Eastlands for Easter: Arsenal head north for crucial title-decider

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Another international break successfully navigated means the Premier League action resumes this weekend, and what a cracker there is in store during the Easter break. A full program of the EFL kicks things off nicely on Good Friday and acts as the perfect segway into Saturday, where the top-flight plays out eight mouthwatering ties, including some tantalising battles at the bottom with Bournemouth taking on Everton and Nottingham Forest clashing with Crystal Palace. 

While both of those games will play a heavy hand in sculpting the landscape at the wrong end of the table, there is no question about what is Gameweek 30’s standout feature. At the top end of the division, two of the league’s most in-form and exciting sides go head to head in a match which could well decide who wins the title this season. 

Arsenal travel north to take on Manchester City looking for a repeat result of the reverse fixture back in October, where the Gunners snatched a late winner and claimed all three points during an exhilarating battle at the Emirates. Mikel Arteta’s men currently lie top of the Premier League on goal difference but are level on points with second-placed Liverpool and just a single point in front of City after 28 games, making this weekend’s fixture all the more exciting. 

With eight straight wins under their belt in the league, momentum is firmly with the Gunners but in Manchester City they face a totally different beast; one where recent form becomes defunct due to the pure strength of opposition. Pep Guardiola’s men have lost just three of their 28 league matches this term and have not tasted defeat in any competition since the start of December – as many as 22 games ago. Frightening. 

There is a mutual respect between both Spaniards occupying each dugout in this one. Arteta cut his teeth in the managerial game learning from Guardiola at City before taking the top job at Arsenal and has never been unbecoming in admitting just how much he learnt from his fellow countryman. On the other side of the coin, Guardiola has witnessed Arteta blossom into one of the most highly regarded head coaches in world football and has lost twice to him now this season – once in the Community Shield final and then domestically back in Autumn. Admirable, to say the least. 

Those two results have led to a feeling that this Arsenal side are no longer the inferior younger brother courageously – but unsuccessfully – pitting their wits against the domineering, bullish older sibling in City. Momentum between these two teams has shifted in recent meetings, though the true test will be if Arsenal can repeat their recent successes in Manchester – with those two previous wins both coming in London, first at Wembley and secondly in the comfort and solace of their own backyard. 

Arsenal’s last win at the Etihad was almost a decade ago when they overcame City 2-0 and it is somewhat difficult to envisage their luck changing on Sunday given how mesmeric City have been throughout recent months. 

A win here for the hosts would see them leapfrog the Gunners by two points with just eight games left to play, blowing a hole straight through the core of this season’s breathtaking title race. Whether or not it would be enough for them to go top remains to be seen, with a win for Liverpool over Brighton enough for the Reds to move to the summit should Arsenal depart the Etihad as the defeated party. 

Victory for the north Londoners would make it extremely difficult for City to retain their crown, however, and the psychological advantage it would provide them would be invaluable. A draw here would suit Liverpool more than any in the top three as we submerge ourselves into the season’s home straight. 

All to play for, then, ahead of another show-stopping weekend of Premier League pandemonium.

Premier League Gameweek 30 – Fixtures in full


Newcastle United 12:30 West Ham United

AFC Bournemouth 15:00 Everton

Chelsea 15:00 Burnley

Nottingham Forest 15:00 Crystal Palace

Sheffield United 15:00 Fulham

Tottenham Hotspur 15:00 Luton Town

Aston Villa 17:30 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Brentford 20:00 Manchester United


Liverpool 14:00 Brighton & Hove Albion

Manchester City 16:30 Arsenal

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