Manchester City had risen from being a ‘noisy neighbour’ to become a force to be recon with in English football. With the Carabao Cup already in the kitty, a FA quarter final berth and one leg into last 16 of the Champion League, the Citizens would be buoyed heading to Old Trafford, a venue Pep Guardiola had recorded significant success since taking charge at the Emirate Stadium. However, the Reds too would be boosted by their last two victories at the Emirate, but will be under significant pressure to book a top-four ticket
Manchester rivals United and City face off for the fourth time this season with Pep Guardiola’s City making the short trip to Old Trafford on Sunday.
Manchester United have beaten City twice already this season, and both times as the underdogs. They will go into this match as the outsiders, but can they get their first win against City this season in front of their own fans?
The race for a Champions League finish is well and truly underway with five sides vying for fourth spot. Manchester United have put a good run together and are unbeaten in four league games.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now finds his side in fifth, only three points behind Chelsea in fifth. If Frank Lampard’s side are beaten by Everton in the early kick-off, United could leapfrog them with a win due to superior goal difference.
Manchester City picked up their first silverware of the season by lifting the Carabao Cup on Sunday. They came out eventual winners against Aston Villa with a less than convincing 2-1 victory. City were not at their best, but as with all great teams, they found a way to win.
Pep’s side have lost six league games this season which is the same number of the last two seasons combined. They aren’t at the same level they have been for the last couple of seasons, but the bar was exceptionally high. They are the league’s top scorers and they will expect to get a result on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Arsenal play host to West Ham United at the Emirates this afternoon in a battle between two sides needing three points for entirely different reasons. The Gunners go into the weekend’s clash five points off fifth-placed Manchester United, while West Ham are only above the relegation zone on goal difference.
Indeed, the North London outfit are unbeaten in the Premier League since the New Year, and have won four out of their last five matches in all competitions.
Monday’s 2-0 victory over Portsmouth in the FA Cup fifth round keeps Arteta’s hopes of a trophy in his maiden season alive, a win which was much needed following the manner of their defeat to Olympiacos in the Europa League round of 32.
Having reached the semi-finals of the Europa League in the 2017-18 campaign, and finishing runners up to Chelsea last year, many Arsenal fans believed that a European trophy and a route back to Champions League football could have been on the horizon for their side this season.
Nevertheless, Arsenal’s league form has much improved since Arteta replaced fellow Spaniard Unai Emery, and the Gunners now sit eight points off the top four on 37 points.
Arteta has already seen his side keep six clean sheets in all competitions since his arrival, with the centre-back partnership of Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz garnering significant praise for their performances in recent weeks.
A third consecutive league victory could see Arsenal rise to eighth in the table, potentially leapfrogging arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the process should Burnley pick up all three points against Jose Mourinho’s side today.
In contrast, West Ham’s 3-1 victory over Southampton was their first league win since New Year’s Day, and David Moyes’s side are at a real risk of a first relegation since 2011 should results not improve.
As protests against the ownership of the club continue to bedevil the Londoners, Hammers supporters will be desperate to see their side pick up only their fourth win away from home all season.
Moyes’ men performed valiantly for the most part at Anfield last Monday, but eventually made the trip back down to London empty-handed following a result which has more or less epitomised their season.
However, last weekend’s triumph against Southampton has brought some much-needed relief to the London Stadium, as goals from Jarrod Bowen, Sebastien Haller and Michail Antonio comfortably saw off Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.
The arrival of Bowen in particular has brought with it a strong sense of optimism over the former Hull City attacker, and fans will be eager to see what the 23-year-old can bring to the table in their fight for survival over the coming weeks.
With games against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea coming up after their Emirates visit, West Ham are no doubt in a perilous position as the relegation battle reaches a crucial point.
The Hammers have conceded nine goals in their last three league games away from home, albeit to top-four sides Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester City, and have also suffered defeats at Sheffield United and Crystal Palace since the New Year.
Nevertheless, should Moyes manage to shore up his defence in a similar way to that of Arteta at Arsenal, Hammers supporters may just be able to look forward to another Premier League campaign next season.