Arsenal v Manchester City
Kick off: September 13th, 2014 13.45 PM BST
Finally! After two boring weeks of international football we are prepared for the real thing. And, it can’t get much juicier than this – Arsenal play against the reigning champions Manchester City who are favourites on Betfair betting. A huge one, one that has all ingredients to be a goal-fest that even neutrals should enjoy. Both teams are loaded with talent, creativity and pace but neither of them had a nice memory from the last match before the international break – Arsenal were held to 1:1 draw against Leicester while Manchester City lost to Stoke at home (0:1).
Every time when we sign a new player, we are anxious to see him in action. Danny Welbeck is probably anxious too. He is from Manchester, was born and raised – football-wise – by Manchester United and there is nobody in our team who would like to beat The Oilers more than Welbeck. His pace and strength might be the weapon we have needed for years to beat big teams in the league.
For some reason, however, I believe Wenger might be tempted to use him as a left winger for the match against City with Alexis Sánchez occupying the central role in the attack. Alexis has scored two goals in two matches while playing as a central forward and that’s why I don’t believe Wenger would move Alexis on the wing.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain might start down the right flank with Mesut Özil having a pacey trident in front of him to pick with his perfect passes. The German had problems with an injury but it seems he will be fit to face The Citizens. He has been much better at home than on our travels so we might see the real Mesut against Manchester City, the one that splits opponents’ defence with a razor-sharp passes.
There are also options with Santi Cazorla – either in the hole or on the wing – and Yaya Sanogo – Wenger’s favourite striker against big teams. Remember, Sanogo has started matches against Bayern (Champions’ League), Liverpool (FA Cup) and Manchester City (Community Shield) in order to add pace to our attack.
Even though Welbeck adds pace to our attack, it remains unclear whether Wenger thinks he is ready to start against Manchester City. Chamberlain, Campbell, Özil, Cazorla, Wilshere, Rosicky, Podolski, Alexis Sánchez, Welbeck, Sanogo – ten players and even more options due to their versatility for just four places in the team. Ouch. What a headache.
While Wenger has a lot of options in the attacking department, the midfield might be the problem. City have a strong duo in Fernandinho and Yaya Toure with creativity (Silva) and width (Jesus Navas) down the flanks. Our best player Aaron Ramsey has been a huge doubt since picking a knock against Andorra (“joys” of international football, eh?) and that leaves a huge dilemma for Wenger whether to replace the Welshman by fielding Arteta-Flamini axis or to pick Wilshere/Rosicky as a direct replacement for Ramsey. Of course, there is a possibility that Ramsey would be ready for the match after all.
Two men who will depend mostly on how our central midfield will look like are Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. They’ll need as much protection as they can get given that City have two excellent strikers at their disposal – Edin Džeko and arguably the best striker in the league Sergio Agüero. Now, Stevan Jovetić’s injury means Manuel Pellegrini has problems too – after they had lost Negredo to Valencia and Jovetić to injury, they have just two excellent strikers.
Kieran Gibbs’ return should be a major boost for our defence. Now, Nacho Monreal did well while the Englishman was absent but Nacho’s performances in big matches haven’t been the best and City have players like Jesus Navas and Pablo Zabaleta (who suffered a dangerous foul by our Lukas Podolski during the match between Argentina and Germany) down their right flank. On the opposite flank Debuchy will have to watch out for Kolarov’s overlaps as the Serbian – who is not a speed demon – can cross the ball or even take the shot himself while Silva likes to drift inside and pull all the strings there. Pellegrini will probably go with experienced duo in central defence of Kompany and Demichelis. The Argentinian had been the weakest link in the visitors’ defence before the run-in when he did rather well.
There are a lot of reasons why we should and must beat the reigning champions. First of all, we are already four points behind Chelsea. If we lose against City, we would be four points behind City and, with all due respect to Swansea’s strong start, probably seven behind Chelsea. Then, we need to keep our winning mentality alive. We haven’t lost for 13 competitive matches in a row including eight league matches and there is no reason why we should let that streak end against City.
We have beaten the Citizens once this season already – 3:0 in Community Shield – and another victory against them would put serious pressure on them when we visit Etihad. Our victory would put an end to our poor streak in league matches against City – we haven’t beaten them in the league since Mikel Arteta’s wonderful strike had given us three well-deserved points in April 2012.
What to expect? Well, it won’t be an easy game and there is a reasonable fear from being defeated. However, I expect us to have decent refereeing (Clattenburg) and a lot of pace to exploit the weaknesses of The Citizens’ defence. I’d say Mesut Özil will finally step up in a big match and create at least two goals to give us an important victory against the title rivals. 2:1 for us, Alexis and Chamberlain to score goals for us with Silva to score for the visitors.
And, all that story about our problems in matches during the lunch-time… There is nothing better than the taste of a victory over the reigning champions in the early afternoon, is there?
Head to Head
Community Shield (CS) 10th August 2014 Arsenal FC 3 – Manchester City 0
Premier League (EPL) 29th March 2014 Arsenal FC 1 – Manchester City 1
Premier League (EPL) 14 Dec 2013 Manchester City 6 – Arsenal FC 3
Club Friendlies (FRC) 10 Aug 2013 Arsenal FC 3 – Manchester City 1
Premier League (EPL) 13 Jan 2013 Arsenal FC 0 – Manchester City 2
Debuchy Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
Arteta (c) Wilshere
Chamberlain Özil Welbeck
Arsenal 2 v 1 Manchester City