Preview: Arsenal (Home)

The visit of Arsene Wenger's Arsenal side to Eastlands on Saturday will undoubtedly prove our toughest test so far this season. As well as we've played in our opening games we're yet to meet one of the top four, or even a club who might challenge for a Europa League place. Past results, of course, don't really have any bearing on things, but we do have a dire record against them, just two wins in 25 since the formation of the Premier League, and we've been on the end of a few whippings. Both of our victories, however, have come in recent seasons, and with the squad improved significantly over the last year we'll hopefully stand a real chance of some sort of result.

We should, in theory, be in for a terrific game. At home we're often brilliant, playing quick, flowing, counter-attacking football, and Arsenal, on their day, are the best team in the country to watch. We do tend to give sides chances, though, and we might not get away with that against such decent opposition. Against most sides we play at home we'll dictate the tempo of the game, on Saturday we might not, so it's important we're tight at the back and snappy in midfield. With that in mind i'd perhaps bring in Nigel de Jong rather than replacing the injured Carlos Tevez with Craig Bellamy. I expect that might be our only change.

It could certainly be seen as a bonus that Arsenal are going to be without Andrei Arshavin. He's looked in excellent form since signing from Zenit St. Petersburg in January, and he was the player i was worried about most. They have quality throughout their squad, however, and you'd expect Cesc Fabregas to come into the side to replace him, albeit not like-for-like, after missing their defeat at Old Trafford a fortnight ago. Them having one less match-winner in their side has to be seen as a positive thing for us, and their lack of natural width could well prove key.

Arsenal have points to prove, of course. They owe us one for the absolute pasting we gave them last season, though admittedly they were short of several key players that day due to a mixture of injuries, suspensions and off-the-field matters, but we did make them look a bit silly. Then there's the fact that we relieved them of two of their better players this summer, for very generous fees, it must be said, but both looking bargains so far. The press will typically have a field day should the result go one way or the other. They'll also want to get back to winning ways after their awful second-half showing at The Swamp, culminating in their manager's embarrassing touchline antics.

As Mark Hughes has alluded to today, we really can't let them settle, if we do that they could well turn us over. They don't like it up 'em, it's been proved time and time again that they shy away from a battle away from home, so we should have no conscience about putting ourselves about and if need be giving them a bit of a kicking, as United did. Not that we absolutely have to resort to a more physical approach to win the game, but it will probably help. It might even be an idea to get either de Jong or Barry to man-mark Fabregas, he and their attacking two all have the ability to cause us real problems, but you'd hope Toure's experience of them would come in handy. It will surely be our defence's first major test, the clean sheets are extremely positive but we're yet to face a side with real quality upfront.

I'd take a draw if offered one now, as much of a shame as it would be to lose the 100% record. If we get at them early doors and take our opportunities then we've got half a chance, but i think we'll have to play to our absolute best and they be below par for us to take all three points. They appear more organised at the back, Vermaelen looks like a sound buy, their fringe players seem to have the bit between the teeth, they're playing some good stuff and they'll fancy their chances.

Possible teams:
City: Given, Richards, Bridge, Toure, Lescott, De Jong, Ireland, Barry, SWP, Adebayor, Robinho

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Clichy, Gallas, Vermaelen, Song, Denilson, Fabregas, Eduardo, van Persie, Diaby

Prediction: City 1 Arsenal 1


  1. I quite agree. Now where's the Friday MP3?

  2. Nice preview Norfstander. ManTwitty agrees that a draw is the likely result and that we could concede for the first time this season against what is a fine team. Prediction 2-2. I'd take a draw today and a win a week tomorrow! (http://www.mantwitty.co.uk)