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Arsenal Vs City PL Match Preview

Finally, the new season begins.

 

Finally, the new Arsenal era begins.

 

Unai Emery’s first step in his Gunners journey to take the club back to the top of the game sees perhaps his toughest test of the season – against Champions Manchester City.

 

Emery has acted early in his efforts to fill the gaps in the squad, with five signings early in the window, and those signings may well be involved in some capacity, if our pre-season results are anything to go by.

 

That’s the kicker – for the first time in quite some time, we have no idea what formation or lineup Arsenal will have before they kickoff – and it’s mighty refreshing.

 

Emery has a hell of a task to get off to a winning start, but if there is a right time to play City, it is right now.

 

Unai-Emery-to-Arsenal-963894

 

With a host of their players either only just returning, or still on leave after their World Cup efforts, they will have a mixture of a weak and tired team, and they will be far from their strongest.

 

Still, a point would be good enough, especially as this is Emery’s first proper game in charge.

 

Let the games begin!

 

Team News

 

Emery will be unable to call upon club captain Laurent Koscielny until at least December, and Sead Kolasinac is out for around ten weeks. In terms of other injuries, Nacho Monreal has returned to first team training, but will not be risked, with Emery declaring in his first press conference that youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles will be given the job of holding down the left flank. Aaron Ramsey should be fit for the game.

 

In terms of who makes the team, who knows? If Emery is looking to keep it tight and hit on the break, then Lichtsteiner will be preferred to Bellerin. Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis look to be the preferred pairing in the centre, with AMN coming in on the left.

 

In midfield, Matteo Guendouzi has impressed, and Lucas Torreira will most likely be eventual first choice defensive midfielder, but both will be an outside bet of making the eleven. Guendouzi’s lack of experience will cost him, although a spot on the bench is still testament to how good he is and how highly he is rated. Lucas Torreira has not been in training for long enough to be a guaranteed start, so it could well be last season’s pairing of Ramsey and Xhaka – but Xhaka should benefit from a much clearer idea of his role this season.

 

We have an embarrassment of riches up top, but it is unclear who will play after some heavy rotation by Emery in pre-season. Most likely will be that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be a wide forward, with Lacazette playing as a more traditional number 9, both being supplemented by the able talents of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil.

 

City will have the force of Aguero and Jesus available, and both Silva’s should be able to be called upon, although Mahrez should get the nod too, with Sterling still unavailable.

 

Pep has only signed Mahrez thus far, but his squad was already filled with talent, so a heavy recruitment drive was never on the cards. They will arrive at The Emirates with a gameplan, and we need to apply Emery’s instructions to the letter if we are to succeed.

 

We lost emphatically on three occasions to City last season, as we stumbled to 6th place and lost in the League Cup final. Things are a little different now, and we should at least provide a stiffer test than what we produced back then.

Let’s embrace the unknown!

 

Fingers crossed the Emery Era begins with a bang – and 3 points! UTA

 

Predicted Lineup – Leno, Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Mustafi, AMN, Xhaka, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette

 

Predicted Scoreline – 2-2

Arsenal Vs Manchester City – PL Match Preview

With the Carabao Cup final humbling still fresh in the memory, the perfect fixture to erase those nightmarish visions is……Manchester City.

The display that our team put in as we were taken apart by Pep Guardiola’s men seems to have resonated more than most defeats – and we’ve had a fair few this season.

Seven to be exact. This year.

Gary Neville’s comments especially, during and after the match, have struck a chord as they were what most were thinking. Why did our players show such an insipid level of effort? Why were none busting a gut? Did none of them recognise this was a cup final?

So, today’s game at The Emirates is far from what we needed. What we need is a win. Then another, And then another. The chances of us winning against City are low, and with us being ten points of spurs who are in 4th spot, two defeats at the hands of the blue half of Manchester could sound the death knell of any prospective success, and condemn us to our worst ever season under Wenger.

Wenger opted for three at the back in the Cup Final,which was suggested by many before the game. We also had Wilshere and Ramsey in the same team for the first time in quite some time.

