City too slick for sloppy Gunners

  • By: Ben Coley
  • Last Updated: January 13 2013, 13:28 GMT

Our Ben Coley previews Sunday's action in the Barclays Premier League and fancies Man City to take all three points at Arsenal.

Robin van Persie and co should take all the beating
Robin van Persie and co should take all the beating

Manchester United welcome Liverpool in what's always one of the most eagerly-awaited fixtures of the season, and we strongly fancy a home win. United have a phenomenal record in the fixture and are quite simply a far superior side at present.

Manchester City's record at Arsenal is far less impressive but, unlike recent visits, this is a game which they surely have to win and the right approach could see them heap more pressure on Arsene Wenger and his players.

Both games are being televised live in the UK on Sky Sports on what's truly a Super Sunday.

Manchester United v Liverpool (1330 GMT)

If you can have 10/11 about United at home against any side outside of Man City and Chelsea, you should probably take it, and without hesitation they look the bet here. It's well-documented that Liverpool raise their performance level against their fierce rivals but that hasn't made a difference in the last three renewals of this fixture, each of which has been won by United - indeed, they've won seven of the last eight. Several of those victories have been hard-fought, the odd one undeserved, but ultimately they've got the job done and that's what matters most. Some will point to their 3-2 defeat to Spurs at Old Trafford as evidence that United are fallible and I wouldn't disagree, but they've still won the other nine home Premier League games. Liverpool, meanwhile, are 21 points behind United after 21 games. Away from home they have been hard to beat and draws at Chelsea, Everton and Swansea read well, but this is a different kettle of fish. Yes, they're in good form having won their last three and, yes, Luis Suarez will pose a massive threat to a troubled United defence (albeit he has just one consolation goal in four starts v United), but time and time again the champions-elect have produced the goods this season and while a case can be made for this being close, 10/11 is plainly too big in my eyes. As for the concerns around Wayne Rooney's absence, it's worth noting that he missed United's victory in the reverse fixture and Robin van Persie is now the main man - he's scored the winner in his last two games against Liverpool and five in his last six league games against them. United have won eight of their last nine in the league and have raised their own performances for the big games - see wins at City, Chelsea and that one at Anfield - and as far as I'm concerned at 10/11 they're a maximum football bet.

Verdict: Manchester United 2 Liverpool 1

Arsenal v Manchester City (1600)

Bookmakers can't split these two and on the face of it that's easy to understand, with City having failed to register a goal at the Emirates since April 2007 and Arsenal having improved to a degree of late. However, at the prices there's no doubt in my mind that City are worth chancing as they're a vastly superior side to Arsenal. No Champions League to play for and no Europa League as consolation, City need to close the gap on United in the league and if, as expected, their rivals beat Liverpool in the earlier game, surely Roberto Mancini will have to throw everything at three points here. If that is the case, his side have the tools to take apart an Arsenal side whose confidence remains on a knife-edge and whose defending is a massive problem. Swansea were gifted two goals in the cup last weekend and they're not alone in having been helped along the way by Arsene Wenger's side this season. It must be noted that Arsenal have only lost to the Swans and Chelsea at home in the league but their greatest tests await and I couldn't back a repeat of last year's game, when City played for a point and got nothing thanks to a late Mikel Arteta strike. City have rediscovered their scoring touch of late with 10 goals in three games and they've only lost once on their travels, when getting the ball in the net was their problem at Sunderland in a game they should've won. Providing Mancini goes for the jugular, expect City to keep tabs on United by dealing another bitter blow to Arsenal's top-four hopes.

Verdict: Arsenal 1 Manchester City 2

  • Preview posted at 1920 GMT on 10/01/2013.