Arsenal travel to Manchester to face league leaders Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in what promises to be an important clash for the gunners in their quest for the all important top-four spot and also to maintain their current unbeaten run. Going into this match, the scene has been set nicely with Manchester City suffering their first defeat of the Premier League last week to Chelsea and Arsenal winning at Everton with a superb Van Persie strike to seal all three points.
In terms of defence, the gunners have been stretched thin due to injuries to all of our natural full-backs so it is expected that Thomas Vermaelen will start at left-back again this week with Djourou to start on the right. Preferably one feels Wenger would have wanted to put Koscielny and Vermaelen in the middle to counteract City’s fast and slick attacking style, but due to injury as described above it is very likely that Koscielny and Mertesacker will pair up in the middle to try keep out the likes of Aguero and Balotelli.
Further up the pitch expect the formation and players to be the same as recent weeks with Gervinho, Van Persie and Walcott the front trio and in behind them Ramsey, Arteta and lastly Song to screen the back-line. With Van Persie in spectacular form and City unable to keep a clean-sheet in their last four matches expect the Dutchman to extend his current scoring record. With Walcott also putting in consistently good performances in recent weeks, expect him to get in behind City’s defence with his electric pace.
No doubt Arsenal have their hands-full with this upcoming match, but I feel we definitely have a fair chance of winning the tie, particularly with our potency on attack and City’s recent failure to keep clean-sheets. A win at the Etihad Stadium would definitely keep confidence levels sky-high and also prove doubters wrong over the recent criticisms on Arsenal’s credentials this season. Hopefully we can secure all three points and keep moving up the ladder!
on Jack Wilshere…
He had a very important scan on Thursday and that was very, very good, exceptionally good. The news we have for Jack is very positive. No [he will not be back sooner], we will respect the delays. I count maybe mid-February for Jack.
on Kieran Gibbs…
He is I think one week maximum away. He could be present at Aston Villa or the game after [against Wolves. Of course, you want him back and to play.
His scan was not good news, the wait will be longer than expected. We have to wait four more weeks for another scan. His stress fracture is not a career-damaging injury but it will take a bit longer than expected.
on the Man City game…
Basically I will have the same squad available as last week against Everton. There are no new injuries and nobody really coming back.
Arsenal – Robin van Persie – The flying Dutchman has been impressive form this calendar year and will look to continue his fine scoring record, particularly against a City side that has been failing to get clean-sheets in recent weeks.
Manchester City – Sergio Aguero – The Argentine is a close contender with Robin van Persie for Golden Boot. The tricky City forward will no doubt look to test Arsenal’s defence.
Djourou Mertesacker Koscielny Vermaelen
Walcott Van Persie (c) Gervinho
With all Arsenal’s natural fullbacks out of action expect to see Vermaelen shift out left and recently utilised replacement Djourou to start on the right. The rest of the team will remain the same after being rested in midweek.