Boom or bust for the Gunners now: Arsenal vs. Manchester City match preview
Match Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester City – Premier League – 02.04.2017
The international break is something I rarely welcome. I feel little to no affinity for either of my parent’s national teams nor those of my ancestors despite their frequent successes. However, the most recent international break came at the right time for Arsenal. The Gunners have cut dejected figures on the pitch for a couple of months now and their ignominious defeat to West Brom would have been a sucker punch.
A fortnight away from club football will have given the players time to regroup, refocus and catch their breath. However, returning to face Manchester City is not the sort of game they would have relished when in search of form. Although it could be argued that such a game gives the players nowhere to hide and no reason to underestimate the opposition.
Mesut Özil is fit again which will be a boost to Arsenal’s offence but Petr Cech has not recovered from his injury at West Brom and Arsène Wenger will have to rely on David Ospina who will want to put his performance at The Hawthornes behind him as quickly as possible. Although with the firepower City have it’s looking likely both teams will score and as Sunbets is growing fast with their £10 offers it’s worth checking the odds on a scoring draw.
Arsenal are not yet out of top four contention. Manchester United’s draw against West Brom yesterday has gifted Arsenal an opportunity to lift themselves up a spot on the table and put pressure on the teams above with their games in hand. A win today and in one of our games in hand against Southampton or Leicester would still put us one point behind Manchester City but winning the other as well would put us level on points with Liverpool.
Most of the top four have to play one another so whichever way you look at it Arsenal’s top four hope is still very much in their hands. Wenger’s side is in control of their own destiny as far as finishing fourth and winning the FA Cup is concerned, anything above fourth depends on some fortuitous results.
For the fans’ sake the minimum target now must be to finish above Tottenham and win the FA Cup. It would be unthinkable for Arsenal to finish outside of the Champions League spots yet anything less than a win today puts the Gunners in the unfortunate position of relying on other teams to falter. It’s boom or bust for Arsenal now. They have to win this game, finish in the top four and win the FA Cup. Anything less would be unconscionable for a team of this talent.
Arsenal’s main priority today has to be controlling the ball. City can be hurt on the counter as they have a tendency to falter in transitions but if the Citizens are allowed to dictate the game through the majority of possession then Arsenal could be left chasing shadows.
The manager’s pick at centre-forward will be interesting as both Giroud and Alexis have history at causing problems for City’s defence – which as it stands is quite suspect. I discussed the benefits of Alexis up top over Alexis on the wing this week on Arsenal Nation which you can watch here:
I advocated a hybrid in Danny Welbeck for the West Brom game which did not yield the expected result but I’ll do so again here. Danny’s physical presence will be a handful for City’s centre-backs but I am relying on his pace and directness to unsettle the City defence.
Should Arsenal command the lion’s share of the ball today then the combination of Welbeck, Alexis and Walcott as fast, mobile forwards should heap the pressure on City and potentially earn Arsenal a tight victory.
Arsenal (from): Ospina, Martinez, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Gibbs, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil, Walcott, Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi, Lucas, Alexis, Welbeck, Giroud.
“We didn’t create enough at West Brom and we are a team that likes to create chances. Incidentally we play against Man City this weekend and the two best teams in the final third are Arsenal and City, if you look at the numbers. So we want to come back to our strengths, and our strengths are to play.” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Manchester City 2-1 Arsenal (18.12.2016)
- Manchester City 2-2 Arsenal (08.05.2016)
- Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City (21.12.2015)
Manchester City are particularly dangerous from wide areas with the likes of Sterling and Leroy Sane. These players can be lethal and carve open defences single handed if given the right service. City’s main creator, De Bruyne may not start today’s match and his replacement is the none-less-talented David Silva. It is imperative that Arsenal’s central midfielders keep him quiet so as to starve the wide men of service and for Arsenal’s creator to outshine his opposite number.
City have had a mixed few weeks of results themselves yet they boast some of the league’s best attacking talent. Manager Pep Guardiola will demand that his players get on the ball and try to win in much the same way Arsenal will try to win. Ultimately this will be a battle of defences and it is City’s defence that should offer Arsenal encouragement. City’s ex-Arsenal full-backs are not the players they once were and can be got at with pace and with a potential central pairing of Alex Kolarov, Otamendi or Fernandinho in the offing Arsenal attackers should be quite confident of success.
- Despite recent form Arsenal have won 6 of their last 7 games at home.
- Man City have scored 2 goals or more in 8 of their last 10 away League games.
- Arsenal have managed 52 wins from the 85 meeting with City at home.
- City average 2.08 PPG when skipper Vincent Kompany plays, without him it’s just 1.14.
- Arsenal have lost just one of their 19 previous Premier League home matches against Manchester City (W12, D6).
- City are looking to do a league double over Arsenal for the first time since 1975-76.
- The last seven league meetings have produced 27 goals – an average of 3.86 per game.
- The Gunners have lost four of their last five Premier League games for the first time since April 1995.
- However, they have won six of their last seven home matches.
- This is only the second time in Premier League history that Arsenal have been outside the top five in April. The other was in 2006.
- Arsenal have taken only five points out of a possible 24 in matches against teams currently in the top seven.
- Alexis Sanchez has been involved in an unrivalled 27 Premier League goals this season, scoring 18 and providing nine assists.
- City have gone seven league games without defeat, their longest streak under Pep Guardiola (W4, D3).
- Manchester City have won their last three away games without conceding – they have only managed four in a row on one occasion, in the old Division Two in 1903.
- Guardiola has suffered five league defeats as Manchester City boss this season – he’s never lost six in a single league campaign as a manager.
- The Blues have won just four of their last 15 Premier League matches played on a Sunday (W4, D6, L5).
- City have conceded a league-low six goals from set pieces this season.
Courtesy of Opta & BBC Sport.
The optimist in me is going for a 2-1 win but given recent performances I think we’ll be fortunate to salvage a draw.
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