Surely he has to change the approach? But does that mean the players in the eleven?

Anyone who watched the travesty on Sunday can concur that it wasn’t the choice of personnel that was the problem. It was our strongest side and should be enough of a match to give us a shout.

The problem was the application of any form of tactic. We lost possession frequently, we didn’t pressure their possession strongly enough, and we looked absolutely clueless when we did have the ball.

The first thing we need to do is actually put in a modicum of effort instead of hoping our play will suffice. Without effort, the result is what we saw at Wembley.

There will be changes in the side, although they will be enforced. Nacho Monreal looks to be ruled out for this game and the trip to the Amex Stadium, possibly longer. That means if we stay with three at the back, we’ve got less central defensive options, but Sead Kolasinac is primed for the left-back spot.

What about central midfield though? Granit Xhaka is a cultured midfielder, but he is no DM. He seems unable to track any runners, but if he starts, then he really must learn. Alternatively, we have Mohamed Elneny to fill in.

Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are both fit, but fitting them both into the team may require one of them to play in the attacking three behind Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck are viable options to play, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is back in the team after being cup-tied on Sunday.

Pep has to deal with Fernandinho being unavailable, so Ilkay Gundogan will have a new partner in midfield. this could play into our hands if our engine room kicks into life. City may have Raheem Sterling back after being ruled out on Sunday, and Gabriel Jesus is back from a knee injury.

If we are to avoid catastrophe this season, we need to go on a run, and there’s no better time to start than now. We know we’re capable, it’d just be good to see us show it for once. We have a great record at The Emirates, let’s keep it going. #UTA

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Elneny, Wilshere, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Aubameyang

Predicted Scoreline – Let’s do this, 2-1 to The Arsenal

Who is the best backup in the business?

There are many credentials required in order to be classed as a true contender in football.

The majority of heavyweights who slug it out on the European stage normally have a wealthy benefactor, a half-decent pedigree and a squad peppered with talent.

It is the squad though, that perhaps best underlines the strength of a club. When an outfit hopes to fight on all fronts, they must rely on their lesser lights in order to remain relatively unscathed.

When Manchester United won the treble, they had four strikers who would have graced the majority of Europe’s top teams. Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke were a lethal combo, and Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer provided a steady stream of goals.

When we won the Double in 2002, we had Thierry Henry – the greatest player in Europe -, the genius of Dennis Bergkamp, the efficiency of Sylvain Wiltord and the unpredictability of Nwankwo Kanu to fall back on.

These teams could boast such a huge array of striking talent to keep teams guessing and on the back foot, and this all happened nearly two decades ago.

They do provide a good yardstick though.

Do clubs now have the same depth that their more illustrious past brethren had?

United have Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford as their two preferred attacking options. Now the sole striker formation is far more conventional than it was back in 1999 and 2002, it places less emphasis on needing four strikers. United still need backup though, and in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they seem well armed on that front.

Our team is far weaker than during our golden generation. Now we have an adept and skilled Alexandre Lacazette, with a soon departing Alexis able to slot in to the forward line when the need arises. Our backup is Olivier Giroud, and the Frenchman has gone from ridicule to lavish praise during his Arsenal career.

I think it’s safe to say that we all appreciate how good Olivier is, and what a sterling job he’s done since finding a starting spot hard to maintain.

Who has the best backup though? Does Ibrahimovic have the edge now as well as having the far bigger trophy cabinet? Or does Olivier win it by a nose thanks to his lesser years?

This season has seen Olivier Giroud become the most prolific substitute for Arsenal, and he has bagged four goals thus far, compared to Zlatan’s none. It is worth mentioning that Giroud has played 276 more minutes than his Swedish opponent.

It is last season though, that is telling.

Zlatan played double the amount of minutes than Giroud did, as he was United’s main man last season before Lukaku came onto the scene. Yet Zlatan only bagged five more goals than Giroud did, scoring 17 to 12. He also only grabbed two more assists than the Frenchman.

Giroud was also more efficient in front of goal, with 59 percent shot accuracy compared to Zlatan’s 55 percent, and a superior aerial duel success rate.

