Arsenal FC: Can the Gunners Take Home Points from the Etihad Stadium?
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Arsenal has started off the new campaign in impressive fashion despite drawing their first two matches. A draw at home against Sunderland was followed up with another scoreless draw, this time away to Stoke City.
The usual critics were already doubting the Gunners even though they had clearly improved their defensive approach. Steve Bould's arrival helped recreate the Arsenal back line that for so long looked lost and confused. So far this season, they have only conceded two goals. One from a goalkeepers mistake and another from a penalty.
A visit to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday will be yet another test for the new look defense of the London side. Going up against a very talented Manchester City squad could help Arsene Wenger get a better idea of how ready his team is to challenge for the English Premier League.
Winning away to Montpellier mid-week will give the Arsenal players another boost of confidence. Wenger had to watch from the stands as his team struggled to contain the French side in the second half.
A hard fought match could have some players slightly fatigued, but Manchester City's side won't have it any easier. They played a 90-minute match that almost seemed like it was the Champions League Final.
Arsene Wenger will certainly have done his homework on the Citizens, especially after seeing how vulnerable they were at times against Real Madrid mid-week.
With that said, a return to the Etihad won't bring back the greatest of memories, considering Arsenal was defeated there 1-0 last season. Although they lost, you don't have to go back too far to find the last victory for the Gunners away to City.
A convincing 0-3 victory for Arsenal in 2010 with goals from three players who are no longer with the club: Samir Nasri, Alex Song and Nicklas Bendtner.
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This match will not only give Arsenal an opportunity to prove themselves in the new campaign, but they will also be playing to prove a point to former players.
Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy are just two former Arsenal players who left the Gunners for Manchester City. Now while they say the move wasn't for money, others will beg to differ. But regardless of the reason, they obviously left because they felt Arsenal wasn't capable of competing with the best. So now the Arsenal players will have to use that as motivation to take down the current English Champions.
In the last five meetings between the two in official matches, Arsenal has won two, while losing two and drawing one. I guess you can say that's not all that bad considering the squad and the money Manchester City has invested.
Sunday will be an exciting match to watch whether you're a fan or not. I expect Arsenal to come out ready to prove a point considering some of the City players could be fatigued.
The absence of Samir Nasri and Micah Richards is almost certain, while Sergio Aguero will most likely make his return to the squad. Arsenal will be missing Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna, Lukasz Fabianski, Emmanuel Frimpong and Wojciech Szczesny due to injury.
Not allowing City to set the pace of the game will be important for Arsenal. Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla will also be fundamental because shutting down David Silva and Yaya Toure is not an easy assignment. Seeing what Toure was able to do against Real Madrid was impressive, but Wenger will certainly alert his players of the difficulties they could face.
Winning at the Etihad seems a very difficult task, although not impossible. City has won 25 of their last 26 home matches, so Arsenal will really have to be nearly perfect to run out of Manchester with a victory.
The most probable seems to be a draw which quite frankly wouldn't be all that bad for Arsenal. Getting a point away to City and returning home next match to take on Chelsea would be a descent scenario.
How will the match play out and will the Champions League matches take a toll on some of the players performance?
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