Arsenal-Manchester City: It's Time for Reunion and Revenge

Robin SAnalyst IApril 23, 2010

LONDON - AUGUST 25:  Robin van Persie of Arsenal has his penalty kick saved by Kasper Schmeichel of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium on August 25, 2007 in London, England. (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)
Hamish Blair/Getty Images

On Saturday, Arsenal host Manchester City in a must win game for Roberto Mancini's side. Last week, Wigan Athletic dented Arsenal's title hopes after 10 minutes of brilliant play against a hapless Gunners side.

So, this game isn't all that important for Arsene Wenger and his side. With third place almost in the bag, Wenger would be relatively unstressed at the back end of a gruelling season, which has been hampered by injuries.

Arsenal will be looking to avenge a humiliating defeat in the return leg of the same game earlier this season. It was a controversial game with Adebayor stamping on Robin Van Persie's face. Manchester City won that game 4-2, and now the Citizens will be travelling to the Emirates with a win in their sights.

Manchester City's last league win at Arsenal was 35 years ago, but this is the strongest City side in many years, capable of winning anywhere. Presently, Arsenal are struggling after defeats at the hands of Barcelona, Tottenham, and Wigan. What was supposed to be a promising season is about to end with only if's and but's, and the wait for a title since 2005 continues.

Manchester City, meanwhile, are finally playing like a team. It's always difficult to put up a team from scratch, and make them play from the first minute. The same goes for Manchester City too. The first half of the season was erratic with quite a number of stalemates.

However, Roberto Mancini looks set to guide City to a Champions League berth with some consistent performances of late.

Carlos Tevez's emergence as a prolific striker has helped them to intimidate any opposition. Alongside him is another great goalscorer, Emmanuel Adebayor. Although, Adebayor is hated by Arsenal fans, he's one of the standout strikers in the Premier League.

This game also marks a return of quite a number of ex-Arsenal players.There are as many as four ex-Arsenal players in the Manchester City squad. Viera, Toure, and Sylvinho all can expect a warm welcome back to Arsenal, but Adebayor may get a roasting from the Gunners faithful.

His antics in the first leg were unacceptable. Although the fans provoked him, he shouldn't have behaved them the way he did. Later, he was banned for a couple of games.

Now, he can expect a torrid time at the Emirates, and it all paves way for an entertaining game amid tense atmosphere.

On the other hand, Arsenal are struggling with injuries. Their inspirational captain, Cesc Fabregas' absence is not going to help in such a high-profile game.

But Wenger confirmed that Robin Van Persie is ready to start after making cameo appearances against Tottenham and Wigan.

He could start tomorrow and that will give a lot of confidence to his team-mates. Alex Song could also make a comeback after his injury, but it doesn't look likely.

Almunia's "mysterious injury" is not yet healed, and again the prospect of Lukaz Fabianski in front of the post signals danger. His howlers in big games have pushed his stock down.

Presently, he doesn't look anywhere near a Premiership goalkeeper. But still one man has immense faith in the young Pole's (in)abilities. Guess who? None other than Arsene Wenger. Wenger's decision to stand by his under-fire goalkeeper is bewildering to say the least.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the Wigan game would be the end of Fabianski. He will be up against Manchester City, but for me Vito Mannone looks like a better proposition.

And I am surprised that he's still not complaining about his position at the club. He's the third choice keeper at present, but the ones above him are clearly not any better.

I reckon the age factor plays a crucial role, and that's how Almunia and Fabianski get the nod ahead of Mannone. If it's based on performance, both should've left the club by now.

The same can be said about Denilson's selection ahead of Craig Eastmond. The former, even after having so much experience under his belt, is inconsistent.

He's clearly not equipped enough to play for a big club like Arsenal, and if the manager and certain quarter of fans still hasn't figured out his level, which is a step below the class of Arsenal, then the team is not going to progress any further.

Fortunately, Denilson is not fit enough to play tomorrow. If the players aren't making giant strides forward the team will not progress. Currently, a lot of time and resources are wasted for absolute scraps like Denilson, and this must stop if Arsenal are to win silverware once again.

Other problems causing concern are the lack of defenders. Both William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen are crocked, and the back-up players are Sol Campbell and Mikael Silvestre.

This "deadly combination" showed that even teams like Wigan could easily score three goals past them. Which team other than Arsenal will have players like Silvestre? Seriously, Wenger has to rethink his strategy in the summer, and the first person on the way-out list should be Silvestre.

The long-term absentee Djorou is on the verge of a come back and that would be a big relief. But it's too little too late with only three games to go.

The midfield is very weak without Fabregas, and Nasri has been miserable in the past couple of games. He must return to his best against City to really have any chance of winning the game.

With the return of Van Persie, we could find Bendtner back on the bench again. After a decent outing against Wigan, Walcott may start against City, but I feel Bendtner could be a better option on the right flank.

A win for Arsenal will ensure third-place, but the real competition is for the fourth spot. With Tottenham travelling to Old Trafford, Manchester City could boost their chances of finishing fourth by collecting all three points tomorrow.

After looking at the players available and the depth, Manchester City have a better chance of winning this game. Arsenal's defense is too fragile, and against a quality attacking side like City this weakness could be cracked open.

With both teams preferring an attacking style, we could be in for an attractive game. I am not going to predict anything, but I can't see Arsenal winning this game.


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