So, it seems clear that despite a lack of minutes, Giroud can hold his head high and claim that he is indeed worthy of a start. Will that be elsewhere rather than at The Emirates though?

His situation is different to Zlatan’s. The tall Swede is in his twilight years and even though he hasn’t lost his effectiveness thanks to an excellent level of fitness, he realises his time at a top club may be on the wane. Zlatan could still do a fantastic job at most clubs.

Ibrahimovic has had one of the most glittering careers. League titles in France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. His goalscoring record even at United is in keeping with his record elsewhere – 28 goals in 46 apps. Follow www.betfy.co.uk/ for more.

Giroud has never been as effective in front of goal as Ibrahimovic, but in terms of being an effective team player, then he’s every bit as valuable as the one that refers to himself in the third person.

Arsenal Vs Man United Match Preview

So, it’s time for another round of Arsenal versus United.




This game has been the poster boy for the Premier League for decades. It may have tumbled down the pecking order a little in recent years with the surfacing of Chelsea and City, but it matters no less to us fans.


Now, there is also the added bonus of inflicting misery on Jose Mourinho – who doesn’t want to do that?


Both teams are in form. United have won four of their last six – their losses were against Chelsea and Huddersfield – and they lie in second spot, four points above us before the game.


We have won four on the bounce since our loss to City, and have conceded precisely zero. That is the key to any confidence we carry into this game. Our defence has been exemplary and the trio of Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal are really acting as a unit.


They will need to when facing Lukaku, Pogba and Rashford.


They possess very different traits, so we will be stretched. Our midfield has to be awake to the runs of Pogba, so the improved showings of Ramsey and Xhaka is crucial to our hopes.


In terms of who makes the team, our fantastic 5-0 win over Huddersfield in midweek came at a cost. Alexandre Lacazette was subbed at half time due to a groin injury, and he may be ruled out for the foreseeable. Seeing as December is crammed full of fixtures, he could miss a fair amount of games.


Step forward Olivier Giroud. He scored two in the second half of our 5-0 smashing of the Terriers, and he will need to be at his best against United.


We were all surprised when Wenger named a full team for the Huddersfield win. We all expected a few changes to prepare for this match, but Wenger opted to maintain rhythm and an unchanged side, aside from the inclusion of Ozil.


Now, the argument must be made that if players can’t maintain levels for three games in eight days, then the level of professional sportsmen they claim to be must be called into doubt. On the other hand, this is arsenal, and fitness is no god-given right.


Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott are both available for inclusion, and Jack Wilshere will be hoping his positive cameo against the Terriers will do his stake no harm.


United have a wealth of options in attack, with Rashford, Ibrahimovic, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Lukaku and Lingard all vying for a limited number of spots. Jose will have his defence drilled though. Away from home against a rival, he will have his team set up not to lose, rather than all out to win. Professional, pragmatic, but bloody boring.


We are still unbeaten at home, and we need to continue that if we are to keep the pressure on the top3 – and keep the gap between us and that lot down the road.


Predicted Lineup – Cech, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.


Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

Ozil criticism unfair – and here is the proof

Mesut Ozil marginalises every group of football fan. There hasn’t been a wider spectrum of thought on a player since Nicklas Bendtner’s own views and everyone else’s.

Ozil continues to generate headlines and it would seem that a mere mention of his name garners response levels sufficient to sate even the most demanding of editor. A large portion of what is written and said is of course clickbait – but there is no smoke without fire – right?


Mesut’s languid body language is like catnip to those who lambast the playmaker continuously. Head dipped, refusal to fluster and his lesser-heard raised voice contrasts to the blood and thunder that is demanded from many.


It makes you a winner. Veins popping, whites of the eyes dappled with burst blood vessels, clenched fists aplenty. These are classic signs of a winner, and Mesut Ozil is a stranger to these.


Ozil IS a winner though. He knows better than anyone it is what you do on the pitch that makes the difference, and he concerts all of his effort into enabling his team.


