The last time there was talk about Arsenal entering a potentially ‘critical’ run of games, the Gunners answered with aplomb. A comfortable win against Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium, a resilient one against Borussia Dortmund away and a narrow 1-0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford were the results of the last testing moment.
Besides the tired performance at Old Trafford, the performances have been more or less consistent. Now they face another couple of big games.
The Etihad Stadium maybe a hospitable place for spectators, but they seem to be the very opposite on the pitch. Merciless massacres by Manchester City have been the norm. There are so many games that are challenging, but getting a result against City seems to be the toughest frontier for Premier League sides this season.
Arsenal reached England on Thursday morning after a 2-0 defeat in Naples. They are not blessed with the huge squad that City have and acing Manuel Pellegrini’s side in a Saturday afternoon kick-off will be one hell of a challenge.
Manchester City, on the other hand, will be bouncing into the game after a brilliant 3-2 comeback win against the defending European Champions in their own backyard. To top it all, key men, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure will be fresh after playing no part in the game against Bayern Munich.
City’s home form has been perfect, with seven wins out of seven in the league. However, the positive counterpoint for Arsenal is that they have a wonderful away record in all competitions this season with 10 wins out of 12.
Arsenal’s midfielders against Fernandinho and Yaya Toure in the middle of the park will be one of the riveting sub-plots of the game. As will be the battle between Arsenal’s solid pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny versus City’s much vaunted strike force of Aguero and Alvaro Negredo.
It should be a wonderful spectacle from the neutral point of view, with both sides playing some eye-catching stuff (City at home, mostly) throughout the season.
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