If today’s game wasn’t already important enough, yesterday’s results provide even further motivation for Arsenal.
Sp*rs dropped two points away at Sunderland, one of their most difficult games in the run in, while Chelsea’s late win against Wigan means they’ve closed the gap on us to 2 points. A win today would open that back up to a more comfortable 5 while putting us 2 ahead of our neighbours. It is tighter than a camel’s arse in a sand storm.
As for today’s team, I’d be surprised to see an unchanged line-up. Aaron Ramsey on the left side of the attacking trio is obviously something Arsene has thought about and used for his own reasons but I think it leaves us unbalanced and dampens us as an attacking threat. I think Oxlade-Chamberlain or Gervinho would be a better option and I suspect the manager will go with the more experienced option. It’s a game in which the Ivorian needs to show his mettle as well as his quality.
This is going to be tough, no question. By the time we kick off City could be 8 points behind United. Perhaps that will spur them on, although at this stage of the season, when you’re involved in a title race, you really shouldn’t need any further motivation. They’ll know that 3 points are a necessity and will have to play accordingly.
In seasons past they’ve come to our place and set-up for a draw, happy with a single point. They’re going to have to go at it differently today, that defensive outlook won’t do, and even if United don’t win it becomes a chance to close the gap. On the other hand, it might be a case that they’re starting to feel the pressure, a mercenary bunch fighting with each other and buckling under the relentless demands of a title race. Personally, I think they’ve got far too much quality for that but pressure does funny things to teams, as we well know.
Their attacking quality is obvious and it’s a game in which we will have to be defensively switched on from first whistle to last. Any lapses like the ones at QPR will be extremely costly, if Mark Hughes’ team can punish then you can be quite sure City have that ability. First and foremost we’ve got to ensure we work hard as a team and remember that defending is not the sole preserve of the back four. Midfield in particular will be massively important and if we can cut off the supply to their most dangerous players then we’ll go a long way to stopping them.
From an attacking point of view we need to see much more than we did last weekend. I think this will be a much more open game than we’re used to against Man City but I’m not sure it’s going to be a game of many chances. When they come we’ve got to take them and obviously Robin van Persie is the main man in that regard. He’s gone three games without a goal now, something of a dry spell considering the way he’s been scoring this year, so it’d be nice to see him back on track.
But there should be goals from all over. Rosicky, Walcott, Gervinho and Arteta are all capable while set-pieces provide a threat through the centre-halves. And patience may well be a virtue today. Last weekend we were guilty of forcing it, mostly through Alex Song whose ability to pick a pass has been one of the highlights this season, but when they don’t come off you’re essentially conceding possession. It’s got to be done right today, and that means playing the percentages more often. Choosing the simpler option may well turn out to be most effective.
We need to bounce back from last weekend, to show that the QPR game was the ‘accident’ the manager said it was. There can be no underestimating our opponents today, there can be no complacency because it will cost us. We’re going to have to play as well as we’ve played all season to take three points today so fingers crossed we’re up for this.
In other news The Mirror picks up on the whisper from yesterday and says that Jack Wilshere’s recovery has suffered a little set-back due to a knee problem. This is obviously why he wasn’t involved in the behind closed doors game earlier this week so fingers crossed it’s nothing too serious.
Also in The Mirror an interview with Bacary Sagna in which he talks about Arsenal players who have left to go to City but says he won’t be joining them, amongst other stuff.
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Right, that’s yer lot. Excited about later on now, let’s hope we see the real Arsenal today and it’s about time we beat this lot.
Come on you reds.