The consensus will probably continue to haunt Ozil simply because he is rarely seen roaring at teammates and plunging into rash tackles.


There is an agenda against our number 11, and one fact highlights this better than any words I can type.








After ten games in the Premier League, Manchester City sat top of the league and with breathing space between them and the chasing pack. They had +29 goal difference, and they made their best start to a Premier League season in their history. Nine wins and one solitary draw.


A lot of the plaudits were doled out to Kevin De Bruyne. The ginger genius had laid on chances with high frequency and teammates, his manager and pundits were gushing at the mention of the Belgian’s name.


Meanwhile, Mesut Ozil had been battered from pillar to post by most.  A portion of Gooners, journalists and experts wanted more from him.


Arsenal were in 5th spot, and had six wins, one draw and three defeats from their ten games, with a +6 goal difference. A large disparity between City’s record and Arsenal’s. City had DeBruyne firing on all cylinders and had been backed to become one of the world’s best players on the back of his performances – and Ozil had been heckled.


Yet, both had created exactly the same amount of chances – both were top of the rankings in terms of chances set up.









Ozil and DeBruyne had crafted 30 clearcut chances for their teammates in ten games. Three each game.


So how can Ozil be panned as a waste of a player in a team, and DeBruyne hailed as a marvel – perhaps the best in the League?


They are both players in the team to do a job. The same job. From the numbers, it appears as if both are doing it better than anyone else in the Premiership. Yet Ozil continues to be ridiculed for failing his team, and DeBruyne is the exact opposite.


These numbers show that Ozil is every bit as good as most of us Gooners know he is. We have dispelled the myth that he is lazy before – he covers more ground than most – and now we can put to bed the notion that he makes no chances.


What will we have to put right next? Mesut Ozil is a fantastic player. He starts moves from deep and keeps his presence in the intricate passing throughout. He is always on the ball.



Hopefully this article will get an airing and some of the more obtuse Ozil-bashers can admit that they were wrong.

Man City Vs Arsenal – Preview of Mission Implausible

We all know this is going to be a tough nut to crack. Manchester City have the best offence and second best defence this season in terms of goals scored and conceded. They also have nine wins and one draw from ten league games.




Then we have our team. One away win this season from our league games and some wildly varying performances have left us guessing about what team will show up from one game to the next. We can eviscerate teams with our attack like we did against Everton, or we can be completely insipid and act like a doormat like we did against Liverpool.


It is our average performances that we need to concentrate on. They also provide us with very little ability to predict. We have our strangely shocked display when we lost to Watford where we seemed unable to comprehend our opponent fighting back. Then we have games like Swansea last week where we didn’t play well but our tenacity rose to the surface.


We will need that in buckets if we are to escape from The Eitihad with anything.


Another thing we will need is positional discipline. Our team will be allowed to play if they can avoid the press of City. We must remember to avoid going all-out like we have a propensity to do, and thus leave us open for City’s lightning forward line.


Our full-backs must be switched on when roaming forward and have their counterparts position in their mind at all times. So it is great news we will have Sead Kolasinac fit and ready for this game after injuring his hip last week.


Manchester City will most likely recall David Silva and Gabriel Jesus after resting them against Napoli. Jesus played a cameo but he will be refreshed and could partner Sergio Aguero up top. then they have the mercurial Spaniard Silva attacking from midfield with Kevin DeBruyne and Raheem Sterling. Then they have Leroy Sane if they can find room in their team, who has played his part in 11 goals in his last seven games.


Whew, that is one hell of a task for our defence. We have shown we can keep it tight at times, but this stern examination will be our toughest test this season.


We have a great record against City recently. They have just one win in the last nine games against us, and we have scored twice in eight of our last ten games against them.


This game will have goals, and plenty of them. City have 21 goals in five home games so far. Quite a scary stat for us. City also managed the most passes ever recorded since Opta Stats began, in their win over West Brom last week. Both teams own the highest averages of possession so far this season too.


We do have a potent attack ourselves, although it is easy to forget when you look at City this season. Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez can really hurt Pep Guardiola’s men, but they will need to be on fire if we are to grab all three points.


