Japanese right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu has returned from illness to take his place in Arsenal‘s starting eleven for the crunch New Year’s Day clash against Manchester City at the Emirates on Saturday. The 23-year-old’s return is the only change for the Gunners from the side that beat Norwich City 5-0 at Carrow Road on Boxing Day, with Rob Holding dropping back to the bench.
Arsenal will be without manager Mikel Arteta after the Spaniard contracted COVID-19 for the second time on Wednesday. Arteta, who will be watching from home – where he is in isolation – said it will be a “different experience” and that he will “need a big room so that I can walk and move a little bit because I won’t be able to sit on my sofa!”
Meanwhile, league leaders Manchester City are without starlet Phil Foden – who scored the only goal in the 1-0 win over Brentford on Wednesday, is not part of the squad for the encounter. Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez replace Foden and summer signing Jack Grealish, who drops to the bench.
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Midfielder Rodri comes in for Fernandinho in the only other change for City.
Portuguese fullback Joao Cancelo has also been included in the starting line up despite being injured in a robbery attack two days ago.
City begin the new year eight points clear after a run of ten straight wins helped Pep Guardiola‘s side pull away from Chelsea and Liverpool in the title race. All five times a team has started the new year with an eight point lead have gone on to win the league.
Arsenal, who are undefeated in 11 home New Year’s Day games since losing to Tottenham Hotspur in 1985, are looking for a fifth straight league win as Arteta’s turnaround at the Emirates begins to take shape.
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But their record against the Citizens suggests that recent resurgance might be halted. Arsenal have lost 9 consecutive games against City – their longest such streak against a particular club. They have also failed to score in their last five league meetings against today’s opponents.
City have also won their last six games at the Emirates, including four in the Premier League.