Arsenal V Man City

  I’ve did a few game preview last season and to my immense pride got most of them right however these were all based on my extensive football knowledge of the opposition. With that in mind I am at a bit of a disadvantage with the City game in that I know pretty much nothing about the majority of their first eleven. So, this game preview may be a bit below the usual high standards expected on the InsideArsenal site! Being Irish (and proud of it) I was always able to look at Sven from the outside in without any national fever taking hold and I can honestly say that he always left me distinctly under whelmed. I know that his qualifying record was pretty impressive but he never did anything at any tournament. And when you consider the pool of players available I feel that it isn’t all that much to expect England to have added either a World or more realistically a European cup to their single title. Some of his tactical decisions were poor and he I don’t recall him ever making a good substitution. The World Cup game against Brazil when England were a goal up, taking Walcot to the World Cup and again failing on penalties in Europe are just some of the less favourable memories I have of his time in-charge. I know some could say that penalties are a bit of a lottery and there is some truth in that but if our own mad German can beat the Argies through a bit of research then surely Sven (who at the time was the highest paid international manager in the world) would have done something to help Paul “England’s number 1” Robinson. To add an element of comedy to his already near cartoon like character he admits that most of the fifty or so players he’s bought he only watched on DVD! Now I’ve never been a football manager (bar that time I lead the Athenry U11 to third from bottom in the Galway league) but I don’t think that MySpace or Bebo is the best place for judging football talent. That is what makes Man City’s start to the season all the more puzzling. I saw them on the opening day against West Ham and they looked a good side. They worked hard, constantly pressed the ball, defended really well and took their chances when they were offered. Now they were playing against a West Ham side that included a well past it Freddie and the nut-bag duo of Bellamy and Bowyer but still a 0:2 result at West Ham is better than what we managed last season. They then laboured to beat a very limited Derby team (who I think will beat Sunderland’s unwanted record for the lowest number of points in a season and by some margin) and then up came United. We all know that United have not had a good start to the season. Losing Rooney and Ronald was a big blow and even more so when the old reliable Saha was out once again injured. United pretty much dominated the game and created a few chances that you would normally expect them to take. City had only one shot that I recall but it ended up in the net via Vidic’s big arse. City were lucky in the game and I wonder if United had scored would Sven have reacted in anyway? The good news for City (and the bad news for us) is that in Dunne and Richards they have a very solid centre-back pairing. I have Dunne in my fantasy football team and he is racking up the points for me. Garrido and Onouha both look pretty good but they are all sitting in front of a keeper who looks like he is only twenty – which he is. He was very nervous against United and should have been punished. I think the young Dane has the makings of a good keeper but he is years away from it now. He is far and away the weak point in the defensive unit, but who the hell are we to talk about an error-prone goalie! Any midfield with Dieter Hamman as the lynchpin will struggle over the season. Dieter was a good player, three years or more back but he is not up to the standard, maybe a few games but not over 38. Moving the ball quickly will really test him and bring him back to his old habit of kicking people. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him either subbed or sent off. The rest of the midfield looks pretty all right, Petrov, Geovanni, Johnson and Elano (playing behind the lone striker – Bianchi) are all fair to good players. They have been playing one up front and one supporting in front of a four man midfield, a bit like us with Hleb. I’d expect City to pack five into the middle against us with Hamman sitting just in front of the back four. They will play it defensively tight and try to nick a goal on the counter and the speed at which they can move the ball around means that we will need to have our heads screwed on at the back. Petrov in particular looks very fast with the ball at his feet and he will test our new boy Sagna throughout the game. I do expect Sagna to keep him quiet. But City will be facing an Arsenal team that seems to have had a bit of an attitude make-over during the summer months. Blackburn adopted their usual tactical approach last week against us and we came away from the game thinking that the point was not enough. I don’t know if it’s the departure of Henry or Gallas’s attitude that make the team play with a chip on the shoulder but whatever it is I like the results. Johnny Giles, a pundit on RTE television in Ireland, always says that if two teams give the same commitment than the team with the greater skill will win out. And he makes sense, but in some games you have to earn the right to play the type of football you want. If this means fighting back when teams kick us well I say bring it on. It was good to see Cesc flatten Repka in the Sparta match, it is good to see Hleb squaring up head to head with the opposition and it is good to hear little Gael say that if someone bites him they’ll get something back in return. Thankfully City will not adopt the physical approach against us but they will defend deep and try to frustrate us relying on Dunne and Richards keeping our front men quiet. VanPersie will once again be key. In games where space it tight then his ability to create a chance out of nothing could turn the game in our favour. I know that Ade is back from injury but I would a start with DaSilva. I think that Ade is the type of player that Dunne likes playing against where as the quick footed DaSilva may cause him problems. It will also be key that the midfield men get into the box as much as possible to try to drag the defenders out of position. But all the while we have to watch out for the quick break from them. I am not sure if Gilberto will be back and it would be good if he was, Flamini does like to get forward a lot and we could be exposed. I have to say that while I think I would have dropped Jens after last week’s clanger with Gallas out I cannot see Wenger changing two out of the back five so Ze German gets another chance to shine. He didn’t look good last night against England and I really think that the sooner we replace him the better. Sven has done well uniting this team of individuals into a proper team in such a short space of time and I think they’ll do quite well during the season. I can see them ending up 6th or 7th. There are questions that we will have to put to them during the ninety minutes. Such as how will they react when they fall behind? How their goalkeeper reacts when he finally lets one in? And how will the individuals react when the game is going against them? They looked very good in the first game, not so good in the second and actually quite poor against United (not that the City fans gave a dam!) and I do honestly think that Sven in limited as a manager. I am not saying that he is bad just limited. I think it will be close and tense game until the first goal goes in and I cannot stress enough how important it is that we get it. And I think we will. I think that we will the first to breach the City defence and the first team to beat them. Prediction: Home win. Enjoy the weekend.

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