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Return of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

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After a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, English top-flight football returns and first up for Arsenal is a trip up north for their Premier League clash against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Good day one and all.
While he had to wait a bit longer than expected, this will be a special night for Mikel Arteta when he squares up to Pep Guardiola; whom he worked alongside for three-and-a-half years before an emotional farewell back in December.
However, there will be no time for sentiments as the Gunners need to hit the ground running if they have designs on playing in Europe next season. Qualifying for the Europa League will, of course, be minimum requirement but also a win here will put us in the mix for a Champions League spot. More so with City’s European ban; currently subject to appeal before the CAS.
Arsenal had a good run prior to the lockdown – an eight-match unbeaten league streak since the turn of the year, including three wins on the bounce from our last three outings – and will be eager to pick up where they left off. But with the break having halted that upswing in form, it did gave Arteta more time to impose his ideas and philosophy on the squad. We were all kept updated on their regular zoom conferences, they were also one of the first PL teams to return to training. Now we just need to bring it all together as we map our way forward.
The lockdown would have came at a good time for Pep who, by his high standards, was not having a particularly good season; City’s current seven defeats is already the most in a single league campaign spanning his managerial career.
The three-month break will have filled him with renewed vigour though. So neither the certitude of Liverpool winning the PL title nor the European ban hanging over their heads will be a let off from his competitive streak as he will appreciate this challenge from his former apprentice.
Looking at the respective home and away form: the Citizens have taken 13 points from their last five games at the Etihad (4W, 1D), while the Gunners have won just one of their last 12 on the road; the last five all ending in draws.
This is a fixture dominated by the home side in recent seasons; winning each of the last six meetings across all competitions. The most recent a 3-0 victory at the Emirates in December, with Arteta in the opposing dugout five days before taking over the reigns at the Gunners.
So one would be forgiven for having City down as favourites. However, as we now enter the post-lockdown stage it brings with it a cocktail of interesting dynamics as well as unfamiliarities; comparative match fitness, quiet stadia with artificial crowd noise only for the benefits of tv viewers, walk-on stadium music, no ball boys, awareness to maintain distance during goal celebrations, no crowding of match officials and five-subs which will certainly impact tactical approach. Phew! We sure are entering a new world.
Teams news
Both sides have seen a number of injury concerns cleared up during the lockdown. While Mancity have a fully fit squad available, tonight may come too soon for Arsenal’s Lucas Torreira and Calum Chambers. But they’re both likely to feature before the end of the season.
Prediction
All things considered, the Citizens are favourites but Mikel Arteta knows Pep Guardiola and his side better than anyone and got an opportunity to show his former employers that he got a few tricks of his own up his sleeve.
Make no mistake, this is massive game for the Gunners. A win here and we can ride high into the final stretch of the season… drop points and it will be a tough grind. COYG!
— Labo

45 comments on “Return of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

  1. xhaka a big injury concern for this game

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  2. Thanks Labo, good to see you, and soon, AFC back.
    Expecting some unexpected results under the coming strange conditions, hope this game provides just that

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  3. Good to see you too Mandy, and hopefully the rest of the gang return back later as well. I haven’t really watched other games, only bits and bobs, so it may take me a while getting used to this new normal. Hopefully the Mancity players too.

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  4. Thanks Labo, looks like everyone is in internet lockdown.

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  5. Welcome back everyone and an excellent welcome preview LG.
    There are definitely going to be some strange results and pre lockdown form will be no indication of what’s to come.
    Apparently Germany have seen a reduction in home wins so that will be interesting as well. Whatever the team COYG.

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  6. It will be interesting to see how the PIGMOB brethren get on without the screaming for blood clues to give yellows and such. We might even benefit

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  7. Hi Everyone, hope that all of you are doung well given the situation. Thanks Labo for the preview, great job! As for the match since MA knows MC inside out out should be very interesting. The gap in talent should be mitigated because of MA. Having said that i am pretty sure City will do as once we did, here is our game, stop us if you can! Enjoy the game!

    COYG!

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  8. With five subs allowed there is a distinct lack of midfielders on the bench. Ainsley the only natural one there which means there could of lots of reshaping of the eleven when subs are made

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  9. Ffs, just a few mins in and our first nasty injury post lockdown….hope he is ok

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  10. Where is Ozil?

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  11. reports suggest that ozil out due to his poor immune system, others that he missed a zoom meeting with Arteta
    seemingly a statement will be made after the game

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  12. the fears over xhaka’s fitness have happened, lasted only 8 minutes, Ceballos on

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  13. Two players injured already!!!! Not bad play so far though…

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  14. 22 minutes in and we have our second enforced change, david luiz on for mari

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  15. Tierney is impressive

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  16. Looks like the tide is turning in favour of ManShitty

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  17. david fucking luiz with a howler and man city take the lead late in the first half

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  18. Bollocks!!!

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  19. Typical.

    No change there.

    A blatant free kick ignored by the ref who then allowsthem to take a free kick a second time after the first time didn’t work

    No attack, no midfield and no defence.

    Can we have the lockdown again please.

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  20. city been the better team, we’ve not had a shot on goal

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  21. david luiz now gives away his fourth penalty of the season

    2-0

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  22. I have given up.

    This is too awful for words.

    I would rather not even think about football.

    It is sickening rubbish.

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  23. One day, we WILL save a penalty ….and avoid shooting ourselves in the foot

    Liked by 1 person

  24. David Luis….the liability

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  25. oh by the way david luiz was sent off for his foul for the penalty

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  26. Scissor tackle from Sterling should be a red not even a yellow.

    Same old same old from the pgmob clowns

    No comment from me on Luiz, I’ve said it before.

