You could argue today’s fixture is our toughest and most challenging of the season thus far. You’d certainly have a very good case, cast iron even. Man City’s home form has been nothing short of awesome so far. They’ve ripped supposedly good teams to shreds on their own turf, banging in goals for fun in the process.
To say I’m a little daunted would be an understatement. As poor as the team’s showing in Italy on Wednesday was, I don’t see it having any baring on how events unfold. The only contributing factor could be fatigue. The defeat itself shouldn’t sit heavy on the minds of the players, especially given we qualified for the next stages of the Champions League.
So why am I daunted? Surely I should be unrelentingly positive? Well, truth be told; I worry because we are playing a team that is capable of beating anyone should the mood take them. They’ll see us as genuine contenders for the Premiership crown and I expect them to be ready for this one and eager to get the 3 points. There’s a storm coming, and we’ll need to be at our best if we are to come through it.
The team news is pretty good. Sagna should return the the line-up, and news has emerged Bacary will finally put pen to paper on a new contract at Arsenal. Lukas Podolski lacks match fitness, but could be involved at some point as a substitute. The Ox remains sidelined, and Sanogo and Diaby have started their own cleaning business in Slough and will be unavailable for selection.
Given the pressure we are likely to be under, and the fact Clichy is likely to start in direct opposition, this is a game crying out for the pace of Theo. Walcott often struggles to impact against teams that adopt a defensive approach, but against those sides intent to attack us, he can be a lethal outlet. Ramsey and Wilshere should both start after being rested in Italy. Flamini will hopefully come into the side as I think we’ll need his aggression and leadership today.
With that in mind, here’s how I think we’ll line-up:
A lot of the so-called ‘big’ pundits are writing us off. I always see that as a good thing in the large fixtures. It can have a galvanising effect on the team. Although I am worried about the game, I do believe a big performance will mean we can come away from The Ethiad with some points. Here’s 5 reasons why I think we can win:
- We have an impressive midfield. More so than any other, the centre of the field will be where the game is won, and our players are more than capable of dominating the game.
- Aside from the home game with Napoli, we haven’t seen a truly exceptional performance from the Arsenal in a while. We’re due one.
- As good as they are in the offensive areas, Man City have defensive troubles. We have looked solid at the back. We can score against them.
- This is the type of game Olivier Giroud thrives on. Some people – wrongly – have made him the scapegoat for the Napoli result. He’ll be a threat to our opponents today.
- I’m expecting the players to motivate themselves for this one. We all know how much the media and certain other parties enjoy to cast aspersions on Arsenal’s title credentials. We have the perfect opportunity to cement our claim today and put pressure on those playing in the later fixtures. We can beat Man City if we play to our abilities.
It’ll certainly be a nerve-wracking experience watching. I’m probably going to have my hands covering my eyes every time the ball heads into our penalty area. That said, I retain my optimism. It’s time to stand up and be counted. Any result other than a loss today will be considered a good one. I’d happily take a draw, but believe we can win if we really peform. I shall be ballsy and go for a 2-1 Arsenal victory.
If you fancy a flutter on the game, be sure to check out the betting tips offered up by podcasting friend, @LewBob91. I’m sure he’ll help you decide which area your money is best placed. If you end up splurging a small fortune on the outcome, don’t forget to abuse him directly and not me. I’m just pointing you in the direction…
That’s all from me, folks. The comments await your thoughts and predictions on the team and scoreline. Let me know what you think.
As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.