With the champions short of midfield options, Sunday’s game is an opportunity for Mikel Arteta’s side to turn the tables

It was not without a few strokes of luck that Arsenal edged past Manchester City in December 2015, clinging on at the end for a 2-1 win to send their supporters home dreaming of the title over Christmas. Mikel Arteta, deep into the injury-hit winter of his playing career, watched his teammates contentedly enough from the side and a breeze of change swirled around the visiting camp. The previous day Pep Guardiola had confirmed his departure from Bayern Munich and the process to install him at the Etihad Stadium was, in reality, well down the track.

Given Arsenal have not beaten City in their 15 top-flight meetings since, taking a sole early point from their encounters with Guardiola, the symbolism is clear. Ending their two-decade wait for the domestic crown will surely require putting a stop to that run and leaping the one hurdle that, during their rebirth under Arteta, has proved impossible to clear. What would he have thought, watching Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud decide matters against Manuel Pellegrini’s side almost eight years ago, if someone had told him of the hex that would soon be cast?

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