    Still great to see the Arsenal and read everything above.

    COYG!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. What’s up folks!
    Rough start but I did not expect much more. There is no way this line up was going to trouble City. Too young, too inexperienced (where is Lacazette and Ózil?). No where near enough steel and skill in the mid. There have been chances for us to get into dangerous positions by the passes are always just short.

    Not sure what to say about Luiz, dude is directly responsible for both goals! Never been my cup of tea.

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  28. triple sub

    AMN, Nelson and Lacazette on

    Guendouzi, Willock and Nketiah off

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  29. The PGMOL aren’t going to change with us as long Mike Riley has a pulse, but sometimes, we make it too easy for them

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Lacazette needs to start for me.

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  31. Duncan Alexander
    @oilysailor
    ·
    26m
    David Luiz with a red card once every 160 PL games with Chelsea, once every 13 games with Arsenal. Gave a penalty away once every 53 games for Chelsea, once every 6.5 games for Arsenal.

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  32. Not sure what to read into that. City scoring three against us, almost completely unanswered is like death and taxes.
    Two early injuries and a Luiz head fuck didn’t help. As bit of a Xhaka fan, had a bad feeling as to what was to come when he came off.
    Perhaps Mari started for a reason.
    Some strange selections by Arteta, need his side of the story
    Need to move on and quickly, and get this pretty horrible season out of the way,,hopefully in Europe in some form next season.

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  33. Guess Luiz is more advanced in his career with us, and let’s face it, we are not as defensive as he experienced for much of his time at Chelsea,, we try to play a different game, And, the PGMOL were never gunning for Chelsea, or not that I was aware.
    But those stats are pretty damning nonetheless, and he should have learned by now what Arsenal face

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  34. is it true that Burnley are going with All Lives Matter and not the Black Lives Matter on back of their shirts, or is this one of those lies spread by idiots.

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  35. Arteta says Ozil left out for “tactical reasons”

    is fucking Emery back

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  36. I wouldn’t read too much into this or anything else that happens over the next nine league games. Maybe as a prelude to 20-21 and what Arteta might have in mind for next season, but that’s it.

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  37. Looks like we now sit top of the league for penalties conceded, and red and yellow cards against, such a dirty team
    Pretty obvious something is very wrong here , I say again, why are the club putting up with this?

    https://www.premierleague.com/stats/top/clubs/penalty_conceded
    https://www.premierleague.com/stats/top/clubs/total_red_card
    https://www.premierleague.com/stats/top/clubs/total_yel_card

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  38. Mikel Arteta was understandably disappointed after we were beaten by Manchester City on Wednesday evening.

    Beside the result, we also suffered injuries to two players and had another sent off.

    Afterwards, our head coach faced the media and this is what he told them:

    on Mesut Ozil being left out of the matchday squad…
    It was a tactical reason. I needed players in other positions as well and that’s why I decided to leave him out.

    on David Luiz’s contract situation…
    I don’t know what will happen with his contract. I know what happened today, I know the way that David reacted. I know him well, not only as a player but as a person as well. He can handle these situations and it was a reason why I didn’t select him from the start and he had to play because Pablo got injured. He is always going to try to give you his best with the condition that he’s at and he’s tried again, but it didn’t work out for him or the team. That’s it.

    on Pablo Mari and Granit Xhaka’s injuries…
    They are getting assessed at the moment then we will know something more tomorrow morning. Pablo’s one didn’t look very good to be fair.

    on playing behind closed doors and the squad’s taking a knee pre-match…
    All the surroundings are completely different to what we are used to but we have to adapt. We are playing football again which is what we love to do and hopefully helping people with that and today’s game we have a lot of conditions, one of them we did just before the game. I think it is a very strong message. I think it is creating a very unique message around the world, what we are trying to achieve. I think some behaviours are going to change hopefully. We’ve seen the things that are happening and if we can contribute to that a little bit then great.

    Copyright 2020 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.

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  39. Well, I’m not too gutted…but no doubt only because I didn’t watch game. I’ve found a number of those City games and some Pool ones very hard to take over recent years. I have the sense they don’t look the same, and aren’t the same even, as very poor performances and heavy beatings from when I started out through the majority of Wenger years.

    That thing, I’m guessing by stats and reaction, of not being able to muster attacks, while they do with relative ease. It sucks, and I can’t reconcile myself with that being where we are even if only for a handful of games a season.

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  40. Was Luiz red/pen a sure thing, by way, ie something you’re sure no team could have got away from or we would have got in our favour if done to us?

    I was determined to try and freeze my long-standing cast-iron beliefs about our ref treatment for as long as possible, but, as I suspected, wasn’t able to do it, even while not watching.

    Until I see it, have it down as that thing where they almost never miss a chance to kill us with pens/reds while for other teams escapes are frequent and against us very likely.

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  41. A number of people on here complaining about the refereeing;if anyone believes we lost that game because of refereeing… really, do you also believe the earth is flat ?
    City have better players, doesn’t help our best player was not even on the bench.
    I’m 100% behind Arteta but that has to be his worst game so far.

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  42. Essex Gooner

    Guessing I’m one of those in question. Didn’t see it, so don’t know about last night.

    However, it’s very possible for us to play poorly, enough that we would lose whatever ref does, and for ref to be shite to us, which makes things worse, pushes our already low chances much lower again.

    I’ve seen that plenty, and don’t think it should just be ignored when that’s how it goes.

    Think the earth is flat thing more appropriate for those who have watched us for last 15 years or more and not been able to see how often they shaft us.

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  43. Just seen this website for the first time. It’s good to see a website and readers, that despite a disappointing restart, that are pragmatic and reasonable in their reactions

    Like

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