester City to ease to a comfortable win against the Gunners at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.

“The break probably came at a decent time for Arsenal. They were improving under Mikel Arteta. Has he brought himself time like people have been saying? I don’t think so. All he has done has worked on a strategy a bit more,” Arteta told Sky Sports.

“The reality stares you straight in the face – Arsenal are ninth with 40 points. I look at the table and Arsenal have 13 draws in 28 games, yet they have only lost six all season.

“I would like to be more enthusiastic, but I can’t. You can work with Sokratis Papastathopoulos, David Luiz, and Shkodran Mustafi and get them to improve, but they will not improve by much.

“Luiz will move on next season and Arteta will know that Sokratis and Mustafi are all seemingly pitching to be sold.

“When you come to play Man City, the hard part is when you get the ball. You seem to be in a rush, your touch is clumsy and decision-making is rash. Keeping the ball is the hard thing. When you don’t have it, you are chasing and it drains you.”

Nicholas added: “City will have a lot of the ball – I think Arsenal will sit and play one up front. As much as Arteta loves playing a 4-3-3, he will have to protect the weakness at the back.

“The areas where Pep’s side will be overpowering will be in midfield and the wide areas. Whether Leroy Sane stays next year or not we do not know, but he will busting to get a start and get back playing. You then have the likes of Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus – the choices are remarkable.

“Man City have won one trophy, they have FA Cup to go for and the potential of the Champions League, so they have to be ready for that. City will get back in the groove, keep the ball and carve teams open. I think Arsenal will have a half-decent run-in but this will be too much for them. City will take care of business.”

Manchester City have won their last six league and cup against Arsenal, establishing their dominance over the north London outfit.

The Gunners haven’t beaten Manchester City in their last five Premier League meetings under Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery.

Kevin De Bruyne has posed a particular problem to Arsenal since his move to Manchester City, scoring four times and making two assists.

However, the Belgian’s team-mate Sergio Aguero will perhaps be Manchester City’s danger-man given that the Argentina international has netted 10 times in his last 12 games against Arsenal.

The Gunners will have two days to recover before they make the trip to Brighton, while Manchester City will host Burnley in their next Premier League game on Monday night.

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