In terms of injuries, Santi Cazorla, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers and Danny Welbeck are ruled out of the game.


Optimism can be found when we look to our better performances. Ignorance is the best option when we look at our failings. Let us try and enjoy what is bound to be a match filled with goalmouth action.


Predicted Lineup – Cech, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Ozil, Alexis, Lacazette.


Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

Arsenal Vs Man Utd – Match Preview

Kickoff – 1600GMT

Before our humbling at the hands of our North London neighbours last weekend, the situation was clear;

Win the rest of our games or the lucrative and vital Top4 slot is out of our grasp.

Now, our team stand on the precipice of our worst season under Arsene Wenger. To make matters worse, he next faces a manager who he has never defeated in the Premier League.

Tomorrow’s match versus Manchester United now leaves us with the daunting reality that we could win the rest of our games and still be barred from entering the VIP section that is Champions League qualification. 

Five games remain in our league campaign, and all five must be victories. We then must sit on the edge of our seats and wait for Liverpool, City and United to slip up. The way things are right now, this is quite easily our worst season. 

So, how do we defeat United and salvage any semblance of hope?

Firstly, United have a huge task in fielding a competitive team that isn’t suffering from fatigue or injury. After defeating Celta Vigo in Spain on Thursday, Jose Mourinho has intimated that he may rest some of his first teamers as the Europa League takes priority. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Ashley Young ruled out through a combination of injury and suspension, and Marcus Rashford looking to be in pain when he was substituted on Thursday, Mourinho will surely ring the changes. 

Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney may well be part of his plans and so too should be Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. The England pair were thought to be injured, but it has been revealed that they will be in the squad for the game. 

Arsene Wenger will also have his own players returning from injury, with David Ospina and Shkodran Mustafi both back in training. Will the German defender’s return to action see Wenger shift back to a back four? Or will we continue with the Back 3 experiment? The jury is out in regards to fan’s opinion, but no one can predict what Wenger will go with. 

A big dilemma is what our midfield will look like for this game. In his last press conference, Wenger said that Granit Xhaka only has a ‘little chance of playing.’ That leaves Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny to fight it out for the two spots, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has impressed since playing as a wing-back in our new formation. 

A lot will depend on Alexis. The Chilean has been responsible for keeping our slim hopes alive, but his record versus the big boys leaves a lot to be desired. He has just one goal in the last nine games against the teams above us, and Sanchez must finally show everyone what he can do against top class opposition – even if it is to entice another team.

United have won the last four games that have followed Europa League games, so they will be prepared. They will also come to the Emirates well drilled and hard to break down. We must utilise pace and movement and abandon the plodding, sedate passing of more recent seasons. We must find the Arsenal of old if Arsene Wenger is to finally vanquish Mourinho and Arsenal are to keep up the chase. 

Twenty four games it has been since United tasted defeat. It is going to take an almighty effort for that to be broken, but break it we must. The least we expect is effort. 

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Ramsey, Gibbs, Theo, Ozil, Alexis

Predicted Scoreline – Screw it – 2-0 to The Arsenal #UTA

Arsenal Vs Manchester City – The Match Warm-Up

An international break is normally not welcomed by fans, but last weeks hiatus from Arsenal was a relief for most.

Two wins in the last seven games – and those were earned against non-league opposition – has seen the sharks circling around the club, smelling blood. With Arsene Wenger still to declare his future and our best players assessing their options, our slide down the table has taken something of a back seat.

The Premier League is back today though, and tomorrow sees our league position put in the balance as we take on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

With Everton playing before us, we could well be in 7th place before we take to the pitch, and with our opponents already seven points ahead of us, there really seems no other viable alternative but victory if we are going to kickstart our rise up the table. No more false starts. No more underwhelming displays. Anything less than 100% will see us defeated again and eating the Top 6’s dust. 

