This week could be the most important in the entire Premier League season.
Not only have we already had a weekend of matches, but we also have a number of games taking place in midweek, one of which is likely going to impact the destination of the Premier League title in a huge way.
Then we follow that with another set of games at the weekend, which means that for a number of teams, nine points are up for grabs across the three sets of games.
With the first set of games in the bag, plus the results of the two FA Cup Semi Finals also known, the focus is now on the midweek set of games in the EPL and there is one game in particular that captures all the attention.
At 8pm on Wednesday top of the table Arsenal will attempt to end their run of three successive draws with an away trip to the Etihad Stadium to take on second place Manchester City in what is, essentially, a Premier League title decider.
As you would expect for such a huge game, betting interest on the match is huge and bet365 Sport is offering extensive pre-match betting on the game, as well as extensive In Play action once the match is underway.
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So before we set the scene for Wednesday night’s huge game, let’s first recap on the action from this weekend and how that leaves the current Premier League table ahead of this set of midweek games.
FA Cup Semi Finals
Manchester City 3-0 Sheffield United (Mahrez 43(p),61,66)
Brighton 0-0 Manchester United (Man Utd won 7-6 on penalties)
Arsenal 3-3 Southampton (Martinelli 20, Odegaard 88, Saka 90), (Alcaraz 1, Walcott 14, Caleta-Car 66)
Fulham 2-1 Leeds United (Wilson 58, Pereira 72), (Palhinha 79 og)
Crystal Palace 0-0 Everton
Liverpool 3-2 Nottingham Forest (Jota 47,55, Salah 70), (Williams 51, Gibbs-White 67)
Brentford 1-1 Aston Villa (Toney 65), (Douglas Luiz 87)
Leicester City 2-1 Wolves (Ihenacho 37(p), Castagne 75), (Cunha 13)
Newcastle Utd 6-1 Tottenham (Murphy 2,9, Joelinton 6, Isak 19,21, Wilson 67), (Kane 49)
Bournemouth 0-4 West Ham (Antonio 5, Paqueta 12, Rice 43, Fornals 72)
Premier League Standings
After those games, the latest Premier League table reveals that Arsenal could only extend their lead to five points over Manchester City, with the Citizens now having two games in hand over the Gunners in the race for top spot.
Newcastle’s massive win over Spurs cemented their place in the top four, moving them six points ahead of Spurs in fifth and above Man Utd on goal difference into third.
Aston Villa remain sixth two points behind Spurs having both played 32 games, while Liverpool have a game in hand and lie 7th on 50 points while Brighton have two games in hand on Liverpool and three on Spurs and Aston Villa as they lie 8th on 49 points.
West Ham and Leicester were the big movers at the bottom of the table, with the Hammers 4-0 win at Brentford seeing them jump to 13th in the table, six points clear of the relegation zone, while Leicester’s crucial 2-1 win over Wolves moved them out of the relegation one on goal difference, dropping Everton into that final relegation spot.
All the teams in the bottom half, bar West Ham and Chelsea (31), have played 32 games.
All of which sets up Wednesday night’s title decider at the Etihad perfectly.
Manchester City v Arsenal Preview
With Arsenal drawing at home to Southampton that means that the Gunners have had an unwelcome slip in form over their last three games, drawing all three and dropping six vital points in the title race.
In that time Manchester City have moved into the Champions League semi-finals, reached the FA Cup Final and have also closed the gap on Arsenal to five points and the Citizens now have two games in hand, meaning if they win both, they will go ahead of Arsenal by a point.
It is that which makes this game a potential title decider as a win for the home side here would close the gap to just two points, with City having two games in hand, meaning they could open up a four-point gap on Arsenal should they win both of those additional games.
However, a win for Arsenal would mean the Gunners move eight points ahead of City and would mean that even if City win their two games in hand, the Gunners would have a two-point lead over City heading into the final five games of the season.
Given the different scenarios, it is abundantly clear that this game will likely determine the outcome of the title race, so let’s review both teams competing in it, starting with the remaining fixtures for each team.
All remaining fixtures for both teams are shown below with games not in the Premier League shown in italics.
