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Manchester City vs Arsenal: Projected lineups, tactical analysis

Theo Walcott spoke with Joe Prince-Wright following Southampton's draw at the Emirates, discussing the many positives for Saints and backing former club Arsenal to beat Man City next week and win the Premier League.

Manchester City vs Arsenal is the epic title showdown we have all been waiting for.

Bring. It. On.

The Premier League’s top two teams clash at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, April 26 and the winner seems highly likely to win the title for the 2022-23 season.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Will Pep Guardiola once again do something special for a big game and tweak his much-tweaked tactics? Or will it be Mikel Arteta, the apprentice and Pep’s former assistant, who gets the better of his master for just the second time in 10 attempts?

Here’s a look at the Manchester City vs Arsenal projected lineups and tactical analysis.

Manchester City lineup - Projected (3-2-4-1 formation)

----- Ederson -----

---- Akanji ---- Dias ---- Laporte ----

---- Stones ---- Rodri ----

---- Mahrez ---- Gundogan ---- De Bruyne ---- Grealish ----

----- Haaland -----

Arsenal lineup - Projected (4-2-3-1 formation)

----- Ramsdale -----

--- Nelson --- White --- Gabriel --- Zinchenko ---

---- Xhaka ---- Jorginho ----

---- Saka ---- Odegaard ---- Martinelli ----

----- Jesus -----

Manchester City tactics

Look, who the heck knows what Guardiola is going to do? Especially for these big games. He has previous of throwing in a major tactical tweak for key games. The 2020-21 UEFA Champions League final, anyone? Still, it seems like the 3-2-4-1 formation is working so well and John Stones as a hybrid central midfield/right back has been a bit of a game-changer.

With Nathan Ake out injured, does Pep go back to a flat back four? Or does Aymeric Laporte slot in as the left-sided center back in a three? The latter seems most likely as City have looked so balanced in this fairly new formation. Rodri and the five players ahead of him pick themselves right now, while Bernardo Silva is likely to be the spark off the bench once again. With just one injury to their squad, we can now clearly see that the strength of this City squad is ridiculous.

Arsenal tactics

It is probably Mikel Arteta who is most likely to be contemplating a big change in system or personnel for this game. With William Saliba out, Arsenal’s defense has been all over the place in recent games and they’ve conceded seven times across their three-straight draws. Will Arteta totally go away from the 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 which has brought them so much success this season? He could play Zinchenko as a left-sided center back and bring Kieran Tierney in at left wing-back and Bukayo Saka at right wing-back in a 3-4-3, but that is unlikely. Arsenal have been so good sticking to their formation and principles all season long but recent defensive displays means something has to change.

And it seems like Arteta is ready to make a few changes and at this point, so why not play Ben White and Gabriel at center back? Reiss Nelson could come in at right back and offer an attacking threat, (heck, even Leandro Trossard can play there) while the other problem area is in midfield. Thomas Partey has struggled in recent weeks and it would be no surprise to see Jorginho start to bring some control and calmness to central midfield. If Granit Xhaka is back, as expected, then he should start too. It will also be tempting for Arteta to start with January signing Trossard in attack but how can you break up the attacking quartet of Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli? Creating chances and scoring goals has not been Arsenal’s problem. The last few games have proved that in midfield and defense they need more balance.

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