Manchester City have laid out their title credentials at the start of this Premier League season. Lying in second place, with the chance to cut Chelsea’s lead down to 2 points after 9 games if they can beat Arsenal today.
Having recorded a 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Eastlands only a few weeks ago, and with their only defeat coming at the hands of a Darren Bent stoppage time penalty so far this season, they’re not be overlooked any more.
Gifted Group of Players
Roberto Mancini has put together a solid core of players now. The least you’d expect with the money City have spent over the past couple of seasons. With a solid core of players down the middle, a defence that has improved since last season, and a goal scoring machine in Carlos Tevez, they’re a top 4 team this season.
Manchester City’s mentality has been questioned over the past few seasons. Taking their talent for granted has seen them drop points they weren’t expected too. Earlier this season they followed up a 3-0 victory over Liverpool with a 1-0 defeat at Sunderland and then a 1-1 draw with Blackburn after an international break.
Since that draw on September 11th, Manchester City have won all 4 of their Premier League games; against Wigan, Chelsea, Newcastle and Blackpool. Meanwhile, Arsenal have won just 1 of their last 4 Premier League defeats and trail leaders Manchester City by 8 points. This lack of form started with Darren Bent’s 95th minute equaliser at the Stadium of Light, was followed up with a home defeat at the hands of West Brom (or the hands of Manuel Almunia), then a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea, before they got back to winning ways by defeat Birmingham 2-1 last weekend.
Arsenal produced a convincing display by defeating Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1 in the Champions League at the Emirates on Tuesday night. The returning Cesc Fabregas scored from the spot, while Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh continued their good form. But how many times do Arsenal disappoint in a league fixture after such an impressive European outing? Two days later, Manchester City were able to rest the likes of Carlos Tevez, James Milner, Yaya Toure in a 3-1 victory over Lech Poznan in their Europa League match. David Silva put in another tremendous display as he helped setup Emmanuel Adebayor to score a hat trick.
Emmanuel Adebayor hasn’t had a full 90 minutes in the Premier League this season, only making 5 brief appearances. Following his hat trick midweek, and with his history against Arsenal, this hands Roberto Mancini a selection headache prior to today’s game. Happy with his 4-5-1 formation, and with Carlos Tevez scoring 7 goals already this season, and in each of his last 4 Premier League games, where will Adebayor fit into today’s equation?
Manchester City versus Arsenal sees a lot of talented players, especially in midfield today. Cesc Fabregas will do battle with Nigel de Jong; something that Arsenal fans must be fearing, given their injury record and his tackling record. Yaya Toure will add additional power to that City midfield. Power has been something highlighted whenever Arsenal play Chelsea, and once again today Arsenal could be overawed by the size and strength of some of their opponents. James Milner and Adam Johnson add creative threats from the wing, as can David Silva, who also plays well behind the striker. The left-footed Spaniard was their match winner at Blackpool last weekend, setting up 1 goal and scoring another in less than half hour when he came on the pitch. Look out for Tevez and Silva to cause this vulnerable Arsenal defence problems today.
Manchester City’s defence is by no means perfect itself. The likes of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri are likely to pass their way through this team and create goalscoring chances for themselves, Marouane Chamakh and co. It is going to be a stern test for this Manchester City defence, who shut out Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda and co just a few weeks ago at the same stadium.
Poor Defensive Record
Lukasz Fabianski is set to make his third successive Premier League start in the absence of Manuel Almunia. The Pole failed to keep a clean sheet in either game, and Is protected by a defence that has only kept a clean sheet against 10 man Blackpool in their opening 8 games. Manchester City will enjoy a number of opportunities in this match, and will be looking for the in-form Carlos Tevez to put them away. At the other end, Manchester City have bright England prospect Joe Hart protecting their goal.
Manchester City Have the Advantage
Manchester City have the form, home field advantage, power in their midfield, the trickery of David Silva and the consistent Carlos Tevez up front today. Arsenal head into this match with nifty passing ability, a fragile defence and often relying on Cesc Fabregas. While the Spaniard is a match winner, if City can keep him in check today, it may be another one of those days for Arsenal where they see a lot of possession but fail to do a lot with it in the final third. Or will Andrey Arshavin show up today, after being relatively quiet domestically?
Manchester City won this fixture 4-2 last season and 3-0 the year before. Dare I say 3 in a row? Their odds are of great value today at 6/4!