Sunday, 5 November 2017

Arsenal's Trip To Manchester City Previewed

After a fairly uninspiring 0-0 draw at hone to Red Star Belgrade on Thursday night it's back to the important stuff for Arsenal today when they travel to Manchester City. That draw on Thursday night was enough to put Arsenal through to the knock out stages with two games to spare and they did it without having to use any of their current first choice team. On the other hand City had to endure a tough fight away to Napoli in midweek when they had to play their strongest team.

Of course City did win that game 4-2 and they're though to the knockout stages of the Chamoions League as a result of that win. They're also sitting pretty on top of the Premier League with nine wins and a draw from their first 10 games and they already look like it will be almost impossible to stop them winning the league. They are the in form team in Europe at the moment and there probably isn't a team playing better than them or with more of a goal threat.

Arsenal haven't done well away to the rest of the six big clubs in the Premier League in a long time and we have been on the end of far too many pastings. Far too often Arsene Wenger has gotten his team and tactics completely wrong in these games and the latest case in point was the 4-0 defeat at Liverpool in August. However he did manage to do just the opposite when we visited Chelsea only a few weeks later and came away with a credible 0-0 draw.

Our chances today don't entirely rest on the manager's decisions though as the players have to find it within themselves to put in the performance required. Far too often their attitude has been all wrong and while you can get away with it sometimes against lesser teams you get punished by the better teams. City have already shown how lethal than are and they tend to put teams away when they have them on the ropes.

As good as City have been this season they did drop their only points at home to an Everton team who are not exactly doing well this season. Everton set out to frustrate City and they nearly took the three points, but they tired and City equalised late on. Everton were helped by being up against 10 men for all of the second half, but their example surely has to be the template for Arsenal today.

I would be very surprised if we don't see the same team as the one who beat Swansea 2-1 last week. With the players we currently have available that team is more or less our strongest team and the manager is more than likely to go with it. I don't think the midfield duo of Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka offers enough cover to our defence and those two players will have to be at their very best today.

Xhaka has developed a nasty habit of giving the ball away in the wrong place and City will punish us if he shows that slackness today. They are deadly on the break and their attacking options seem almost limitless at the moment. It is going to take 100 % concentration for every minute of the game to stop them and I'm not sure we can do that.

As good as City are they can be exposed at the back and we have the players who can do that. Alexis Sanchez could well be a City player next season and he is the man most likely to upset the apple cart today. If we can get enough of the ball to him and Mesut Ozil I think we will make the chances for Alexandre Lacazette and hopefully we can score some of them.

I have no doubt City will get their chances too, but we need to keep those chances to a minimum and probably ride our luck a little too. It is within the capabilities of these players to get a result today and anything other than a defeat today would be a great result. I'm not saying I'm confident of them doing that today as past experience has taught me some painful lessons with Arsenal. I've learned those lessons the hard way, but the problem with Arsenal seems to be the players and manager haven't learned those same lessons.

Our realistic aim for this season has to be a top four finish and the result of this game won't have too much beating on that I suppose, but the right result might give us the confidence we require to finish in the top four. We need big displays from our big players today and if they show up ready to go anything is possible. We have a very good recent record against City with only one defeat in the last nine games and it would be great to continue that run today however unlikely that might seem.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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