The boys were hard at training yesterday at the London Colney training base before jetting out to Manchester. Looking at them, it was evident that the disappointment of our midweek game against Everton has been banished. The Arsenal players were all smiles and went about their business with zip and zest. We lost ground but we lost no one to injury in a game where, as usual, the referee had a poor game.
Now Arsenal have a chance to remain within healthy distance from the top team if they can pull off a remarkable display and nick the whole three points at stake in Manchester. The team is well rested and must have been drilled about what’s at stake this evening. Win and the deficit is 6 points, lose and a chasm is opening up for real. The gunners face a Manchester team who are not at their best. They have their two best players (Aguero and Fernandinho)suspended and another member of their starting eleven (Gündolan) lost to injury. Hence there won’t be any better time to play Manchester City.
Arsène had this to say in his press conference;
The key to big games against City is to defend well together and not be timid every time you get the ball,” said Wenger.
“We have to have a go and try to attack, because that’s part of our philosophy. Overall that’s what you have to do but you have not to forget as well that City’s team is very strong going forward, maybe even more now with Pep Guardiola, so we certainly have to focus on defending well.
“I don’t know [why they’ve been inconsistent],” said Wenger. “Honestly, it’s not my main subject and preoccupation at the moment.
“I believe that in the Premier League every game is difficult and every game has its own difficulties and uncertainties and every game is a fight.
“The teams who are exposed in the Champions League, like they are, like we are, are a bit more exposed during this period because they played in midweek, we played in midweek as well at Basel.
“We’ve had three away games out of four. And I believe we paid a little bit the price at Everton like City must do sometimes when they go to a Premier League game, because everyone physically is at his top.
“[I expected] that Pep would bring his philosophy through and you have to accept that he tries to do that,” added the boss. “I respect the fact that he firstly has the philosophy and wants to play football that I respect. You expect him to put that print into his team.”
In reality, I agree with Wenger on that approach. Looking at how Manchester city like to play the high pressing game with a bunch of players not so suited to that style, and Pep’s insistence on his philosophy could all play into Arsène’s hands. First of all, it would be an insult for Pep to play a back 3 against Arsenal today. I expect him to do Just that. Secondly, it is very naive of Pep to try to play from the back with a goalie like Bravo and a defenders like John Stone. Letting go of Hart for a clown like Bravo was a colossal mistake. That will also play into Arsenal’s hands. Thirdly, in recent matches, they have struggled with creating clear cut chances which I expect to continue today, given that their main attacking threat is serving his suspension.
My last word on this match is that I expect Arsenal to win. It will be difficult, but if the boys can defend as a unit and break out on counters with intent to score, then Manchester City would not stand a chance this evening.
Here is to a win for Arsenal at the Etihad stadium. Let’s hope that the boys will turn up in style and turn the heat on Pep’s charges. COYG!!
-Fair Play Gooner