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 fansbet.com 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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