One more league game to go before Arsenal switches their attention to the cup competitions. Manchester City are the visitors and as I wrote in my last post, are not exactly in the best frame of mind to face us. However, that does not hide the fact that they are currently sitting between us and Manchester United. It does not really paints the most accurate of pictures, seeing that the number of games played are different. Yet, after United’s win over Stoke yesterday, Arsenal must win to keep pace.
Even after all the squabbles and the middle of the season transfer request from the captain of the side, Roberto Mancini seemed to have steadied the ship at City. They have only lost 4 league games all season, that is 1 less than us. The goals scored and goals conceded column further emphasizes the type of football that Mancini employs.
The team that Mancini sets out always have 3 central, more defensive type of midfielders. Usually those are Gareth Barry, Nigel De Jong and Yaya Toure. I don’t expect changes to that trio tonight. It will be a direct competition between them and Jack Wilshere, Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song in our midfield. Interesting. Song would have to be wary of the forward runs from Toure which are very direct.
The first game at Manchester was all about putting behind the big defeat from last season and showing Emmanuel Adebayor that it was his folly to run the length of the field to celebrate. This time around, this fixture is about starting the end of one Manchester club challenge to keep pace with the other Manchester club. A draw would do neither side any good as both would’ve already played more game(s) than United.
The shape of the team is more or less defined over the Christmas playing period. Arsene Wenger may have just found his best side in the shape of those who started against Chelsea and Birmingham. Since no new injuries were picked up, we can safely assume that with the 3 days rest in between, the same 11 is in line for a start. That would see;
With Leeds coming up on Saturday and Ipswich next midweek, there really shouldn’t be any reason for Wenger to rest players. If he is concern about the well being of RvP, then Marouane Chamakh could come into the game. As for Johan Djourou, I’d say we risk playing him in this game and hope for the best. At the moment, I just do not trust having Sebastien Squillaci in the side.
What we did so well against Chelsea will have to be replicated tonight. The pressing game will have to continue for 90 minutes. No one likes it, not even us. Not when players are not allowed time on the ball to think about the next move. This again will start from the top, with Robin Van Persie harrying Vincent Kompany and Kolo Toure/Joleon Lescott.
The threat from City will come from Adam Johnson and James Milner, both expected to start wide on the wings. They are able to switch flanks throughout the game, which is reasons enough for Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna to share defensive thoughts. But it is not only dependant on them only as Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott respectively in front of them, will need to support our defensive side of the game.
10 points out of 12 would be a very welcome return over this crazy period of games. That means another 3 points tonight to cap a wonderful run of games. Come on you Gunners!!