Arsenal Up Against It At The Etihad

Preview of today’s Premier League match away to Manchester City

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Loan signing Denis Suarez returns to familiar ground today

The usual five talking points ahead of today’s Premier League match away to Manchester City

A Ray Of Light
Let’s start with a positive, eh? Pep Guardiola’s team is not as defensively solid as Liverpool have been this season. And Arsenal have at least two players that can find the net with an element of regularity. Ok, there may be an element of straw clutching here, but given how much Pep Guardiola likes his defenders to play passing football – not unlike Unai Emery – if they are pressed sufficiently, then possession can be won in dangerous areas. Arsenal will have chances in this game, no doubt about it. How clinical they are when they get them will determine just how long the trip back down the M6 and M1 feels to the away supporters.

Granted, Arsenal are hardly a shining example
Yes, we know all about Arsenal’s defensive problems. I’d expect an uncharacteristically cautious approach to this match from Emery, who would probably bite your hand off for a point if you offered it to him before kick off. He played four at the back against Cardiff, but with three of his more combatant midfielders. In truth, that didn’t seem to stop the Welsh side having a couple of very decent chances in the first half. It doesn’t seem to matter what the formation or personnel is, the Arsenal head coach has never found a solution to preventing opposition chances. The policy looks to be outscoring them. So who will we see line up today? Emery cannot afford to give Laurent Koscielny more time for his jaw to fully recover, so one anticipates he will start alongside Mustafi. Kolasinac will probably get the nod at left back ahead of Monreal (although the latter might have to play in the centre of Koscielny cannot), whilst at right back, assuming Maitland-Niles is unfit, surely Lichtsteiner will start ahead of Carl Jenkinson, especially as full back forays forward are likely to be less frequent today.

Ozil Out, Ramsey In?
Emery gave Mesut Ozil the platform to stake a regular starting spot against Cardiff last Tuesday. No-one really shone for the Gunners in a pretty insipid performance, although Guendouzi and Lacazette did marginally better than their colleagues. Critically though, the return of the number 10 did not aid the team’s attacking creativity, even though he was frequently involved and had space in which to operate. His being subbed after 76 minutes was probably more to do with match fitness than a reflection on his contribution. He did try to make things happen. However, Arsenal will need to press against City, and track runners. It would be a huge surprise if Ozil did start, and given the nature of what’s required, one expects Aaron Ramsey to take his place, although there could be a surprise start for the new loan signing…

Dennis Suarez from the start, or from the bench?
One imagines that Granit Xhaka was rested against Cardiff, and is likely to return today, and with numbers in midfield a big factor, surely both Torreira and Guendouzi will keep their places. With Aubameyang and Laczette presumably both starting, the only question is who is the third attacking player, assuming it isn’t Mesut Ozil. Aaron Ramsey is probably the best option, although Alex Iwobi might being instead, having been a sub in the previous game. A wild card would be to start Denis Suarez. City should, in theory, know all about him, having had him on their books as a teenager. Then again, how many of the coaching staff from 2013 are still at the club is anyone’s guess. It seems unlikely, and the smart money is on Suarez making a cameo from the bench.

A Good Memory To End
I want to take you back four years. Manchester City v Arsenal on 18th January 2015. City were on a 12 match unbeaten run, Arsenal had not won their since 2010. Arsenal were in the Europa League positions. The Gunners played deep and gave their hosts the majority of the possession, as a new combination of Cazorla and Coquelin paired up in midfield. Coquelin provided the steel and Cazorla the creativity as their side posted a shock 2-0 win. It went against the grain of Wengerball and there were rumours the approach was a result of a team meeting between the players rather than the tactics of the manager. Well, he did have a philosophy of letting the players work things out for themselves. It was a great match to watch if you were an Arsenal fan. Ok, it’s asking a lot for a repeat today, but Emery has stated he expects City to have more of the ball, so it will be a different approach from his side. And hey, football is full of surprises, right? We wait and watch, some of us from behind the sofa…

Sorry people, we end with a bit of reality. City habitually beat Arsenal these days and will be smarting from their loss at Newcastle. 3-1 to Guardiola’s side, and let’s hope it doesn’t get any uglier than that. Arsenal have not kept a clean sheet away from home in the Premier League so far this season. Do the maths. Incidentally, if you sign up with our partners you can enjoy a risk free bet of £20 or more on the over/under 3.5 goals market for this game. If you lose get £20 back! Just make sure you select The Gooner when you register as an Arsenal fans as half of profits they make from any future bets will then go ot help maintain The Gooner.

