Within the coming weeks in the Premier League, we will discover just how consistent Arsenal can be with games against Manchester City, Leicester City, Manchester United, and Aston Villa. Next up is the Arsenal vs Manchester City fixture. The Citizens have been severely hampered this campaign leaving Pep Guardiola fairly short of experience but not quality.
As a result, the Arsenal vs Manchester City game should be an interesting and reasonably open contest that will require masses of concentration and resilience. Yes, City are still potent in attack but the defence has a vulnerability about it, and if Willian/Pepe and Ceballos/Partey can free up Aubameyang, who knows how this will end.
The big question is will Arsenal’s latest purchase Thomas Partey be included and if so, who will be alongside him? If the former Atletico Madrid powerhouse doesn’t get the nod, it will be a huge surprise because he is good to go in just about every way possible and this is the ideal game for him to cut his teeth.
There are other intriguing questions such as who will partner Partey, now that he has spoken of his admiration for Xhaka? Theoretically, Partey could be the key to unleashing Ceballos in a more advanced and creative position, but Arteta will have some difficult decisions to make across the team including formation. Will he stick with three at the back, change to a back four, or five when in retreat? Very intriguing.
Partey will certainly add the bite that Arsenal have lacked in these types of games for several years but Partey isn’t just a spoiler who breaks up and stops attacks, he’s a well rounded, intelligent, and gifted player that will give Arsenal some extra zing going forward.
I remember a particular Arsenal player who could do both with equal panache. Who could get back when needed, give a physical edge to the rearguard, but also someone who could embark on accelerated runs through the middle to find the opposition’s net. That player was Patrick Vieira and Thomas Partey bares more than a passing resemblance in his style but minus the rangy physique.
I’m not after a Vieira Mark 2, more of a Partey mark 1, but let’s remember that the time to establish himself has been extremely short, but I’ve no doubt that we will certainly see glimpses of what he has to offer. This isn’t all about the newbie, the Arsenal vs Manchester City game comes after another annoying international break and the promise of more interludes continues to frustrate and irritate. Both sides have had plenty of time to look at their options and finalise their game plans, but don’t expect much change in the way of style or purpose.
City have just suffered a poor season by their standard and they have more injury concerns including Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne. Raheem Sterling pulled out of international duty as a precaution but it’s reported that he may still play a part in this contest. Likewise for Sergio Aguero, who might be available for selection for the match at the Emirates.
De Bruyne would be a massive loss, he has been without question, the best player in the Premier League for two or three seasons and he is the player that makes Guardiola’s side tick. If he does play, the contest between himself and Thomas Partey is yet another valid reason to get genuinely excited about the Arsenal vs Manchester City fixture.
Problems To Solve:
The biggest conundrum facing Mikel Arteta is how to get more from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has been quiet of late. That will only change if the gunners give him the right level of quality service. It’s been extremely poor recently, mainly due to the efforts of well-drilled oppositions, but the Gunners need to cut him loose.
Elsewhere, if there is a back three, does it include Gabriel, Luiz, and Holding or Gabriel, Luiz, and Kolasinac? I’ll break that down later in the piece. Then there’s the choice between Lacazette, Nketiah, or Aubameyang for the central striker role. Lastly, will Willian or Pepe continue to avoid each other consistently in the same team?
Thoughts On The Arsenal vs Manchester City Match:
Expect a difficult but competitive first 45 to establish supremacy, with Arsenal having less possession and looking to cut free via the flanks and the middle. This could end up as a draw but I’ve got a feeling that a 2-1 scoreline is more likely.
Which way? Well, of course, I’d like it to be in Arsenal’s favour, but the Arsenal vs Manchester City contest could be decided on who makes the least errors under intense pressure. So let’s take in the job of Mikel Arteta and predict the team with the reasons for their inclusion.
Team Selection For The Arsenal vs Manchester City Game:
Leno in front of the goal of course. The German has been in fine form, reminding fans that they had another shot-stopper before Emi Martinez.
Holding gets the nod but only just in this back three, minus a self-isolating Kieran Tierney. Holding struggles at times against pace, but the thought of Kolasinac with Luiz and Gabriel on the left frightens me to death. I’d rather Arsenal went with Maitland-Niles than the hulking Bosnian, with a bull in a china shop mentality.
Luiz, the hero or jester, sometimes both, holds the centre-ground and I’m expecting him to give a good performance in the light of his catastrophic appearance against a City side, where he previously gift-wrapped a goal and earned a red card.
Gabriel is the natural choice in any back three. Competent, assured, and combative, the youngster has been the pick of the backline with his recent appearances. I love his determination and physicality.
In the middle, it’s Ceballos slightly in advance of Thomas Partey as a duo of creative flair and robust defence. This combination is exciting with defensive options still on the bench (Xhaka and Elneny), but this is all about providing penetration in attack and getting the ball moving forward quickly.
Ceballos provides some artistry but he has been heavily restricted by their weak defence. Partey’s introduction gives him substantial back up in the form of a substantial-quality upgrade. Xhaka should be concerned. I’ve said enough about Partey in recent weeks, so let’s wait to analyse the performance.
Bellerin has had his critics but he still provides great zest in attack and offers balance to the side. No contest, the Spaniard starts!
On the other flank, Saka is a no brainer, the kid is on fire and his confidence is through the roof. At this rate, in two seasons, he will be unstoppable and firmly established in the Arsenal first team. He is creative and provides a killer ball through to the strikers. The one thing he does need but it’s not going to happen in a hurry, is a fixed position. Knowing his permanent role would give him an even stronger cutting edge in my opinion.
Upfront, it’s the usual trio of Willian, Lacazette, and Aubameyang. Only Aubameyang is truly safe out of the three and there are as many reasons for inclusion as well as exclusion but on the negative side, Lacazette has squandered several opportunities in front of the goal and needs to be clinical against this type of opposition.
His work rate is exceptional and his ability to link up with others by holding the ball is his strength, but Nketiah is breathing down his neck. The Frenchman needs a good outing to avoid a place on the bench.
Likewise, Willian needs to remind us why he should keep Pepe from playing. In all fairness, Willian has worked tirelessly out of possession, but he needs to impose himself going forward. Unless you watch the replays of recent games, focusing solely on the Brazilian, he becomes fairly anonymous and unfit for purpose but once again, that’s due to the commitment of the opposition.
Aubameyang needs the service and here we are again, saying the same things over and over. The balance isn’t quite right at present and I’m starting to think that in the long-term, Lacazette may lose his central role to facilitate the maximum return from the captain.
Teams tend to smother the flank when he’s there, negating any possible threat, either Arsenal start putting balls into the space behind the defence or he comes inside to punish mistakes in the opposition defence. So after all that, let’s make a final choice
Leno; Holding, Luiz, Gabriel; Bellerin, Ceballos, Partey, Saka; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
I’m going to be overly optimistic here and predict an Arsenal victory.