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Man City v Arsenal player head-to-heads: Mesut Ozil or Kevin De Bruyne?

Holly Thackeray | 18 December 2016

Man City v Arsenal player head-to-heads

Premier League title hopefuls Arsenal travel to the Etihad on Sunday for a showdown against Manchester City, in a contest between third and fourth, as both elite teams try to keep pace with Chelsea atop the standings.

The Gunners have only a one point cushion after midweek matches, and head into battle at a 21/10 price with Coral for victory, while hosts the Sky Blues are 11/10 favourites.

These two teams suffer from similar defensive deficiencies, but pack plenty of punch in attack. So, Coral writers compare key positions where the game could be won or lost ahead of the clash, with five Man City v Arsenal player head-to-heads…

Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo v Petr Cech

Cech will have to be on top form this weekend.

Cech will have to be on top form this weekend.

Bravo is still adapting to the Premier League, and getting used to filling Joe Hart’s boots – with absence making City fans’ hearts grow fonder in that regard.

With both Arsenal and the Citizens’ shaky rearguards seeing crucial points dropped this campaign, it’s tough to praise either custodian and both boast similar league records.

Bravo has been beaten 16 times in 13 games compared to Cech’s 17 in 16, with three clean sheets to the Czech’s four. But, the Chile keeper can point to Pep Guardiola’s eccentric defensive shake-ups as part of the problem.

Still, we give experienced PL stalwart Cech the nod here, as we know he can pull off the top stops against English opposition.

Full backs: Pablo Zabaleta v Hector Bellerin

Zabaleta is tough to beat for experience,

Zabaleta is tough to beat for experience,

The right back berths in this battle boast better quality than the left hand defensive flank, with Zabaleta and Bellerin two players at the opposite ends of their careers.

Argentine Zabaleta is arguably the better defender, but Bellerin possesses the better engine and looks like becoming one of the best full backs in world football sooner rather than later.

Zabaleta, 31, has featured in just two PL losses this term and scored his first strike of the season midweek, while Bellerin, 21, has featured in the same number of losses with two assists to his name.

It’s neck and neck here, but in this case, with a big game, we’ll opt for sturdy and shrewd Zabaleta this time. Just.

Central defence: John Stones v Laurent Koscielny

Koscielny has been a rock.

Koscielny has been a rock.

This is a much easier comparison to call, between these two PL challengers’ most prominent central defensive fixtures.

Young and exuberant Stones has been called out for costing his side results with sloppy passes and errors threatening to overshadow his promising start to life at the Etihad, in which his technical ability and passing has been praised.

The 22-year-old England star still has huge scope for improvement but has also featured in only three PL shut outs so far this season.

More experienced France international Koscielny is a lot classier at the moment, and appears much happier doing the dirty work as he often binds together the Gunners’ backline. So, he’s our pick.

Attacking midfield: Kevin De Bruyne v Mesut Ozil

De Bruyne v Ozil is a brilliant battle.

De Bruyne v Ozil is a brilliant battle.

Pitting De Bruyne against Ozil isn’t easy and it’s down to personal preference. Two of the best attacking midfield talents in the world will be on show in the English top-flight this weekend.

Astute and elegant Ozil has been a force to be reckoned with, and has provided five goals and three assists in 15 PL outings this term, to quash doubts about end product.

Though, De Bruyne can equally dazzle and arguably is much more dynamic and lethal on the counter-attack. The Belgian boasts two goals and nine assists in the same number of league outings, and wins our vote for his taste for the spectacular.

Forwards: Nolito v Alexis Sanchez

Who gets our vote from Nolito v Sanchez?

Who gets our vote from Nolito v Sanchez?

With Sergio Aguero still suspended, Nolito will likely lead the attack at the Etihad for City and can’t compare with his opposite number’s impact.

The Spaniard has been in and out of the Citizens’ side with four goals and two assists in 13 PL outings, while Sanchez (7/5 to score anytime) has only recently moved from attacking midfield to a leading man role for Arsenal but looks the part.

So, Sanchez’s all-round inspirational performances with 12 strikes plus six assists see him storm this selection – as the Chile talisman really could make the difference on Sunday, with his new position changing the dynamics of the Gunners’ game.

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