Arsenal-Manchester City Preview
By KEVIN CHROUST
(AP) -- Arsenal have been atop the Premier League table for 12 rounds and built a five-point cushion ahead of Liverpool and Chelsea.
They're sure to be more concerned with Manchester City Saturday when they visit the Etihad Stadium, where the Blues are yet to yield a point and have won their last three matches by a combined score of 16-0.
The Gunners (11-2-2) have been the best away club in the Premier League this season, taking 16 points in seven matches while conceding a league-low five goals on opposing pitches.
City (9-2-4), however, have been a different kind of elite at the Etihad with a plus-27 goal differential and five clean sheets in seven home wins.
The match begins Arsenal's toughest two-game stretch so far this season with a Dec. 23 home fixture with Chelsea looming.
"We need to play much better to win at Man City," Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny told the club's official website. "It's two hard games that await us so it will be difficult because they are two of the best teams and we need some points. We are on top of the table so we need to keep this (lead) and December is a very important month in the Premier League. We need to be ready and to fight to win these games."
Koscielny's 82nd-minute goal drew the Gunners even in a 1-1 draw when they last visited the Etihad on Sept. 23, 2012.
Arsenal's 2-0 Champions League loss at Napoli Wednesday was enough to push them through to the knockout phase, though they finished second in their group and now shift their focus back to the league.
"We have a very difficult game on Saturday morning," manager Arsene Wenger said. "We will see what comes out of the draw and will assess that in February because a lot can change on both sides, on us and the team we play against. So we need to put that to the back of our minds now and focus on the Premier League."
City's 3-2 comeback at Bayern Munich has the Blues looking to carry the success back to England. They're fourth in the table with 29 points, six back of Arsenal with an opportunity to halve that deficit.
City fell behind 2-0 against the defending European champions in the 12th minute, but a goal from David Silva and a penalty from Aleksandar Kolarov leveled it before James Milner scored the winner in the 62nd.
"It was a terrible start and we gave away some sloppy goals," Milner said. "But to go to a place like this and go 2-0 down and then come back and win shows the character in this dressing room."
Milner also scored the winner in the last meeting with Arsenal, a 2-0 victory at the Emirates on Jan. 13.
Both clubs are coming off 1-1 draws in their last league matches.
Sergio Aguero scored in City's match Saturday at Southampton and has four goals in his last four top-flight matches.
Arsenal settled for a point after Mesut Ozil gave them the lead in the 80th minute, but they conceded four minutes later. He too has scored in consecutive top-flight matches.
After Wednesday's loss, the Gunners have now gone consecutive matches across all competitions without a win for the first time this season.
Over the last five seasons, it hasn't gotten much more competitive than Man City-Arsenal. The Citizens are 4-3-3 with a 11-9 aggregate scoring advantage against the Gunners since Nov. 22, 2008 and no result has repeated itself in the series in the last five years.
City's 57-match home stretch with at least one goal dating back to Dec. 4, 2010 is the longest active streak in the Premier League. They're 49-5-3 in that time.
Updated December 12, 2013