So. City. Money vs Development. Cash vs Class. Yaya Toure’s arse vs Alex Song’s hair. Wait, that doesn’t sound right.
Having played on Tuesday while City played on Thursday means that we have had two extra days to prepare. That being said, they have the ability to rotate far more than we do so I expect us to line up not unlike the team which dispatched Shakhtar with such ease.
This is an entirely different proposition though. Man City at home in the league are a completely different beast than Man City when they are away (or even at home in Europe). There is bad blood between the two teams, and with the raft of ex-Arsenal players in their side, they have a little bit of added incentive to do well – just see the ex-25′s performance on Thursday – it is no coincidence that his best performance of the season came in the match immediately preceding our arrival. Sure you could say he hasn’t really had a chance to play this year, but he’s had opportunity enough (and in training as well) to make himself first choice – he just hasn’t bothered.
Mancini was quoted as saying we are currently the best side in the league and while I wouldn’t want to argue with him (because he’s right) we know, on certain days, we can be brushed aside by more powerful teams. Not so this season I reckon as we’ve demonstrated a bit more bite and determination not to be outmuscled, but it is an issue we will continually need to work on against the bigger teams.
In goal we will see Fabianski retain his place, and with glowing praise coming from the current number two Chesney (when we all thought he might not like his fellow Pole that much) it is true that at no time in his Arsenal career has Fabianski looked so solid. At the back we have no choice but to play Djourou and Squillaci with the former showing just why Wenger has so much faith in him with his displays getting better with every minute on the pitch as he looks to put his injury horrors behind him and the latter proving to be one of those so-called leaders we are meant to be missing. At full-back I have a feeling we will see Gibbs replace Clichy and while Sagna is returning I don’t know if he will come on in place of Eboue. A nice problem to have if I’m honest.
In midfield, with Jack suspended we shall see Cesc return to league action alongside Songinho and Nasri meaning we won’t suffer too much from the loss of Jack’s creativity.
Out wide I fancy we will see Theo get his first start since returning from injury, with Arshavin being brought back on the right. Chamakh will start up top and City’s defence, tight as it is, might just find his movement and ability to win penalties just too much to handle.
I’m really not sure how this match is going to go as so much depends on which Arsenal side turns up. Should it be the side which makes the ex-25 look industrious then we will get turned over and rightly so, but if we apply ourselves I think we should be able to take the points.
The win against Shakhtar should not be underestimated. To put five past them was no mean feat and was a timely boost to confidence levels which had taken a bit of a battering recently. We are nearing November, traditionally Arsenal’s worst month in the league, so we need all the points we can get on the board ‘just in case.’ That being said we have a far kinder November ahead of us than we have had in recent years with games against Shakthar (a), Newcastle (h), Wolves (a), Everton (a), Spuds (h), Braga (a), and Villa (a) making up the fixtures. That’s a lot of away games, but more than beatable opposition in every match.
But Sunday, that’s where our focus should be.
For a team with so much attacking ability Man City will probably line up quite defensively which means we will have to work extra hard to try and break them down. We need to make sure we take our chances when we make them and some shooting from outside the box would be nice as well if we can manage it.
For me, the points will be taken by the team who wants it the most. We just have to make sure that is us if we are to have any delusions of becoming champions.
In other news Wellington looks set to be granted a ‘special talent’ work permit which will allow him to officially join Arsenal on 6th January when Wenger has said he will look to fast-track him in to the first team. Quite what that means I’m not entirely sure, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that we will see him line up in the Carling Cup final at the end of February where he will score a hattrick and cement his place as a future Arsenal legend.
On the back of Arsene’s comments in the press conference saying he wanted to keep Cesc for many years to come our Captain has been all over the place talking about his commitment to Arsenal. I know there are many people out there who doubt this, many who believe we should have sold him (even though we were only offered approximately 50% of his true market value) and can’t live with the fact that he wants to play for Barcelona. I have no problem with that as long as he gives everything for Arsenal while still with us. He never hid the fact that Barca were the club he was in love with, and asking him to chose between Arsenal and Barcelona is akin to asking him to chose between his mother and his wife. It has nothing to do with loyalty, for if he was disloyal he would have demanded to leave. Anyone who doubts that Cesc loves Arsenal is letting their feelings cloud their judgement, and as I said the other day, if Barcelona were to suddenly cease to exist I have no doubt that Cesc would remain at Arsenal for the rest of his career.
And let’s be clear on this, Cesc wanting to join Barca at some point in the future is not the same as many others professing the same. He is Catalan and a Barca youth player – quite different than say the ex-25 and his Milan dreams.
Pah, it’s all ifs and buts at the minute, whatever your opinion, Cesc is an Arsenal player and you can bet your house he will give 100% every time he pulls on that shirt.
Starting with the match at the Middle Eastlands tomorrow.
Bring it on.------------
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