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  1. John F

    Feb 4, 2019, 12:31 #113086

    I looked at the remaining fixtures of Chelsea,Utd,Arsenal and I can only see Chelsea getting the 4th spot especially with Higuain in now.Utd have a tricky run in and if we can beat them at home we should get 5th .Spurs and an improving Wolves side will prove to be tough for Arsenal as we know but also Watford away is dodgy.Everton could well have a new manager by the time we meet in April and as Arsenal are the club that keeps on giving i wouldn't be surprised to lose that one.I think we will win all our home games.If Dic k doesn't work out the Leeds manager is worth a shout and is doing a great job.He is a real character,one of my customer s is one of the players grandad and he was telling me he got the players out litter picking the streets so they became aware of how hard people have to work to afford a ticket.Can you imagine our lot putting on yellow bibs and litter picking the seven sisters.

  2. peter wain

    Feb 4, 2019, 08:41 #113082

    why why why Iwobi? When he gets the ball he does nothing with it. We would be better with ten men rather than play him

  3. peter wain

    Feb 4, 2019, 08:16 #113081

    you cannot blame a 34 year free transfer for being useless blame the comic who signed him. The collapse of the team in the second half was embarrassing - do not they train to play at least 60 minutes? The results against better teams shows the level we have fallen to and we will not get out of it for along time and may even fall further if as suspected the yank restricts our spending again.

  4. Paulo75

    Feb 3, 2019, 21:59 #113080

    Started the game shooting ourselves in the foot within a minute. Tactically inept and weak as per the last 10 years away from home against top teams. Agree Emery needs time and resources but some of his decisions continue to baffle me. Thought today was a day for 5 at the back and Lacazette on his own up front. His loyalty to Xhaka , Iwobi and the signing of Lichtsteiner have me stumped.

  5. Bard

    Feb 3, 2019, 19:11 #113079

    Iwobi's mistake in the 1st minute says it all. Dick has a cultural problem, after a decade of no coaching you cant expect players to know what to do. Dick has a big job and he needs the funds to do it. We need to give him time and to get his own players. After today I would think Iwobi is looking like he needs to be moved on. They were stupid errors, he lacks tactical discipline. Also Lichenstiener is a busted flush another shocking buy.

  6. Bard

    Feb 3, 2019, 19:11 #113078

    Iwobi's mistake in the 1st minute says it all. Dick has a cultural problem, after a decade of no coaching you cant expect players to know what to do. Dick has a big job and he needs the funds to do it. We need to give him time and to get his own players. After today I would think Iwobi is looking like he needs to be moved on. They were stupid errors, he lacks tactical discipline. Also Lichenstiener is a busted flush another shocking buy.

  7. John F

    Feb 3, 2019, 18:48 #113077

    I expected to lose but that was just an awful 2nd half even teams below us have played better then that and not one shot on target in the half either.Pep was looking worried that his defence was getting frostbite.The city goalkeeper had frost on his eyebrows.The team selection was way too negative and was not set up to expose the slight weakness City have which is their defence.Our defender s concede because they ball watch,perhaps the Arsenal fans should adopt the panto cry of he is behind you at games.Dic k was poor and true Wenger style waited for City to score the third before any changes were made. .Litch should think about changing to walking football,he would struggle in a Father Ted football team. This game reminded me of watching the Harlem Globe Trotters when I was a kid with Arsenal playing the part of the team of statues sent out to play them.

  8. KC38

    Feb 3, 2019, 18:29 #113076

    3 1 not too bad. How sad it is that I can actually say that. We are so bad defensively when we lose the ball we look so vulnerable. Emery has had injuries to deal with and perhaps we have to accept his style of play will see a better unit once he has signed his players. It's just embarrassing watching us defensively. Iwobi is a waste of time especially away no end product. And doesn't protect his full back. We need a whole new defensive unit. Come on the New England Patriots.

  9. Bard

    Feb 3, 2019, 15:21 #113075

    I'll be happy if we avoid a thrashing. Quite how we havent got in a loan defender during the window beggars belief given how awful we are defensively. I presume there are targets for the summer at least thats how the club probably wants to spin it but this is Arsenal a club synonymous with chaos and disorder for the last decade. Who remembers us signing Kallstrom despite having broken back. Summer plans ? Will believe it when I see it. I'll take a narrow loss.