Manchester City away was a far trickier tie towards the start of the season, but come Saturday Arsenal will still have a hell of a game on their hands. As Manchester United found out, the City of Manchester Stadium has been a bit of a fortress for the blue half of Manchester. City are unbeaten at home in the Premier League this season and they have played United and Liverpool there so far.
Sven has done brilliantly with his side and he knew home form would determine what they achieved this season. At the start they won 9 games in a row on their own turf but since then, Blackburn, Liverpool and West Ham have drawn there. In the first two of those games, City were lucky to win and we are playing them at the best time. Their form has dipped an awful lot and the draw at Derby this week highlighted this.
The form of Elano has fallen and they are relying on the quality of Martin Petrov to get goals. Michael Johnson, although so young, has been a big influence on the side and his absence has coincided with the first real hiccup for “Mr Blue Eyes”. City have looked a bit more shaky at the back and Micah Richards and Dunne have looked vulnerable at times. Joe Hart has played extremely well between the posts and has become a real player for the future.
After back to back victories and a slow rise back to form, we have a good opportunity to inflict City’s first defeat at home in the League. The squad is unchanged from Tuesday night and I think it could be the same starting line up. Why change it if its not broken? As long as we see none of the silly passing from Senderos, similar to the last 10 minutes in midweek, we should be ok at the back. Daniel Sturridge will be a pest but I feel Gallas’ experience will prevail here.
The best battle will be Martin Petrov vs Bakary Sagna. These two have definitely been two of the best signings this season and it will be a great tussle as they come head to head. Sagna has made our defence a far tighter and secure unit this season, but crucially he has provided a great attacking outlet, fitting right into out style of play. Martin Petrov has been brilliant this season for City, he has pace, skill and one of the best left foots in the business. His crosses are accurate more often than not and his set pieces could trouble us.
Flamini will be confident of doing a job on Elano as he is the other main attacking threat to us. Otherwise we should be able to cope with City and try and dominate the game. If we play the way we did against Newcastle we really should win this game. We have Adebayor in brilliant form and he will want to score for the 8th game running. We are making chances and when you do that, you score goals and I feel it may take more than one to take the three points on Saturday
Wenger could go with Theo for this game in place of Diaby. This would mean Hleb moving to left midfield where he plays better than the right in my opinion. However, Diaby looked better on Tuesday; he passed the ball earlier and used his strength in ways we expect from him. It may take patience and retention of the ball for this game; Theo really can be a loose cannon. Yet his pace could cause trouble to Ball/Garrido.
We have come through some difficult away ties this season and this will be another one. We are against a team that are good at home as mentioned and we need to keep our focus and the eye on the prize: the Premier League trophy. From here on in, every game counts!