Arsenal travel to Eastlands today to take on a new-look Manchester City team, who have started the season in fine form.
Mark Hughes’ ultimate aim is for his side to break into the top four this season and he has the Gunners firmly in his sights. Spending over £120 million on players in the summer, including two from Arsenal, has made them a serious contender for a Champions League spot.
We will see Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure come up against the Gunners for the first time since leaving the club. After a frustrating season at the Emirates last term, both players have settled in well with their new team. Adebayor has scored in each of City’s three league games and Toure has formed a solid defensive partnership with Joleon Lescott. The Togo international will be itching to prove Arsenal fans wrong and put in a good performance against his former club.
With these added to the likes of Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry and Roque Santa Cruz, City now have a very strong squad. And with three wins out of three this season – although not convincing – they have made the perfect start.
Admittedly, the Citizens have yet to be tested and today’s match will show how much of a threat Hughes’ men will be to the big boys this season. With all the money spent by City, however, there is an added pressure on them and it remains to be seen if they can continue their form throughout a gruelling Premier League campaign.
Arsenal started the season in blistering form with big wins over Everton and Portsmouth before travelling to Old Trafford to face Manchester United. The 2-1 defeat was harsh on the Gunners, particularly in the manner of United’s goals – a disputed penalty and an Abou Diaby own goal. Despite the defeat, there were many positives for Arsene Wenger’s men, who should have got something out of the game.
Arsenal have self-destructed in the past, after a big setback like the Manchester United game. However, the international break has come at a good time and has given the players a chance to get a disappointing defeat out of their systems.
A host of players from both Arsenal and Manchester City were away with their respective countries this week. The good news is that the majority of Gunners players returned back home in one piece. Wenger, however will be fuming at the fact that Andrey Arshavin played a full game for Russia against Wales, aggravating a groin injury in the process and ruling him out of Arsenal’s next three fixtures.
On a more positive note is the return of Tomas Rosicky who played the first hour for the Czech Republic in a 7-0 victory over San Marino. The midfielder is set to return to the Arsenal squad on Saturday. Theo Walcott is yet to feature this season due to a back injury, but the England international should be back in contention soon – however, the Manchester City game may come too quickly for him.
Arsene Wenger’s side will be looking to make amends for last season’s trip to Eastlands where they were comfortably beaten 3-0. Both teams have started this season well however, so expect a much closer match. It could be the perfect opportunity for Arsenal to bounce back from their defeat to the other team in Manchester last weekend. At the same time though, City will be looking to show the rest of the Premier League that they are good enough to mix it with the big boys.
Todays’s game should be an intriguing match between two sides who have an abundance of attacking talent. However, it might just be the team that defends better that wins the game. New signing Thomas Vermaelen has started his career at the Emirates, as if he’s been there for years. He also seems to be getting the best out of his defensive partner, William Gallas. Both defenders will have to be at their best though if the likes of Robinho and Adebayor are in the right frame of mind.
City have yet to concede a goal in the league this season but with Arsenal scoring goals for fun at the moment, it could be a different story. Toure and Lescott are looking impressive, although the latter has already seen Arsenal hit six against him, at Everton on the opening day.
Expect a close game between two clubs who will be battling it out with one another all season. Both sides are blessed with an array of attacking talent and one piece of individual brilliance could prove to be the difference between the two teams, and earn his side all three points.