Arsenal host the Premier League defending champions Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon; with both sides having ropy league campaigns thus far.
Good day all. The Gunners finally ended their winless run with a win at West Ham United, which they followed up by coming back from two-goals down for a draw at Standard Liège to qualify for the Europa League ’round of 32′ as group winners.
It’s still just one win in four games since Freddie Ljungberg took over, but he will hope his side can kick on against a Man City outfit that’s already 17 points behind leaders Liverpool and in a position of rare vulnerability in the Pep Guardiola era.
After averaging a massive 99 pts in the last two seasons, getting 32 pts from 16 games is Pep’s worst start to a league campaign in his glowing managerial career. His side have already lost as many games as they did last season, which include defeats to Norwich and Wolves, they also dropped two points on a recent trip to Newcastle. If you factor in that they’re on the back of a 10-game run without a clean sheet, this is the sort of form that can cause doubt in the minds of players and indeed a manager who have set very high standards for themselves.
Well… phhh! All these may mean very little considering Arsenal’s issues a bit more deep-seated, however, there should still be a strong belief that they are there for the taking. Otherwise what would be the point?
It goes without saying that we don’t have a particularly good record against the Cityzens in recent years; they have beaten us with an aggregate score of 14-2 in the last five encounters (all competitions). But we can’t exactly evade them, and seldom has there been a more opportune time to play them. While they still remain a threat up front, things are not happening at the back for them. So if we defend well enough and make the most of our scoring chances… wouldn’t that be a gigantic feather in Freddie’s cap, which would be a bit hard to ignore for our executives?
His few games as interim coach hasn’t exactly been ideal and having Mikel Arteta, who is one of the potential candidates for the Arsenal job, in the opposition dugout would add a rather interesting subplot as we vie for a first league win against the Cityzens since December 2015.
Nicolas Pépé is available after initial fears over his fitness, whilst Hector Bellerìn and Granit Xhaka might only return hereafter. Dani Ceballos and Rob Holding are also nearing returns, Kieran Tierney is ruled out for the next three months.
Gabriel Martinelli will be hopeful of getting a second league start after scoring at West Ham and I doubt any Arsenal fan will complain. Kid has been impressive.
For all of Man City’s problems it would be foolish thinking they’re not favourites for the win, however, they are under pressure to pick up results otherwise they can forget about getting a sniff in the race for the league title.
That pressure, of course, is something Arsenal can target as the visitors have shown they’re more prone to slip-ups recently than at any point during Pep’s tenure. So neither Freddie nor supporters have to feel apprehensive about our chances here today and just back the boys. I think there’s a genuine willingness in them to give more than they did these last few months and this could be an exciting game.
Keep those fingers crossed Gooners. COYG!