Arsenal defied all the odds in the Champions League in Greece with a magnificent hat trick from Olivier Giroud confirming Arsenal's place in the 2nd round of the Champions League. However, their fears were confirmed as they were paired against the Champions League holders, Barcelona. They've been made to pay the price for finishing 2nd in their respective group behind Bayern Munich and must now face the Spanish treble winners of last year over 2 legs in February.
Arsenal have accumulated the most points in 2015 and extended their impressive year with a convincing 2-0 victory away at struggling Aston Villa. Giroud continued his good form with a early penalty before Mesut Ozil provided his 13th assist of the season for Aaron Ramsey with a stunning counter attacking goal. It is also worth mentioning that the heroics in Greece and Sunday's win over Aston Villa were all done without the massive influence of Alexis Sanchez who has been suffering from a hamstring injury and may not be risked over the Christmas period with such a heavy backlog of fixtures.
Manchester City meanwhile struck it very close in Saturday's 2-1 victory over managerless Swansea City. City made the breakthrough in the first half when former Swansea forward, Wilfried Bony scored but the visitors thought they had nicked a point late on with Bafetimbi Gomis ending his goal scoring drought in injury time. Yaya Toure had other ideas though as City went straight at the other end and got what could prove a very important winner. It was a crucial win for City as it meant they stayed 1 point behind Arsenal in 2nd place but they could drop down the table if Leicester City manage to get any form of result against Chelsea. Manuel Pellegrini would've been disappointed in his sides inability to keep a clean sheet as they haven't done so since the 0-0 draw with Aston Villa just over a month ago. His defence has drawn a lot of criticism in the absence of Vincent Kompany and it was a chance for his replacements to show that they are more than capable of filling in for their skipper.
City's away form has been abysmal of late as they've scored in just 1 of their 5 matches on the road. They've fired blanks against Manchester United, Aston Villa, Juventus and Stoke City. Arsenal haven't lost since the opening day of the season home defeat to West Ham at the Emirates in the league. Mesut Ozil added another assist to his name against Aston Villa and he is now 7 clear of Everton's Gerard Deulofeu in 2nd. Arsenal are unbeaten against City in the previous 4 meetings which has shown good character considering the defeat was the memorable 6-3 defeat at the Etihad Stadium. Man City have scored just 7 times in 7 away league games this season.
Arsenal have welcomed back a number of faces in the past couple of weeks but are still without Alexis Sanchez, Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta ahead of the visit from Manchester City. Sanchez is the closest to returning as he returned to Chile in a bid to recover from his hamstring injury quicker but the City game could prove too soon. City meanwhile are set to be without Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany for another week. Pablo Zabaleta could return for Pellegrini but Bakary Sagna has filled in well and will be eager to keep his spot against his former employers. One man who won't be playing against his previous club is Samir Nasri who will miss the majority of the campaign with a hamstring injury.
Stats: W-10 L-3 D-3
Recent Form - WDWWW
Stats: W-10 L-4 D-2
Recent Form - WWLWW
Arsenal (4-2-3-1) - Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Ramsey, Ozil, Flamini, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud
Manchester City (4-2-3-1) - Hart, Sagna, Otamendi, Mangala, Kolarov, Yaya Toure, Delph, De Bruyne, Sterling, Silva, Bony
Injury List/Suspended Players
Arsenal - Coquelin (inj), Sanchez (inj), Welbeck (inj), Rosicky (inj), Wilshere (inj), Santi Cazorla (inj)
Manchester City - Aguero (inj), Kompany (inj), Nasri (inj), Fernandinho (inj)