The visit of France, sorry Arsenal, to the City of Manchester Stadium on Saturday should provide an entertaining and enthralling game of football. It will be a good test of where we are at this stage, because Mark Hughes has mentioned time and time again that the Gunners are the team we aspire to be like. Forget long-balls and negative tactics, we, as fans, want to watch exciting and attacking football, full of one-touch passing and movement.
Both sides come into the game needing three ponts. City have not won for 4 premier league games, and have only picked up 1 point out of a possible 12 in that period. Arsenal have been on an indifferent run of form lately, with their two most recent games being a 2-0 defeat of Man United, (well done boys!!) and a poor performance against Aston Villa, culminating in a 2-0 loss.
City’s hopes of picking up the points will be increased after William Gallas’ unforeseen outburst, criticising his teammates for their lack of appetite for a battle. “We are not brave enough in battle. I think we need to be soldiers. To be champions, you have to play big matches every weekend and fight,” said Gallas. This passionate, but slighly bizarre attack on his fellow players could either be a wake-up call for the Gunners, or it could work against them and in City’s favour.
City’s chances areas further boosted by the suspension and injury, respectively, to Arsenal’s key men, Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas and the ever-reliable Kolo Touré. For the Bues, Kasper Schmeichel will make a rare start as normal keeper Joe Hart is out for between two and three weeks, folowing his injury picked up in the previous match against Hull.
Key Battles: City ‘v’ Arsenal:
Shaun Wright-Phillips ‘v’ Gael Clichy
This battle between key winger SWP and quick, French left-back Clichy is sure to be one contest to get fans on the edge of their seats. Both players rely heavily on pace and trickery, and for the Blues, it is crucial that SWP limits the effectiveness of Clichy getting forward. However, if the full-back fails to deal with the Blues’ winger, then City may run riot (he says hopefully!)
Stephen Ireland ‘v’ Denilson
The bald, Irish midfielder has been in quite scintilating form this season. He has easily outshone Robinho, and has weighed in with valuable goals. Gunners’ midfielder Denilson has started the last few matches, but he will have an even more important role on Saturday in the absence of Fabregas. This will be a vital contest between the sides, and may well be one which helps to decide the final outcome.
Richard Dunne ‘v’ Emanuel Adebayor
Dunne has been voted player of the season for the last four years, but this year, he has failed to reach the high standards he sets, often making important mistakes. He will return to the side in favour of Israeli international Tal Ben-Haim, who made a dreadful mistake in the last match against Hull. Adebayor is Arsenal’s main man up front, and on his day, can be a real handful for any Premier League defence.
Verdict: City 1 – 2 Arsenal
An exciting, action-packed game to be won near the end by Arsenal.