While Manchester City don’t immediately spring to mind when you think about Arsenal’s historic rivalries, the Sky Blues have actually be a thorn in Arsene Wenger’s side for almost a decade.
Since Arsenal first faced City back in November 1893 (and won 1-0), the Gunners have gone on to win another 96 times and lose just 50.
In the Premier League, the two teams met 18 times, with Arsenal remaining unbeaten and winning 15 until 2006.
That’s when it all started to go wrong.
In August 2006, Joey Barton scored a penalty against Jens Lehmann in the 41st minute and the visiting Gunners couldn’t come back.
City wouldn’t win again until 2008 after Sheikh Mansour fully took over. Arsenal were thrashed 3-0 with goals from City legends Stephen Ireland, Robinho and Daniel Sturridge.
Since then, Wenger’s side have only won twice at the Etihad and the Blues have put 16 goals past us. They’ve also won the Premier League twice in that time.
There were some tough years where Arsenal couldn’t really afford to turn down money, even if it meant allowing their best players to move to a rival, and City were repeatedly there ready to chuck cash at us. Their fans chanting about how we were their feeder club. Our former players blabbering on about trophies.
Kolo Toure, Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Patrick Vieira and later Bacary Sagna and Mikel Arteta all went to City either to play or coach.
Gooners made their peace with one or two leaving; they’d been excellent servants for Arsenal and just needed one last big contract.
Others, we didn’t.
Nasri, for example, still wouldn’t be able to set foot in the Emirates without being booed.
There was also Wenger’s personal rivalry with Mark Hughes back in 2009, which added a little poison to the growing animosity. The Welshman didn’t like him and the feeling was entirely mutual.
Then there was Roberto Mancini who Wenger branded “out of order” in his public pursuit of Nasri back in 2011.
Now, there’s the Alexis drama, which started over the summer. The Chilean was heavily linked with a move to City but they didn’t actually make a solid offer for him, it seems, until the end of the transfer window. Since then, it’s been widely reported that Pep Guardiola will return for the 28-year-old in January. Or won’t because he’s huffing.
So, how will Arsenal fare against City on Sunday?
City are currently unbeaten in the Premier League this season, Alexis will hopefully feel as if he’s got something to prove and Wenger will be up for wiping the smile off Pep’s face.
…Should be a good match.