The Big Match Preview: Manchester City v Arsenal

What a difference twelve months makes. Arsenal travel to Manchester early this season in considerably better fettle than the last campaign when an injury-riven squad forced Pat Rice and Arsène to bring their boots with them to make the numbers up on the bench.  Yes there are players missing today but the two situations are not comparable. Arguably the only key player missing today is Wojciech Szczesny but given results so far, it is questionable perhaps whether he is the club’s first choice goalkeeper.

Just kidding.

The headlines are screaming that Arsène has declared this his best ever midfield (he didn’t) but this is arguing about opinions. It is hard to disagree that for the first time in several seasons, Arsenal have strength in depth in the middle of the park. Like those seasons previously, a proviso has to be added – so long as they stay fit and the injured players return. We have seen the scenario before, players out injured, return are like new signings and then disappear off again injured. Little wonder the manager is never very active in the transfer market if he thinks all of his new signings will be missing for months on end.

It is reassuring to see that there is no rush to get Jack Wilshere back into first team action. Previous seasons have seen pressure requiring a speedier return to action than might normally be expected, this time Jack is looking at a reserve match on 1st October as his target. Dispensing with the haste comes as a result of the form of the current first choice players, the seamless transition of Mikel Arteta into the deeper-lying role, Abou Diaby‘s return to fitness and Santi Cazorla’s introduction.

Consider that for a moment. Three players. Last season’s Mr Consistent in the attacking role changing his position. Mr Injured. Mr New Signing. Three players who had never played together before. You would not believe it from their performances this season. It puts the efforts of previous seasons into perspective, speaking volumes of their abilities.

Key to that is consistency of selection, a luxury rarely afforded to the manager, available because each of the individuals is intelligent enough to realise that they are an important cog in a team rather than being the saviour. Cazorla is catching the eye, living up to the expectations piled on with observations such as these from Robert Pires,

When I got to Villarreal. I saw this incredible footballer. Santi dictated the play, had a great shot and had everything that a really big club would look for. We thought that would be Real Madrid

Thankfully that fell through and this afternoon will bring jarring comparisons between the two Spanish internationals on display. Similar to those faced by Abou Diaby and Yaya Toure. The Ivorian rejected by Arsène Wenger earlier in his career is offering the consistent level of performance that Diaby should aspire to at Arsenal. And I use the word ‘aspire’ guardedly, simply because of the negative impact of injuries. The two are not yet comparable for that reason but ought to fill the same roles in the team. Maybe in this clash later this season – more likely next season – the Frenchman will have been able to deliver a season of performances which justify that expectation.

The biggest question for Arsène this afternoon is defensive. Three of the four positions are surely sealed, Sagna is not ready to resume action so Jenkinson retains his place alongside Gibbs and Vermaelen but does Mertesacker? The German has been a steadying influence at the back but is the prospect of Aguero and Tevez starting enough for Wenger to change his central pairing, to restore Laurent Koscielny whose pace is better than the tall German. Like the midfield, it is a headache that the manager could only dream about in the past. This time, I think Koscielny will return with pace being the deciding factor.

The starting line-up I would pick is:

Mannone; Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Cazorla, Diaby; Gervinho, Giroud, Podolski

It means no place for Oxlade-Chamberlain but with Gervinho finding the net in the past two matches, it seems perverse to drop him. But those are the decisions the manager has to make and arguably playing the same line-up and formation which won at Anfield makes sense. I don’t think that will be the case though. The trio above offers a great deal of variety in attack: Giroud is direct and uncomplicated, Podolski is the threat from deep and Gervinho is, well, Gervinho and God alone knows what is going on in the Ivorian’s head at the moment.

Forty-five years ago today Arsenal beat Manchester City 1 – 0 at Highbury with John Radford scoring the decisive goal. A repeat Arsenal win today would be most welcomed.

Enjoy the match wherever you watch it.

’til Tomorrow.

335 thoughts on “The Big Match Preview: Manchester City v Arsenal

  1. Bill,
    hope you were playing for money?
    Or is the ‘ol BP acting up again?
    Can’t imagine, bar emergency, what could take me away from the tube during an Arse game.

    shape up or lose ya RASER credentials man..ok?


  2. Rambo playing RW was indeed frustrating at times.
    His need to be on the ball needs to be tempered somewhat.
    Once he moved to CM, he was absolutely unstoppable.