We have some injuries to contend with as well as the crippling lack of confidence that is rife through our squad. Petr Cech suffered a calf injury in our last game, so David Ospina will take the gloves for this game. Lucas Perez is another who will miss out – although even when fit he doesn’t play – but Mesut Ozil is expected to come back into the side after a reported back injury.

City will still be without starlet Gabriel Jesus after he broke his metatarsal, but with Sergio Aguero in their squad, it’s not as if the Brazilian’s absence will be heavily felt. They may have to do without playmaker Kevin DeBruyne as well, but their strength in depth is one of the best in the league, and with David Silva in their team, they will not be impacted too much.

The Gunners have lost their last two Premiership games 3-1 – Liverpool and West Brom were the opponents – and the players on show during these games were far from at their best. Lacking fight and verve, they have been ripped apart at times. The West Brom game was particularly damning. Seventy percent of possession and just two shots on target tells everyone that something is missing. At times we made look the Baggies look like world-beaters, and top of the agenda must be arresting this awful run.

Next up would be sorting out an established midfield. Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka have all been rotated, used with other players and there has been a distinct lack of gelling. A run of games for a prospective pairing must start soon if we are to start climbing up the table.

We have plenty of options in attack for this game, and Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck will be fighting to start the game. Alexis Sanchez is a surefire start – even though his ankle was in dubious condition before he played two games for Chile – but whether he will go on the left of attack and leave the striker berth for Olivier or Danny is up for discussion. With City’s backline their one obvious weakness, a correct selection could well be the difference between defeat and victory.

We must get back on track – and now. The room for error is now gone, it’s time to show our pedigree.

Predicted lineup – Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Xhaka, Walcott, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck

Predicted Scoreline – Screw it, I’m going for a 2-1 win for us. 

Man City 2-1 Arsenal: 5 Key Points 

The cliche ‘ it’s a game of two halves’ was made for this game, as we followed the description to the letter.

The problem is, it was the same description as our previous match – the midweek loss to Everton by the same score.

The first half of both matches was positive, especially versus City. Our front press divided their backline to great effect, but yet again we failed to maximise our superiority. We should have gone in to the break in both games with a two goal advantage.

Then, the second half showed the other side of Arsenal still exists; the side that is still the undoing of them. We failed to adapt to the changes movement of Sane and De Bruyne, and within two minutes of the restart, they were level. 

Our second half showing was so dire we went from being so dominant to not having a shot in anger. Our press was rudderless and Pep’s side were utterly rampant.

On these two showings, we still have some work to do before even thinking we can catch Chelsea. 
Here are 5 pointers as to where it fell apart:
Dropping too deep

Our press in the first half didn’t give Kolarov, otamendi and co any time to build, and we harried them into mistakes. The second forty-five was the exact contrast. They passed around us and the urgency from our play had gone. We also only started to close down when they entered our final third. It was to our cost. 
Fitness an issue? 

The second half was the culprit for this second loss, just as it was against Everton. The abject running, no dynamism, it appeared as if the majority of our players were running on empty. Are they tired? They are going through a fixture list just as congested as the other CL competing teams, why do we look so jaded?
Sanchez can’t do it on his own

Alexis once again showed his superhuman stamina, and he implored his team mates to follow suit time and time again. He was the spark for the goal, and about ninety percent of our goalshave involved the Chilean. It is high time someone else at least lightened the load a little. Theo and Mesut have good figures, but during the whole game, we need more.
We are giving it away

Both losses, the opponent have been on the chopping block, waiting for the blade to come down. We have had them in our grasp and it is only our weakening grip which has allowed them the wriggle room they need. What about when we face a team that is actually in form?
Cech is off the boil



No clean sheet now in eight games for Petr, the longest run he’s suffered in his career. He may not have been at fault for the first, but he was beaten at his near post by Sterling, which he should’ve kept out. He still pulls out saves that keep us in the game, but that consistent barrier which has been the bane of so many teams is flickering. He’ll get it back. 
There was more to point out from the game of course; Gabriel is doing a half-decent job but he is no Mustafi, Xhaka and Coquelin are working hard but they must try harder to link play, and Iwobi looked bright but must try to avoid switching off when it’s time to track back. 

