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Man City vs Arsenal: Premier League Preview: 14.12.13

Coming off of the back of a tough game and a rather subdued performance in Naples on Wednesday, Arsenal now faces arguably their toughest test of the season. Manchester City’s home form has been nothing short of marvellous as I’m sure you’re all aware, as it’s been highly documented so far this season. The Etihad has been a fortress and has been the location of notorious battering’s for every team that has set foot on that pitch. No team has gone to the Etihad this season and lost by less than 2 goals, except Bayern Munich who are the only team who has gone to the Etihad and come away with any points at all. In the 11 games played at the Etihad so far this season, Manchester City have scored a staggering 44 goals, that is an average of 4 goals per game *gulps*.

Anyway, no need to be fearful we’re not Spurs, neither are we Manchester United, who have both suffered humbling defeats this season at the Etihad. We’re going to be the best defensive side City will face at the Etihad this season and our record looks pretty good too. We have just conceded the 9 goals in 12 away games in all competitions so far this season, and we boast the best overall and away defensive record in the Premier League, conceding just 5 Premier League goals away from home.

Essentially the game on Saturday will be a battle between the best attack and the best defence. Of course a lot palms will be sweating over the fitness of Bacary Sagna, Wenger boosted our hopes of the Frenchman returning, but I think we all may have to brace ourselves for the possibility of Jenkinson playing. That may sound harsh on Jenkinson, but after all Sagna is the best RB in the League and coming up against a Nasri who is in his best form since leaving Arsenal in 2011, we need that reassuring figure at the back, and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Jenkinson makes me shit myself.

To highlight just how important Sagna is to this Arsenal team, we have only conceded 12 goals in the 19 games Sagna has started so far this season. Not too shabby ay!? Manchester City have their own defensive worries that we could possibly capitalise on. No Nastajic and no Clichy, the latter being more a blessing for City than a worry I’d imagine, but nevertheless I’m sure Pellegrini would see it as an injury concern.

Kompany has also just returned to fitness, and looked a tad off the boil against Munich and Stoke; hopefully we can get at him too. As for his partner, I’m not sure I could’ve picked a better opponent than for Giroud to play against; Demichellis really can be bullied and is most certainly the weakest link in that City defence. Despite City only conceding just 2 goals at home in the Premier League this season, with their depleted defence I’m not sure how much relevance that statistic has. 

Last Seasons Meetings

At the Etihad last season, Arsenal played quite well in a 1-1 draw with a late Koscielny goal cancelling out a first half Lescott opener. I think we will all take a 1-1 draw right now. The meeting at the Emirates saw Koscielny take centre stage once more as the Frenchman got sent off after 10 minutes as Arsenal succumbed to a 2-0 defeat.

Last 5 meetings

  • Arsenal 0-2 Man City
  • Man City 1-1 Arsenal
  • Arsenal 1-0 City
  • City 1-0 Arsenal
  • Arsenal 0-1 City

Wenger said in his pre match press conference that we have to make City feel like they're 'playing away from home'. After resting Ramsey against Napoli for the most part of the game and Arteta being sent off like the daft prat he acts like in Europe sometimes, I think it's pretty safe to say Arteta and Ramsey will be played in the middle.

I can also see Wilshere playing in that narrow wide man position, giving us that extra man in the middle to combat that Fernandinho and Toure midfield. An argument could be made for starting Flamini, but I think Arteta could do a better job at breaking up the play and keeping Aguero out of the game than Flamini. The possession will inevitably be in the majority for City, which would not be entirely surprising for us as this season we've allowed the opposition possession at home and away this season, playing quite effectively on the counter.

However City are a different kettle of fish, we need to be careful not to give them too much possession, sometimes soaking up too much pressure means the sponge can become ineffectual, we need to make sure we're posing a constant threat on the counter and for that reason alone I would start Theo. Theo is the best outlet we have on the counter attack, his blistering speed could push Kolarov back and scare the life out of Demichellis. Pushing Kolarov back could minimise the threat of Negredo slightly, as he is an absolute menace in the air and Kolarov provides a fantastic delivery. I suppose the use of Walcott could all depend on whether Sagna is fit, if Sagna is assessed and is not fit enough to start, then I'm certain we'll see Cazorla starting.

My starting line-up is somewhat of a guess because not even Wenger knows for certain if Sagna will be available, but I'll be optimistic and include Sagna in the line-up.

Probable Starting XI – Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Wilshere, Giroud

If Sagna doesn't start XI – Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Cazorla, Ozil, Wilshere, Giroud

It's sure to be a cracking game; hopefully we can keep it as tight as possible. If Sagna starts we will draw 1-1, if he doesn't I can see a 2-0 defeat unfortunately.

Lewbob's betting tips

City to win 2-0 – 10/1 (skybet)

Under 2.5 goals – 6/5 (skybet)

1-1 Draw – 13/2 (skybet)

 Tell us what you think! If you agree, or have a different view, please leave a comment in the comments section or why not write a response or your own article on YouWrite?

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