Manchester City take on Arsenal on Sunday with both sides knowing they they cannot afford to lose in the race to catch Chelsea.
Man City’s win against Watord in midweek was just their fifth in 16 games in all competitions, while Arsenal’s great run came to a juddering halt with a 2-1 defeat at Everton.
Pep Guardiola’s side sit one point behind Arsene Wenger’s in the table, but if Chelsea beat Crystal Palace on Saturday, the gap at the top will be extended for one (if not both) of these teams by close of business on Sunday.
City as a collective have been faltering somewhat since September, but how do the individual stats of their players compare against Sunday’s opponents?
Manchester City/Arsenal XI Based On This Season’s Statistics:
Petr Cech (Arsenal)
Interestingly, Whoscored have given Man City’s Claudio Bravo a higher rating than Cech (6.9 to 6.7) but the difference in Squawka’s season score was so pronounced (80 to -11.) that there was only one winner.
Cech has been his usual solid self, benefiting from having a solid defence in front of him, while Bravo has been the human embodiment of nervousness since joining from Barcelona in the summer.
Right-Back: Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal)
Centre-Back: Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)
Centre-Back: Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City)
Left-Back: Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City)
Every available metric had Bellerín ahead of Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna, though as was the case with the goalkeepers, the Whoscored ratings were a lot tighter. Indeed, Bellerín was strongly linked with a move to Man City earlier this season before ultimately signing a new deal at Arsenal.
At centre-back, Koscielny has been one of the best defenders in the league this season and it is no surprise that his would be the very first name in the back four. However, his his partner in the centre is bound to be a talking point. Shkodran Mustafi has barely put a foot wrong since joining Arsenal in a £35m deal in the summer (as a Whoscored rating of 7.3 and Squawka score of 309 can attest to), but statistically Otamendi of Man City has been the better player (7.59 and 330 respectively).
On the left, Kolarov (7.15 and 269) edges out Nacho Monreal (7 and 218). The Serbian international has become a favourite of Guardiola’s, often operating out of the centre, and has been one of the few generally solid components of a shaky Man City defence.
Centre-Midfield: Francis Coquelin (Arsenal)
Centre-Midfield: David Silva (Manchester City)
In many ways Ilkay Gundogan was incredibly unlucky to pick up the injury when he did – not just for the fact that it has ruled him out for the rest of the season, but it has deprived them of a player who was on course to be the best-performing central midfielder out of either of these two sides.
Francis Coquelin (7.1 and 237) has kept his place in the face of competition from £30m summer signing Granit Xhaka. The Frenchman has become an important player for Arsenal, even more so now in the face of Santi Cazorla’s injury.
David Silva, meanwhile, has generally been played in a more withdrawn role than he has been used to, but it has been a role that has suited him. The Spanish international’s passing accuracy is as high as it has ever been and his ability to find space and create chances is right up there with the best players in the league.
Attacking Midfielder/Number Ten: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
This was arguably the strongest section of the pitch. Mesut Özil and Kevin De Bruyne are two of the best players in the league, and both scored high in the two websites’ metrics.
However, De Bruyne (7.54 and 481) scored higher than the Arsenal man (7.25 and 427) in both. While Özil has had a tendency to have his periods of form in fits and bursts (though his goalscoring has definitely improved), De Bruyne has been consistently brilliant for Man City throughout the campaign.
In almost any other combined eleven, Özil would have been included – but De Bruyne has simply been outstanding.
Right Wing: Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
Left Wing: Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal)
Striker: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Theo Walcott has been a player reborn this season, hitting some fine goalscoring form and linking up with his teammates to an even greater degree. His stats (7.38 and 367) are ahead, in a reasonably big difference, of the highest challenger in the form of Man City’s Raheem Sterling (7.32 and 250)
On the left, and this may be slightly cheating somewhat considering the position he’s in here, is Alexis Sánchez. The Chilean international has been used as a centre-forward to devastating effect by Wenger this season, and right now is a contender for Player of the Year even at this early stage.
Up front, Sergio Aguero has been his usual devastating self for Man City. The Argentine international has scored ten goals in eleven starts and will be a hugely important factor in the side’s Premier League title challenge.
Read More About: aleksandar kolarov, Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal, david silva, fernaidinho, Francis Coquelin, Hector Bellerin, kevin de bruyne, laurent koscielny, Man City, mesut ozil, nicolas otamendi, petr cech, Premier League, sergio aguero, theo walcott