    AA should have played RW. More natural at it than Rambo

  3. > WTF???? Golf, lunch out .What sort of fans are you people.?????


    Sophisticated, proper people. The sort of people who can dress up like pimps, wave metal bars about and not get arrested. I understand they call it golf.

  4. and its rather exciting to have players like Aaron in the team. he is soo good. look at Aarons age!21 and welsh captain already. and he can only get better. Everyone always talks about Jack, but Aaron can become very very very good too. Then throw coquelin and Frimpong into the mix. We got exciting times ahead this season… exciting indeed. The difference from before is that this time they got experienced players ahead of them. No cesc that had to become captain at an early age. No Nasri that was given to much responsibility at a to early age. This time they will have the chance to grown in the shadow of experienced team mates.
    In a way AW was very ruthless with his youngsters. Take denilson, had he been able to develop in a slower pace, had he not had to play an etire season with a back injury maybe he could have fulfilled his potential. He was used and thrown away. Cesc, I think mentally he was preaty exhausted to and that one of the reasons he enjoys barca is that hes no longer carrying the team on his shoulders.
    Now we will have a generation of young guns that will come through an established team. a team full of leaders. it will be grand! im sure of it…

  5. High quality performance from the lads with no lack of heart either.

    Jenks & Ramsey have rightly received praise but for me Mert was utterly outstanding. His interceptions & reading of the game are top class.

    The only issue I had was the subbing of a goal threat in Podolski rather than Gervinho who`d had an absolute stinker.

  6. Big fuckin german, we got a big fuckin german!!!

    Great performance today, deserved to win, never mind draw away from home against the best team (sic) in the land.

    Thought Jenks anD gibss were awesome. My mate was well pissed off at the line up when he saw Diaby and Ramsey were starting and 2 blokes behind me spent the whole game slating Gervinho. I was willing him to score that chance at the death just so i could turn round and tell em to stop celebrating it for being whiney fuckers! 🙂

    Their goal was a real disapointing one to concede, looks like we are doing the zonal thing again, hmmm, not a fan.

    Anyhoo, 3 points next week no probs!

  7. That was another f**k off performance! Arsenal edged it. The Ox or Walcott instead of Gervinho would have buried at least one of those chances….Let’s see what the media will write now…..

  8. I’m not a Gervinho fan. I don’t expect his first touch to improve. He’s past the age of development and improvement. He is exactly as Philipe Auclair described him when we signed him, sublime and ridiculous. He the 50% man, half great, half very frustrating….

  9. to those moaning about gervinho, who was better between gerv and aguero? gerv was everywhere, he never hid. the fact he had most of our chances says a lot.
    city used four striker with a combine fee of over £110m and yet gervinho outshine them. would anyone here have taken aguero over gerv considering his £38m fee and £250k/w wage. we should learn to appreciate our players. after all no one gave us any chance at the start of the season.
    baloteli didn’t touch the ball at all today and he cost £24m.

  10. A good result. I thought we played pretty damnn well.

    Jenkinson and Mertesacker were excellent. Jenks MotM for me. Our midfield were superb in the first half but faded a bit in the second. We didn’t really test Hart too much, but we are looking a much more solid and better organised side. Lets not forget that M City are a fucking good team.

    A good point. I have a good feeling about this group of players.

    Ramsey had a decent game as well I thought. I am not sure if Gervinho did; he was equally good and shite in equal measures. A Baffling footballer.

  11. True layksite. I was stood right behind the goal when gerv had that late chance and although he missed, he made the space and the opportunity himself, as he did many times today. Add to that the tireless tunning and always trying to make something happen.

    He has had a great start this season, listening and reading over critical BS is lamentabler but predictable, unfortunately.

  12. He was not Andy shit.His finishing was poor.his general game brings a grin to my chops.
    Hello Dexter.

  13. Hello George, good game, good game.

    I also thought Jenkinson was AMAZING! What a difference a year makes huh? So happyu for him. As I have mentioned on here a few times, I lost count of the number of posts and blogs and articles I saw saying how useless and not good enough Carl was.

  14. I do hope Theo and the club get together asap and sort their differences out. I think we are on the brink of good times, be a real shame for it to be destablised due to a few £££s! 🙂

  15. pedantic george aka Blackburngeorge
    September 23, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    “I likes Gervinho today .He baffled the fuck out of City”

    He baffled the fuck out of his team mates as well 😀

  16. It was me who found him frustrating, steww, so feel free to avoid my posts in future – if you’re not doing so already.

