A win against the reiging league champions will send out a massive statement across the league, no longer incapable of mixing with the big boys. Arsenal over the last few years have been dismissed by flat track bullies and their inability to thrust themselves in big games has long been cited as the reason for their many unsuccessful shots at the title.
While it’s completely understandable why we have never been the favorites, points against your fellow title challengers alone doesn’t guarantee the title. You get three for thrashing a newly promoted side at home and the same for nicking an away win at City or Liverpool.
Last season this theory couldn’t have been proved better, Chelsea amassed a whopping 16 from 18 points against the teams that finished top 4 and still finished third. City on the other hand managed a meagre 7 points and ended as Champions. Manchester United in 08-09 (Champions) also had a terrible record against the big boys that season but were simply ruthless against the midtable and relegation opponents.
Let me make it clear, I would cherish a win against Mourinho’s ugly Chelsea, Pellegrini’s mercenary City and a team from Merseyside whose supporters still live in the 70’s and 80’s.
Having said that we are in dire need of three points against City and we will take a look into how Arsenal can win the game.
Manchester City under Manuel Pellegrini play a very attacking 4-4-2. The midfield two last season were Toure and Fernandinho. This season they have bought Fernando and have further strengthened an already strong midfield.
Manchester City historically have a dreadful record at the Emirates and they have won only once at the Emirates, a couple of seasons back. Arsenal even after City’s emergence have done reasonably well against the Citizens. Yes we lost 6-3, but we had enough chances to win the game actually were it not for Giroud’s profligacy and some atrocious refreeing.
Even if you are Xavi and Iniesta in a two-man midfield, you will find it extremely difficult to cope with a top class three-man midfield. It’s simple math 3>2. But then again in Fernandinho and Toure, City have excellent midfielders powerful, technical and capable of scoring goals also. They usually emerge unscathed against lower opponents because of their sheer overall quality. Having two in the centre allows an additional forward and more often than not the Mancunians score more and get the job done.
However this also seems to be their undoing against genuinely top class opposition, they lost both the games against Chelsea, Liverpool deserved atleast a draw at Etihad last season and could have lost at Emirates had Arsenal converted their dominance into goals. I don’t mean to say City didn’t deserve to win the title, they fully deserved it and my case is that they can be beaten by Arsenal and the title can be won even with a not so great record against your fellow challengers.
Pellegrini negates this numerical disadvantage by playing Silva on the left. Silva drifts into the centre and makes a three man midfield allowing the fullback to overlap, fullbacks bombing forward is key to City’s attacking play. To counter this threat we have exactly that speed demon in Sanchez who can get in behind and threaten if a fullback is caught too far up the pitch.
In short I could see us simply dominating the centre given Toure’s propensity to go gung-ho, Silva and Nasri’s fallibility on the defensive side and our sheer numbers in the middle- Ozil, Cazorla and Ramsey up against Fernando or Fernandinho. Even if City opt for one up front and push Toure further up the field, we should not get overplayed and should have enough to hold the midfield. Midfield holds the key.