We need to forget about Chelsea for now. We must forge a gap again between us and tottenham, City and Liverpool. We have to concentrate on closing out games.

We MUST win our next game. 

Next up – West Brom at home.

Manchester City Vs Arsenal: The Warm-Up

For some it was a mild malady that can be easily remedied with a victory, but for others, it was a stark symptom of the deficiencies that run through the team. 

Regardless of what our loss to Everton underlined, tomorrow’s match at The Etihad against title rivals Manchester City doesn’t require more riding on the result – for either team.

Arsenal slipped up for only the second time in the league with the 2-1 reverse at Goodison in midweek, and the dropped points were compounded when all the teams in the mix at the top of the table took three points. It served to embolden how tough this league at the cutting edge really is, and also highlighted what high standards must be maintained in every single fixture.

These standards will be the least that is needed to overcome Pep Guardiola’s City side, who will be expected to pick up the points at home, and get back on track their own bid which has been waylaid recently with some erratic results.

For Arsene Wenger, he would’ve liked an easier fixture to restore some confidence, but sometimes the toughest tests bring out the best in teams, and this match will see some titanic match-ups.

Wenger will have the majority of his squad to call upon, but the longer term absentees in Per Mertesacker, Santi Cazorla and Danny Welbeck are still unavailable – although Welbeck is a week away from first team training, which is a massive boost for the team. Aaron Ramsey and Shkodran Mustafi will both be sidelined also. Gabriel will once again stand in for Mustafi, and our midfield will be comprised of two from Coquelin, Elneny and Xhaka. 

Ilkay Gundogan severely injured his troublesome knee in City’s midweek win over Watford, and he looks to be out for the season. Guardiola is also bereft of Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho and Kompany, through suspension and injury respectively. It leaves the Spanish boss with a need to shuffle, rather than rotate through a well packed squad. Their defence comprised of three defenders who were not centre-backs against Watford, but they will be boosted by the return of Nicolas Otamendi, and he will partner John Stones in defence.

The Citizens have been weak in defence, and Claudio Bravo has not aided this. His uncertainty and errors have been cause for concern, and aerially is an area that Arsenal could find gold. Our strongest threat in the air is Olivier Giroud but it looks as if the Frenchman will be on the bench. Giroud has a great record against City, and he has scored in his last four appearances against the blue half of Manchester.

We have plenty of options to attack City, but one bone of contention is who should be our starter on the left of attack? Alex Iwobi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have both thrown down markers, but in recent weeks, The Ox has begun to show Gooners that one elusive skill he has never obtained – consistency. Whoever starts, they will have to go for the jugular from the outset, as we all know what happens when Arsenal give their opponents the opportunity to dictate play.

The Gunners have enjoyed a good record in this fixture – unbeaten in six – and must look to take all points, especially as spurs and United have both done the same thing this season. Chelsea will play today and if they extend their winning run, they will be a huge nine points above us before we play. It is mandatory we shrink that gap.

Petr Cech is one who will be vital to our hopes, and he will be more than aware that he has failed to keep a clean sheet for seven games – he has never gone eight games without a shut out. The Czech has not shown any poor form, but a top drawer Cech can be a huge difference and he will need to be in great form to keep out Sterling, Iheanacho, De Bruyne and Silva.

Before every Premier League game, the ramifications for defeat are discussed and what is clear is that we cannot afford to drop points. It is inevitable we will, but when we do slip up, it cannot snowball into a larger malaise. 

We have slipped against Everton, but this is the perfect opportunity to get back on track and remind everyone that our credentials this term are far stronger than before. The same goes for our widemen, who were pretty anonymous and must exert their influence more on the game. 

I fancy us for the win. Pep does not do defensive football, and both teams will go toe-to-toe. Both defences are missing key personnel and it will be down to who is sharpest in attack. 

In that department, we enjoy a smidgin of superiority this season. Let us hope we show it in this game.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 Arsenal

Predicted Lineup: Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Coquelin, Walcott, Ozil, The Ox, Sanchez.