    Maybe it’s because I dislike the backheel as a passing technique – Aaron seems to be developing a sort of tic for them, and I just wish he wouldn’t.

    Really whacked over short distances, as in the famous TH14 goal, the backheel I don’t mind, but elsewhere on the pitch I find them annoying – the passing equivalent of the step-over.

    That said, he was unfortunate to have Gerv hip-barge him to the ground when he was moving at speed in a good central attacking position. He is due a goal soon – denied by the post vs So’ton – so let’s hope it comes against the Chavs.

  17. Gervinho reminds me of Adebayor in the 30 goal season he had for us. He could have one of those days where he couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo and where all of his decisions looked to be the wrong ones, but you just couldn’t take him of because of his work rate. When a player works that hard and gets into that many positions it is likely that one of them will come right. Gervinho was unlucky today, but he never hid, he was always looking for the ball. I’d rather have a player trying hard for the team, than one who hides when things aren’t working out. It would have been too easy to sub him today, the right thing to do was to leave him on the pitch for as long as possible to disturb the City defence. AW did the right thing and on another day Gervinho would have buried one of those chances, or set up someone else to bury one.

  18. john terry retires from international football. good radiance.
    just give him the 8 game ban and £40k fine. the same punishment handed to suarez.

  19. Finally got round to reading the match report on the BBC website written by Ben Smith. It seemed to be a reasonable write up until the last paragraph. Then the little wanker couldn’t resist it:

    It was hard not to imagine what might have been had Wenger been able to call on the services of a world class striker, like Van Persie, to finish off so much of his team’s good work.

    What a complete tosser!

  20. i feel like people were so ridiculous in their claims about ramsey. the kid has got a winning mentality, and ability to match after such a harsh injury.

  21. The first half was the best football I have seen by any team this season.

    Ramsey was excellent…a world class player in the making. I really cannot see where the criticism, if any, is coming from.

    I think Gervs was just a bit over excited having scored 3 goals recently. I think he will settle down and score with regularity.

  22. i was surprised podolski was taken off, but on hindsight, with city sitting deep and in numbers, you need guile. and who has that aplenty? gervinho.

    and he almost justified it right at the end, a little jink to make space for the shot that went all wrong.

  23. remember that moment when ramsey wriggled out of trouble from two city players fouling him on the right touchline? ref waved play on, because arsenal kept the ball. and ramsey didnt go down for the freekick.

    that is what i like about our players. we are fighters who stay on our feet, not those sissies who flop themselves down to the ground at the slightest imagined contact.

  24. Clerkenwell Gooner
    September 23, 2012 at 10:33 pm
    If all you said is you don’t like him using the backheel too much that’s nothing for me to get my knickers in a twist about. I assumed from what was said that journalists and bloggers were saying he’d had a bad match, that would be a risible thing thing to say.

  25. It’s funny, scrolling back through the comments, how some people seem blind to a player’s contribution throughout the ninety minutes and only aware of one bad decision or one missed shot.
    Take Gervihno. You’d imagine he’d sat on the bench throughout the match, ran on tripped Aron, not passed to Giroud and missed a shot then trotted off the pitch again. The bloke was an integral part of a great team performance, a match we should have won and which in previous years we may well have lost to two or three counter attacking goals.

  26. exactly steww.

    i think you can say we are playing without strikers and playing well indeed, because the trio we have up front are very dynamic and fluid and pose many questions for the opposition defence.

  27. korihikage
    September 24, 2012 at 7:49 am
    Good point. Who the hell do you mark when any one of six players could be running at the defence from anywhere on the pitch.
    I don’t even think it’s working at it’s best yet either. I think often there were two or three of our players trying to occupy the same space and when that happens accidents like Ramsay and Gervinho can happen, or there can be no pass on because everyone is too close. But as the players grow together , and it’s happening right in front of our eyes, so the fluidity and speed of passing will increase and improve and then the opposition better watch out.

  28. Stew MOTD last night had a list of goals scored by their “strikers”, on last night’s show.They had to say that we only had 2 goals because they couldn’t work out who our strikers are.Classic .

    Come on Yogi ,my blog has been written and published,you should at least be able keep up with a beginner like me.

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