Saturday, 22 September 2012

Arsenal's Premier League Trip To Manchester City Previewed

Arsenal have had a good start to their Premier League campaign with eight points from their first four games. It leaves them in third place in the table with only Chelsea and Manchester United ahead of them.

To keep their good start going Arsenal will have to take their performances to the next level in this game. Manchester City are the current Premier League champions and the main reason they won that title was their 18 wins out of 19 home games. They have won their first two home games already this season despite the fact that they haven't played too well so far.

City prided themselves on having the best defence in the Premier League last season, but this time around they seem to be struggling just a little at the back. They have conceded six goals in their first four games, but they have managed to score nine goals. There is no doubting their ability to score goals but it's unusual to see their defence struggling.

Arsenal were the team with the dodgy defence last season but they have certainly turned that around this season. Southampton scored against them last week but they were the first team to do so this season. The Arsenal team didn't defend quite so well as a unit away to Montpellier in the Champions League on Tuesday night but at least they won.

While Arsenal were beating Montpellier City managed to snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory away to Real Madrid in the same competition. They were 2-1 up with only three minutes left but they ended up losing 3-2. Roberto Mancini will be looking for a reaction from his players against Arsenal.

In team news Arsenal have no new injury worries to talk about, but Wojciech Szczesny looks set to miss out again. It means Vito Mannone will get another chance to impress in goal and he has done just that with each of his previous three chances this season. Szczesny will have to recover from his injury quite soon if Mannone continues to play so well or he could find himself warming the bench for a while.

I'm a big fan of Szczesny but I also think Mannone will have to kept in the team if he continues his current form for another few games. He has done very well in the three games he has played and he has shown a lot of confidence and maturity too. The rest of the team seem to have confidence in him too which always helps from a defenders point of view.

I don't expect Arsene Wenger to make too many chnges from the team which beat Montpellier on Tuesday night. I would imagine the defence and midfield will stay the same unless any of the players are feeling some early season fatigue. The most likely changes will probably come in Arsenal's attacking trio if they are to come.

Olivier Giroud is still looking for his first Arsenal goal, but he has only started three games for the club. I think the goals will come for him but he just has to get that all important first goal to kick start him. He may not start against City though as Lukas Podolski is just as likely to play as the central striker.

I can't see Gervinho being left out either with three goals in his last two games as he looks like his second season in English football could be the one where he starts to shine. When he was bought from Lille just over a year ago he had more goals and assists than Eden Hazard in his final season. I'm not saying that makes him a better player than Hazard but it does show he has got some real potential for Arsenal.

Usually Arsenal come up against quite a few ex players when they play City but it won't be the case this time. The only ex player who might get a run out against them is Gael Clichy and he looks like Nicklas Anelka now with his new haircut. Samir Nasri is injured and I would be surprised to see Kolo Toure get a game.

It promises to be a very good game and from an Arsenal perspective it's vital that the midfield performs better than it did against Montpellier. They were hurried and hassled far too much in the second half of that game and they need to show more composure against City. It's vital that Arsenal have as much possession as possible to stop City building up a head of steam.

Wenger also needs a plan to combat Yaya Toure being thrown into an attacking midfield role with half an hour to go if City aren't winning. He can be difficult to cope with when he concentrates on the attacking side of his game only. Arsenal have shown enough discipline in defence and central midfield so far to make me think they have what it takes to stop him.

I wasn't so sure about how good Podolski was going to be but I have been very impressed with him so far. He has three goals in five games from playing mostly in a wide left role and he looks like he has an awful lot to contribute this season. His attitude and strength are exactly what the team needed and things other players were accused of lacking in recent years for Arsenal.

I think Arsenal have enough firepower of their own to put the shaky City defence under pressure. I can see Arsenal scoring in this game and the outcome will depend on their defensive strength in my opinion. As a team they have defended very well this season and more of the same will do nicely against City.

If Arsenal do have the lead towards the end of the game it would be ideal for Theo Walcott to come on and exploit any space behind their defence. He still hasn't signed a new contract at the club and his first team chances seem to be suffering as a result. It would be a shame to see him leave on a free transfer next summer, but the team have shown they are not suffering without him so far this season.

I'm sure Walcott will get a chance to start a game when Arsenal play Coventry City in a midweek Capital One Cup game. There are a few other players who need a run out too and I'm sure the fringe players will be happy to get an opportunity to show what they can do. A look at the Arsenal bench today should be a pointer towards the starting team against Coventry.

With Manchester United traveling to Liverpool there is an opportunity for Arsenal to possibly go second in the table by beating City. They then play Chelsea at home next week and in an ideal world they would beat them too to take over at the top of the table It's probably an unlikely scenario but the way the team have played so far it's certainly not an unbelieveable one.

Of course a defeat against City would be no disgrace for Arsenal, but I don't think they will lose. I'm predicting a 2-1 win for Arsenal and hoping a victory will lay down a marker for the rest of the season. There's a long way to go but a victory against City would make others sit up and take notice of what this Arsenal team could possibly do.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

1 comment: