Preview: Arsenal v. City (a)
City of Manchester Stadium
Well hello again. It's been an especially long and monotonous interlull this time around. I figure that's because we're coming off a crushing, undeserved defeat to United. If you could excuse me for a second while I stand up and stretch my fingers. Okay, moving on.
Next up is another trip to Manchester to face some familiar faces in blue shirts. I don't want to dwell on this issue because, to tell you the truth, I'm tired of hearing about our African misfits. So let me address the elephant in the room very quickly.
Cheer Toure. Boo Adebaywhore.
It's that simple. Arsenal got 40 million quid in the coffers, and we're a better team because of it. Both players have settled well at Eastlands. One has been scoring freely, and the other received the Citeh captaincy free with purchase of a new home in the Manchester area. So both parties have moved on, and now, so have I.
What does grind my gears though, is City's divine right to Arsenal's Champions League spot. Not so much from the City supporters, who for the most part have stayed grounded, but instead from the media. I will never forget that picture on Sky's homepage during opening weekend. But then, after the first 90 minutes of our season, I haven't heard a single pundit predict our demise.
For all that, I consider this match more than just your run of the mill trip to the City of Manchester Stadium. If you forget about matches against Tottenham, Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool, any European team, FA & Carling Cup opponents, oh and Barnet in our annual preseason friendly, I don't think I have ever wanted to win a single game so badly. But after disregarding all those other games, I guess that doesn't mean much after all. Oh well.
Quick Vital Quotes:
With Arshavin out, Dudu is going to have to step up and Wenger has faith in him. He told the official website this: 'Any situation you face as a top-level player you have to deal with, and you can only do that by being mentally strong,' said the Frenchman.
'The situation has been created by the media impact of [Eduardo's] case, but that is not the worst. The worst thing is that now he is not given penalties when they are penalties. That is much worse. The one last night against England (when he was hauled down by Glen Johnson) was a penalty.'
Wenger, though, maintains: 'I do not believe it will affect his game. He is a player who has gone through much more difficult things than that. On the one side, a good way to deal with that is that he is in good health. This is a minor event compared to what he has gone through before.'
Manchester City Team News:
There was lots of talk about how Hughes was going to keep his plethora of attacking talent happy, but going into this clash, he only has two strikers to choose from, Bellamy and some bloke from Togo. Robinho and Tevez were both injured in the same match last weekend, as their respective countries faced off. Benjani, Michael Johnson, and Santa Cruz are also out, while Kompany is a slight doubt.
Player to watch: Gareth Barry
City's unofficial captain will be eager to impress in his first significant match since his big money move from Villa this summer. He will be looking to boss the midfield and minimize Cesc's influence on the match, even though he is not a proper defensive midfielder. If he can do that then City could do well.
Arsenal Team News:
So just when you thought that everyone was going to come back from the international break unscathed, we received news that Andrey Arshavin will be out till the away match at Craven Cottage on the 26th. That is a big blow for this weekend's game, just like City losing Robinho and Tevez is a big blow for them. Luckily for us, we won't need him against Liege, Wigan, and West Brom.
In other news, Tomas Rosicky played 60 minutes on Wednesday, and should be fit to make the bench. Theo will be back for the game against Liege. Djourou is out for 6 months, and Nasri could be back in training in a matter of weeks.
Predicted Starting XI: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy, Song, Denilson, Fabregas, Bendtner, van Persie, Eduardo
Player to watch: Cesc Fabregas
After missing the trip to Old Trafford with a hamstring injury, Cesc returns to the squad, hoping to leave Manchester with three points this time around. Barry will most likely be asked to marshal Cesc, but since Barry likes to get forward so much, Fabregas will have more room to work with in the centre of the pitch. I expect the Spaniard to continue his goalscoring antics.
Match Facts & Stats
City have lost more Premier League matches and conceded more goals against Arsenal than any other team
Between 1994 and 2006 Arsenal won seven successive league games away to City. However, the Citizens have won the last two out of three against Arsenal at Eastlands.
Head to Head
In the league, Arsenal have won 83, City have won 42, and there have been 37 draws.
Mark Clattenburg will be the head official for this match. Last season he handed out 114 yellow cards and 10 reds in 43 games. This gives him a 2.9 card per game average.
I think Arsenal will win. I think Adebayor will score. I think Song will dominate Ireland, and I expect van Persie to provide at least one assist but still not get on the score sheet himself.
I'll go 3-1 to the Arsenal.
16/9 (Wed) - Standard Liege (a) - Champions League
19/9 (Sat) - Wigan (h) - Premier League
22/9 (Tue) - West Brom (h) - Carling Cup