Who has had the stronger season: Manchester City or Arsenal?

Manchester City Etihad

Arsenal travel to Manchester City on Saturday but who has had the stronger season of the two so far?

It is almost time - the Premier League crunch clash fans have been waiting for for weeks is nearly here.

That's right: league leaders Arsenal travel to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to face free-scoring Manchester City - and the importance of the occasion cannot be understated.

Six points separate the two sides in the league, while both have qualified from their respective Champions League groups.

But who has had the stronger season so far?

Home Form

Both sides have enjoyed a strong start to the campaign at their home grounds. In eight league games at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal have lost just once - their opening-day defeat to Aston Villa - and drawn only once too. That form has helped them accrue 19 of their 35 points so far and keep them top of the Premier League.

But no one has enjoyed a better start to life at home than Manchester City so far. Manuel Pellegrini's side have won seven out of seven, including a 7-0 win over Norwich City, a 6-0 triumph over Tottenham and a 4-1 thrashing of Manchester United. Particularly devastating at the Etihad Stadium has been the strike partnership of Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo, something Olivier Giroud cannot match all by himself.

Verdict: Manchester City

Away Form

Away from home, however, it has been a different story - and painfully so for Pellegrini's men. Eight Premier League trips on the road have brought four defeats for City, while they have won just two on their travels - at West Brom and West Ham. All the while, they have had a negative goal difference away from home.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have racked up five wins out of seven away from north London, losing just the once - at Old Trafford. Particularly impressive has been their goalscoring on the road, with the Gunners averaging two goals a game.

Verdict: Arsenal by a mile

Champions League

Both Arsene Wenger and Pellegrini will be delighted to have progressed from their respective Champions League groups. Both will be similarly frustrated, however, that they failed to top them.

Manchester City ended on a high, beating defending champions Bayern Munich 3-2 at the Allianz Arena, but fell one goal short of top spot. At the same time, a 2-0 loss at Napoli saw Arsenal finish runners-up behind Borussia Dortmund.

Nevertheless, it was the Gunners who negotiated the tougher group, qualifying past Dortmund, Napoli and Marseille - the aptly-named Group of Death.

Apart from their win in Munich, City had it relatively easy in comparison, beating Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow twice.

Verdict: Arsenal

Capital One Cup

Although the League Cup is more or less frowned upon by bigger clubs nowadays, it is still a good test of a side's strength in depth.

That could, perhaps, explain why Manchester City are in the quarter-finals and Arsenal are not.

Or it could just be that the Gunners faced Chelsea and the strongest side City have faced is Newcastle...

Either way, Pellegrini's men are still in the competition and Arsenal are not.

Verdict: Manchester City

Overall, then, it is a tie - but there are one or two things left to consider.

The Capital One Cup, of course, is far from a priority for either side, while the Champions League and Premier League are. Arsenal, meanwhile, do top the table, after all, while City only lie in fourth thanks to their torrid away form so far.

Taking everything into account, therefore, it is Wenger's men who have had the stronger season so far by just a shade. But whether that will count for anything at the Etihad on Saturday is another matter.

image: © geetarchurchy

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch