Manchester City and Arsenal kick off another busy weekend of Premier League action with a crucial clash. Although there's plenty of football left to play, these high-profile matches featuring title hopefuls tend to have a lasting impact on the championship chase.
City are coming off a thrilling comeback victory over Bayern Munich in Champions League play. After falling behind 2-0 inside the first 15 minutes, the Sky Blues scored three straight against the powerhouse German club to earn the win. The confidence boost certainly comes at a good time.
Arsenal weren't as fortunate in their midweek UCL match, a 2-0 loss to Napoli. The Gunners controlled the match for stretches but failed to generate scoring chances. They will need a far more complete performance to secure a positive result on the road against City.
With that in mind, let's check out all of the important information for the weekend's marquee Premier League fixture, followed by some analysis and a match prediction.
Where: Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England
When: Saturday, Dec. 14 at 7:45 a.m. ET (12:45 p.m. GMT)
Watch: NBC Sports Network and BT Sport 1
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Match Forecast (via Bloomberg Sports)
Manchester City: 51.8 percent
Arsenal: 24.8 percent
Draw: 23.4 percent
Top Storyline: Can City defend home field and earn three key points?
City have played outstanding at home during the early part of the campaign. They have won all seven league matches at Etihad Stadium with an amazing 29-2 goal differential. It illustrates the type of challenge Arsenal will face while trying to maintain or increase their league lead.
After a 6-0 romp over Tottenham a few weeks ago, the BBC passed along comments from City midfielder Samir Nasri, who talked about how the club always seems to respond at home against top opponents:
It was really good. We showed against a big squad that we always respond at home. You don't see 6-0 that often but we've maintained our good form at home. For me, all the goals were really nice; it's difficult to pick one. I'm not just happy about the performance, the goals and the way we played, but the clean sheet as well.
The Sky Blues will need to maintain that type of form to emerge from the clash with Arsenal with all three points. The Gunners aren't slouches on the road, with just one loss in seven road fixtures in league play and just five goals allowed in those games.
City should have a fresh reminder from the Bayern match about what it takes to win these type of matches. They were completely overmatched after coming out sluggish and with a conservative game plan. But once they fell behind 2-0, they opened things up and mounted a terrific comeback.
They must bring that same type of attacking attitude against Arsenal. The number of touches Sergio Aguero gets inside the first quarter-hour will be a good indication of which way the match is trending.
As for Arsenal, the onus is on Laurent Koscielny and the rest of the back line to survive that initial surge from City. If they do, the door will open up for a draw or even potentially a victory, which would be huge for their title hopes.
Arsenal deserve a lot of credit for building a five-point edge before the halfway point of the campaign. But last week's home draw with Everton and the loss to Napoli raise questions about whether the Gunners' form is starting to slip.
That doesn't bode well heading into Etihad Stadium. City understand this is one of the matches that can be a turning point in the campaign. They should put together a strong performance and emerge with a narrow victory to tighten the race atop the table.
Manchester City 2, Arsenal 1
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