Unbeaten Manchester City’s season shows no sign of losing momentum with 15 wins from 16 in all competitions after Wednesday’s 4-2 Champions League victory at Napoli.
City have not lost a competitive match anywhere since April, but that defeat came in the FA Cup semi-finals against Arsenal, the team who visit the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League on Sunday.
Manager Pep Guardiola has said he sees no possibility of City emulating the achievement of Arsenal’s ‘The Invincibles’ of 2003-04, by going through an entire Premier League season unbeaten
“Apart from the defeat at Watford, Arsenal have won a lot of games,” said Guardiola.
“It’s complicated for us. We hope we can recover well after the travel and the game in Naples.
“It’s so tough when you have the Champions League to consider.
“Arsenal played without their real squad on Thursday (Europa League group game against Red Star Belgrade), so they have effectively rested for one week. We will lack energy, so our fans will be important.”
City have scored 35 goals and conceded just six in their 10 league games so far, winning at Chelsea and thrashing Liverpool 5-0 in the process, leaving many rival managers wondering how they might be stopped.
Among the players to have impressed this season is Raheem Sterling, the winger who Arsenal wanted to sign in August, and who might have been allowed to leave had City’s attempt to sign Alexis Sanchez been successful.
Sterling has not been a prolific scorer during his short career, but has seven Premier League goals already this season, a total that only Tottenham’s Harry Kane can better so far.
The winger has another three goals in the Champions League to go with that, including one during Wednesday’s win.
– ‘gamble and the risk’ –
Also among the goals in midweek was Sergio Aguero, who finally became the club’s all-time record scorer with his 178th for City.
The Argentina international, who had looked apprehensive as he got close to the record, should now enjoy the opportunity to relax in front of goal a little more.
Arsene Wenger has been encouraged by Arsenal side’s recent run of form that had seen them recover to win their previous three games before Thursday’s scoreless Europa League draw.
The visit to the Etihad Stadium, however, presents an altogether more demanding test and the Gunners manager knows his side must improve their awful record at the homes of the Premier League’s leading teams if they are to be considered title contenders.
The north London club last won at one of the established top six when they beat City in January 2015 and since then they have picked up just six points from a possible 42 in 14 away trips.
“We will try to play our game. We will not hide,” said Wenger.
“When we go there, we want to defend well — but as well, you cannot go there and be focused on only defending.
“We want as well to play, have the ball and create dangerous situations. The best way to defend sometimes is to attack.
“If you want to play football, when you walk out on the pitch you have to accept the gamble and the risk. It is part of the game.
“After, you have to rate the risk. Is it a bigger risk only to defend than to attack if a team is very strong to attack? Maybe it is a bigger risk only to defend.”