Wed 26th Apr – (H) v Arsenal
Sun 30th Apr – (A) v Fulham
Wed 3rd May – (H) v West Ham United
Sat 6th May – (H) v Leeds United
Tue 9th May – (A) v Real Madrid (Champions League Semi Final 1st Leg)
Sun 14th May – (A) v Everton
Wed 17th May – (H) v Real Madrid (Champions League Semi Final 2nd Leg)
Sun 21st May – (H) v Chelsea
Wed 24th May – (A) v Brighton
Sun 28th May – (A) v Brentford
Sat 3rd Jun – (N) v Manchester United (FA Cup Final)
Sat 10th Jun – (N) – Potential Champions League Final
Wed 26th Apr – (A) v Manchester City
Tue 2nd May – (H) v Chelsea
Sun 7th May – (A) v Newcastle United
Sun 14th May – (H) v Brighton
Sat 20th May – (A) v Nottingham Forest
Sun 28th May – (H) v Wolves
While Manchester City have the easier run in in terms of Premier League opponents, with their cup commitments, they could play a maximum of 12 and will play a minimum of 11 games over the rest of this season, which is double (or almost) the number Arsenal will play.
While Arsenal have fewer games to play over the period, they do have much tougher games notably Newcastle United away, as well as Manchester City away plus tricky home games with Chelsea and Brighton.
City’s most difficult EPL games come at the end of the season with games against Chelsea, Brentford and Brighton being their most difficult fixtures, aside from the Arsenal game.
Manchester City v Arsenal Team News
The big news for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City is that Nathan Ake, who has been a regular in defence at either full-back or centre back this season, will miss out through a thigh injury.
However, Phil Foden returned to the bench at the weekend and he will be available for selection following their FA Cup Semi Final win over Sheffield United.
Other than Ake, Guardiola will have a full-strength Manchester City squad to pick from for this game.
Manchester City Predicted XI – (4-3-3)
GK – Ederson
DR – Walker
DL – Akanji
DC – Ruben Dias
DC – Stones
DMC – Rodri
MC – Gundogan
MC – De Bruyne
AMR – Mahrez
AML – Grealish
AC – Haaland
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta will be without Mohamed Elneny, William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu for the game with Manchester City, but Granit Xhaka should be fit again to return after missing the Southampton game through illness.
Oleksandr Zinchenko returned to the Arsenal team against Southampton and it will be interesting to see if Arteta sticks with Fabio Vieira in midfield or turns to recent signing Jorginho, or the fit again Xhaka for added experience against the City trio.
Rob Holding will likely continue in central defence for the visitors in Saliba’s absence.
Arsenal Predicted XI – (4-3-3)
GK – Ramsdale
DR – White
DL – Zinchenko
DC – Holding
DC – Gabriel
DMC – Thomas Partey
DMC – Xhaka
MC – Odegaard
AML – Martinelli
AMR – Saka
AC – Gabriel Jesus
Head To Head Record
Played – 207
Man City Wins – 64
Draws – 45
Arsenal Wins – 98
Manchester City have won 14 of the last 15 games against Arsenal, losing just the once in the 2020 FA Cup Semi Final.
City have not lost to Arsenal in the Premier League since December 2015 drawing two and winning 12 of the 14 Premier League games since then.
Arsenal’s last win at the Etihad came in January 2015 when the were 0-2 victors over City.
The Gunners have drawn all their last three games, conceding seven goals across the trio of matches.
Both teams have scored in 8 of the last 9 games that Arsenal have played.
Manchester City have gone 17 games unbeaten since losing 1-0 to Tottenham back on the 5th February, that run includes games in all competitions and a 3-1 win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on the 15th February.
City have scored three or more goals in seven of their last eight games, In those eight games they have scored 31 goals conceding just four.
Man City v Arsenal Betting Tips
Sorry Arsenal fans, but every piece of evidence I can find points only to a Manchester City win. They have better form, a deeper squad, fewer injuries, home advantage and a fantastic historical record over the Gunners.
Add to that City’s experience in these types of run ins for the Premier League title and it is hard not to back against them here and my top tips for the game are shown below.
Manchester City to win and both teams to score – 2/1
Manchester City to win 3-1 – 12/1
Erling Haaland (Man City) to score first – 9/4
Tune in from 8pm on Wednesday night to catch all the action in this potential Premier League decider.