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Arsenal set for another Man City spanking

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Arsenal's quest for domestic silverware was crushed by a dismal 3-0 defeat to Manchester City in the League Cup final and lingering hopes of a top-four finish could be extinguished by the same opponents, who look solid odds-on favourites to defeat the Gunners for a second time in five days.

The gap between Arsenal and the top four has lengthened to ten points, as wide as it has been all season, and only a victory over City would give them realistic hope of putting pressure on the teams above them.

However, it is hard to see how a struggling Arsenal side can find the answers against arguably the best team in Premier League history.

City were nowhere near their scintillating best at Wembley on Sunday yet they cruised to victory over an Arsenal side who barely laid a glove on them.

Pep Guardiola has a few injury problems with Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling nursing hamstring strains and may decide to make a few changes with Sunday's clash at home to Chelsea in mind.

However, he is unlikely to tolerate a loss of focus and will demand the same high standards which his team have been reaching for the majority of the season.

City have dropped points in just four of their 27 league games and need just six wins from their remaining 11 fixtures to guarantee first place.

Arsenal's minimum target is to produce a better performance and restore some hope and pride to their suffering supporters, who were so dismayed by the abject surrender at the national stadium.

But it is doubtful whether they possess the quality to secure the win they need to keep a top-four challenge on the agenda.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan's availability is a positive for them but the Armenian was largely anonymous in his last Premier League outing, lasting just 63 minutes in the 1-0 loss at Tottenham.

Regular left-back Nacho Monreal, one of Arsenal's best players this season, misses out with a back injury and there are precious few midfield alternatives to Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka, who were so poor at the weekend.

City were forced into a tactical adjustment in the League Cup final when Fernandinho hobbled off, but Kevin De Bruyne seamlessly slotted into a more central role and, if anything, City improved.

Questions were being asked of the Citizens after their shock 1-0 loss at Wigan in the FA Cup fifth round but, like all top sides, they responded in emphatic style.

Guardiola wants them to wrap up the title as soon as possible, paving the way for an all out assault on the Champions League, and he should get the three points he craves in north London.

Manchester City

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Match in Focus


Holland v England

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • England have kept four clean sheets in a row and five in their last six
Expert verdict
This is Ronald Koeman’s first game in charge of the Oranje and, as well as saying farewell to the likes of Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder and ignoring the claims of Daley Blind and Robin van Persie, he’s brought in five new faces. England have been defensively very good in recent internationals, with clean sheets against world champions Germany and Brazil, and are un likely to be beaten.