Preview: I will start this preview by quoting Roger Sterling from Mad Men. For those not familiar with this reference, it is a hit T.V show from USA and it has nothing to do with Football what so ever.
“You turned all the sizzle from Glo-coat into a wet fart”. – R. Sterling to Don Draper after his mysterious interview to a reporter.
Well, Arsenal turned all the sizzle from 7 consecutive wins into a wet fart against QPR. Everything about that game was below par; from the team selection, tactics, to the performances of every played on the pitch. The starting eleven didn’t turn up, the substitutes didn’t light anything up and Mr. Wenger didn’t really pull a rabbit out of his sleeve. Arsenal went behind twice in the game, and failed to complete the comeback they’ve recently become famous for. A wet fart it was eventually. Worryingly, the players didn’t seem to be up for the game. This was a complacent performance of the highest order. However, we need to move on from it very quickly, it was far from disastrous. We are still 3rd, still above Sp*rs, so damage wasn’t that great.
Despite that loss, Arsenal still are the form team in the league. Manchester City have had some mixed fortune lately. They have only 1 victory in the last 4 league game, which is considered a bit of a slump these days. They have lost a considerable lead they once held over their seasoned neighbours and now lie 5 points behind them. Both, Arsenal and Man City, need a victory much more than a draw, goes without saying. If Arsenal don’t win, they could fall back to 4th place behind Sp*rs; and if Man City don’t win, they would surely be out of the title race as they would fall behind 8 points to Man Utd (if MU win their match). Last week Man City saw their 100% home record come to an end, while Arsenal were jogging around casually at QPR. Sunderland went 3-1 ahead only for a late resurgence from the home team to draw 3-3. Some of their players look tired since the winter and it is beginning to show on the field. David Silva, the run-away player of the year candidate at the start of the season, hasn’t scored a goal for almost 4 months. His assists have dried up as well lately. It’s obvious he needs a rest as he isn’t accustomed to the heavy winter schedule in England. Mancini bought Samir Nasri from Arsenal, to step up at this very period. Samir has been anything but the player he promised to be at the start of last season at Arsenal. He has been limited to the bench for most of his career at Man City. He would be relishing a chance to dent Arsenal’s season, since, he’s been on the receiving end of some stick from Arsenal fans.
Team News: Nothing new at Arsenal, everyone who was available at QPR is available again. Long term injured players are still out; those are Wilshere, Mertesacker, Frimpong, Coquelin and yours truly Vassiriki Abou Diaby. I have to admit, even though, I’ve been his biggest fan, it is time for Arsenal to part ways with him. More important team news come from Man City’s end; Aguero might be fit to start tomorrow, following a mysteriously “stupid” injury. Samir had a knock but should start the game and Tevez could get a surprise call for the starting eleven. I hope that Wenger doesn’t deploy Ramsey or Rosicky on the left wing for this game. Gerv or Ox should get the nod for that position.
Key Battle: Theo vs. Clichy
Arsenal dominated their last 2 games with Man City but lost by a goal in both of them. It will be a tight affair again, this fixture last season ended 0-0 after a barrage of attacks from Arsenal early on. Arsenal have had majority of their attacks from the right hand side, so no surprise that Theo’s contribution will be key in this fixture. He will face his old friend and FIFA partner Clichy. If anyone can come close to catching up a blistering Theo, its Clichy. He’s one of the fastest LB in England, even if he’s not the smartest or the best defensively. This will be a very juicy battle to say the least.
Stats Zone: (www.whoscored.com)
Prediction: Arsenal haven’t beaten City since winning 3-0 away at beginning of last season. Man City have deployed some very defensive tactics against Arsenal and have scraped victories. With both teams needing 3 points badly, this should be a very open and fast paced game. Arsenal, being the form team, have the upper hand in this fixture. I predict an exciting 3-2 win for the Gunners tomorrow.
- There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Manchester City’s last 7 away games in Premier League.
- There have been over 2.5 goals scored in Arsenal’s last 5 home games in Premier League.
- Arsenal have seen under 2.5 goals in their last 5 home matches against Manchester City in all competitions.
- Arsenal have won their last 4 home matches in Premier League.
- Manchester City have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 6 matches against Arsenal in all competitions.
- Arsenal have scored at least 2 goals in their last 4 home matches in Premier League.
Lastly, a few words on the transfer rumors going around lately. No new developments have surfaced on Podolski front, it is widely believed that he will be an Arsenal player but nothing official has been announced. We’ve also been heavily linked with Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen, who according to his manager, is better than Vermaelen. Also linked to us is the French midfielder Yann M’Vila, who is endorsed heavily by ex-captain of France, Desailly. I will do a profile on both these players at some point. Podolski’s profile is already posted. So my question here is, if you could have only one of these 3 players next season, which one would you chose? My vote is for M’Vila even though I’ve seen only youtube videos and Song+Arteta are doing a good job. Share your thoughts