Eithad Stadium, Manchester
Sunday, September 23, 4:00 p.m. BST
Arsenal will travel to the Eithad stadium this Sunday to take on the reigning Premier League champions Manchester City. Both the teams are coming into this match on the back of contrasting results, both in League and Europe.
Arsenal demolished Southampton in their last league game 6-1 as Gervinho scored a wonderful brace. They followed that result with a hard fought victory over French champions Montpellier. Arsenal have remained undefeated this season and most importantly, they have have conceded only two goals in their last five competitive games. Arsenal will go into the match knowing that a good result at Manchester City will finally cement their title credentials this season. A tough two weeks are ahead for the Gunners as the prepare to face Chelsea next week.
Manchester City on the other hand only managed to draw their last game against Stoke City in the League, after Peter Crouch cancelled out Javi Garcia’s debut goal. Then they traveled to Real Madrid for their first game of their Champions League campaign. In an enthralling match Madrid defeated City 3-2 after Ronaldo scored the winner in the dying minutes of the match. Not the start Mancini would have wanted considering the fact that they were leading at a certain point in that match. City’s defense has been uncharacteristically shaky this season. They now need to get a good result against the Gunners to bounce back immediately from the disappointment in Spain.
Team News & Tactical Brief
Manchester City don’t have too many injury worries at the moment, but they are sure to miss Nasri in this match. The French international will miss the match against his former team after he hobbled out in the match against Real Madrid in the midweek. The only other injury concern at the moment is that of Micah Richards. The right back will be out for a long time and no return date has been set for him yet.
The good news for City fans is that both Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli are fit to feature in this match.
Three changes are expected on the starting line-up that faced Real Madrid in the opening match of the Champions League. Zabaleta will start in place of Maicon, while Nastasic will also be replaced by experienced center back Joleon Lescott. Lescott will resume his partnership with Kompany in the middle of the defense. Javi Garcia seemed to have displaced Jack Rodwell from the starting eleven, he will start alongside Barry in the double pivot of the midfield. Sergio Aguero will return to the starting eleven, while Tevez will play on the right.
City’s most problem so far this season has been their defense. They have conceded nine goals in their last five games (in all competitions). One of either Barry or Garcia might have to mark Santi Cazorla to reduce his impact in the game. Arsenal have also counter attacked very well this season, so City might be cautious while pushing men forward.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Hart(GK); Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Javi Garcia, Barry; Silva, Y Touré, Tevez; Agüero
Arsenal are currently 3rd in the Premier League table and 2nd in the injury list table. Goalkeeper Szczesny is out with an ankle injury and will out for nearly four weeks. Szczesny’s Polish team mate Fabianski is also out with an shoulder injury and no return date is set for him as of now. A good news arrived for the Gunners this week as Jack Wilshere and Frimpong returned to training, but they are still a long way off from being in first team contention. Bacary Sagna and Tomas Rosicky are close to returning to the first team, but the fans will have to wait for another two weeks atleast before they see them in action. Lastly, Maroune Chamakh is out with an illness that no one really knows nothing about.
Vito Mannone will once again get the opportunity to start. This has been quite a season for the Italian custodian, he started the season as Arsenal’s 3rd choice goalkeeper, but has found opportunities due to the misfortune of both Szczesny and Fabianski and now perhaps he has displaced Fabianski as the 2nd choice keeper.
The defense has been impressive this season. Per Mertesacker will once again start along with the Captain Thomas Vermaelen. Koscielny, who was Arsenal’s best defender last season, is finding it hard to break into the first team this season due to the good form of Mertesacker and Vermaelen.
No change is expected in the midfield three as Arteta, Diaby and Cazorla continue to function together brilliantly. The only change will be upfront, where Giroud will be replaced by Oxlade-Chamberlain in the starting eleven. Gervinho, who is in red hot form at the moment, will play upfront, the role in which he scored a wonderful brace against Southampton, while Chamberlain goes wide on the right side of the attack.
Manchester City’s weak-link in the defense has been in their fullback region, Chamberlain, Podolski and Gervinho will also to exploit it with their pace. If ‘The Ox’ and Podolski can can get behind the fullbacks, then the Gunners will cause a lot of trouble to City.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Mannone(GK); Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Diaby, Arteta; Podolski, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Gervinho;
- Man City have scored just one goal in the last five Premier League games against Arsenal.
- There have been four red cards in the last four Premier League games between City and the Gunners.
- Arsenal have lost just one of their last 10 Premier League away games (W6 D3 L1).
- Man City have won three of the last four home league games against Arsenal.
- Only Arsenal (10) have allowed their opponents fewer shots on target than Manchester City (11).
Facts courtesy Eurosports.
Players To Watch Out For
Gervinho has scored three goals in his last two games and it seems like he is in the form of his life. The Ivorian international was deployed in the center forward role against Southampton and all of a sudden he looks a completely different player. This is certainly not the first time Arsene Wenger has transformed a winger into striker, a certain Thierry Henry would concur. The Arsenal manager is confident that the ‘big forehead’ has it in him to play in that role consistently.
“You know we transform all the wingers into central strikers!
“I decided that during our tour of Asia, when I tried to play him in that position against Man City, I liked what he did and I put that in the back of my mind.
“He is such a great mover and he is so quick that when he wants to get ahead of the central defender, it’s difficult to catch him.” – Wenger told the press after Arsenal’s victory over Southampton last weekend.
If Giroud continues to misfire and Gervinho continues to excel in this role, the Frenchman can find himself on the bench very regularly.
Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
Is there a more complete midfielder than Yaya Toure playing in thee English Premier League at the moment? The answer is an emphatic no. In fact one would struggle to find a better box to box midfielder than him in any league at the moment. Toure has been a revelation since his arrival at the club. Mancini has deployed him in a much forward role than what he used play in for Barcelona and that seemed to have given Toure a new lease of life.
He has been consistently dominating midfield and put up a stellar performance against Real Madrid the other night. Arsenal will have to find a way to stop this man and his clash with an in form Abou Diaby will be fascinating to watch.
Manchester City 1-1 Arsenal
This match has all the makings of an enthralling contest. Manchester City haven’t lost at home for a long long time, while Arsenal are suddenly looking like a team that can challenge for silverware this season. Arsenal’s defense has been very organised this season, but it will be put to severe test by the City attack. It will be a tight match in which both teams should eventually share the points.