Gameweek 5 is upon us and Arsenal continue to impress at home and in Europe. Last weekend saw a dominant performance from the Gunners, dismantling a poor Southampton side at the Emirates. A host of impressive individual performances, added to an emphatic 6-1 score line, is just the sort of confidence boost we need heading up to the North-West on Sunday. Arsenal haven’t only succeeded in the Premier League this week either. A tense 2-1 victory in Montpellier against the French Champions enabled Arsenal to start their Champions League campaign on the right foot, with 3 points on the board.
All the good work over the past week is now behind us, time to look forward to Sunday and a visit to our rich friends up north, Manchester City. We all know what quality they possess and, of course, they are the current holders of the Premier League crown but they did suffer a setback in Europe this week. A gruelling encounter with Madrid, at the Bernebeau, saw City pegged back twice by the Spanish Champions and beaten 3-2. This is sure to be a blow to City and, who knows, maybe it could swing the tie in our favour.
Manchester City – Arsenal
The Etihad Stadium
My Prediction 1-1
As ever, I will be taking into consideration the fitness of players, taken from both http://www.physioroom.com and Arsene’s press conference. So, yeah, here we go…
Arsenal Starting XI and Formation
Looks like Wojciech has been ruled out for up to 3 weeks by Arsene, something that should have been announced last week, in my opinion. It was obvious to see that he wasn’t comfortable at the Emirates last week and he should not have been rushed back. Vito will be sure to come in and, as Arsene mentioned, this is a big opportunity for the Italian. A good run of form could have Don Vito staking a claim for the number 1 shirt.
The defence conceded a goal on Saturday, finally! But it was, all in all, a good performance from the back line, once again. The full-backs have been ever-present and have had other Arsenal players singing their praises. Two young lads, both Arsenal through and through. It’s a real pleasure to see the both of them performing at the very top of their game. Let’s all hope it continues. As for the centre backs, Wenger has stuck with Mertesacker and Vermaelen throughout this season, even with Kosh coming back from an injury, I just wonder whether the pace that City possess in the final third could mean the swap is finally made. Merty’s real weakness is his pace and against the likes of Aguero, Tevez, etc he may struggle. Saying this, his height and aerial ability could prove important, as ever, at set plays, especially with the threats of Yaya Toure and Kompany from set-piece situations. I hope he sticks with it, Merty has earned his spot.
I think that Wenger will look to stick with the same system, as ever, in the midfield. The inclusion of Diaby, who was unavailable for the Saints game, will be a massive boost to the side. If he can produce something like the performance up in Anfield then he we will have one hell of a battle on our hands – Yaya Toure vs Abou Diaby. It will be a real test for Abou and a real chance for him to prove how much of a good player he really is. You can expect that City will not be giving him as much time on the ball as Liverpool did, so it will be interesting to see just how he cope against such a talented midfield. Although I have, pretty much, penned in Diaby to start, this is no discredit to Le Coq as he was brilliant last week. I just don’t think Wenger will want to drop such an in-form player. The Yaya battle is one to be savoured too! Partnering him will be, most certainly, Mikel Arteta. Almost faultless in his vision and dictating of tempo, you do not need many hands to count the misplaced passes this guy makes every week. A real class act and a joy to watch.
Another comparison that will be drawn on Sunday will be between the two Spanish dynamos – Santi and David Silva. Santi has taken the league by storm, having all football fans singing his praises. This is very similar to the reaction that David Silva got when he arrived from Valencia in 2010. Both magnificent footballers and will be sure to have an impact on the end result.
This is a tricky one as it really depends on who Arsene decides to play up top. Assuming that he keeps his faith in Giroud (which I hope he does), I think we will see Gervinho and Podolski on either flank. Both players have been outstanding so far this season, both with a couple of goals in the league already. Each of the wingers got on the score sheet vs Montpellier in midweek, proving just how hot these two players are right now, home and away. The strength and explosiveness of Podolski was typified by a splendid free-kick last week and he will be sure to take the game to City on Sunday. Gervinho’s out and out wing play approach, looking to beat his man whenever possible, is something that frustrates fans at times but, when in form, he can prove very effective. Other options include AOC and Walcott, both being very useful as substitutes and will sure feature at some point.
What more can we say about Oliver Giroud? With Giroud struggling to find the net yet, OG is up there as this season’s joint top scorer (think about it). Let’s be honest. The Frenchman has shown great positional play and has got himself into promising positions. I would be more upset if he has gone through these last few games, anonymous. Ok, so the last time out we won 6-1 and the ex-Montpellier man didn’t feature for much of it. No need to draw conclusions. I would like to think that if Giroud started the game, he would have got in amongst the fun too. I do think that Wenger will stick with it and start him against City. What better place to open your Arsenal account than away to the Champions?
Possible Manchester City Starting XI and Formation
As mentioned before, City suffered a last-minute defeat away to Real Madrid in Europe this week. It is sure to affect the morale of the side but I still do not think this will have much of an impact on the Champions. So much quality runs through the team and the inclusion of Aguero could give a real boost to the side. An injury earlier in the season threatened to keep the Argentinian out for a long spell but, luckily for City, there was no serious damage on the knee and he should feature Sunday. Another key player in the tie will sure to be Joe Hart who, in my opinion, is one of the finest goalkeepers in the world right now. He showed just how much it meant to him to lose against Madrid, you can be sure he won’t want to see his team give up the 3 points again this weekend.
This is, arguably, Arsenal’s first real test this season and it will show whether Arsenal are serious contenders for the title this year or just making up the numbers. This is the ideal time to face City – us in top form, off the back of some great results and City faltering in Europe, it should prove to be quite the contest
There you go, the nerves are starting to set in. A Super Sunday with the Arsenal on is always the making of any weekend, one in which we face the Champions, perfect!
Finally, up the Arsenal and may the good form carry on through this weekend! COME ON YOU GUNNERS!