Daily Archives: April 8, 2012

10 Bold Predictions For Arsenal’s Crucial Clash Against Manchester City

His Royal Denchness will be missed

Back in December, Arsenal was on a blistering run of form before it ended abruptly in the hands of Manchester City. The game was an enthralling encounter that provided end to end football with the neutrals fully entertained.

Both teams needed victories for various reasons; Manchester City needed a win to go back to the top of the pile while the Gunners needed a victory to continue their resurgence to challenge for a Champions League spot.

A scrappy goal from David Silva was enough to hand the moneybags victory over Arsene Wenger’s side but the Gunners remained upbeat after the loss because the performance was good enough to hand them three points on another day.

Four months on, the Gunners are set to host the high-flying Manchester-based outfit but the stakes are a lot higher than when they met back in December. The Gunners need a victory to restore a two-point gap ahead of Tottenham while Manchester City need the victory to stay within touching distance of their arch rivals and table toppers, Manchester United.

The Gunners have won their last six matches at the Emirates, scoring 23 goals in the process, while City have taken maximum points in just two of their last nine Premier League away fixtures.

However, Arsenal have failed to score in five of their last six matches against Manchester City in all competitions, including the last three at the Emirates Stadium while Manchester City have failed to score in three of their last four Premier League games against the Gunners and each of their last four visits to the Emirates Stadium.

It’s also worth noting that Manchester City have won none of their last 26 away league games against Arsenal (W 0 D 8 L 18), but they managed a win at the Emirates in the Carling Cup this season.

All eyes will be firmly fixed on Arsenal’s talisman Robin van Persie, that has not scored Manchester City, Fulham and Wolves this season. He has added the remaining 16 teams in the Premier League to his personal hit list this season.

If he scores in this match, van Persie will become only the fourth player to score against 17 different teams in a Premier League season (after Cole 1993/94, Shearer 1994/95 and Wright 1996/97).

In the wake of Arsenal’s crunch clash against Manchester City, here are my top 10 predictions:

Robin van Persie Will Score

If there’s any player you can rely on to smash the back of the net for Arsenal, you can’t look no further than Robin van Persie. He has banged in 33 goals this campaign, with 26 scored in the Premier League.

Van Persie is rated highly by the media, the fans, his team mates and of course, his manager that has even backed him up to win the prestigious PFA Player of the Year award currently held by that Chimp, Gareth Bale.

Van Persie is currently going through a goal drought of three games without a goal but it’s worth noting that he has scored more goals in Stamford Bridge (3) than Fernando Torres all season long in his home ground. He has also scored more goals with his right foot than Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll and Torres using all their body parts this season.

Gervinho Will be Drafted Back to the Starting Lineup

Since his arrival from LOSC Lille Metropole, Gervinho was synonymous with the first team but he lost his place after returning from the 2012 African Cup of Nations. At first, he was replaced by the resurgent Ox but in recent times, Arsene Wenger has been using Aaron Ramsey as a winger which has been labelled as a failed experiment in my opinion.

With Ramsey incurring the wrath of Gooners worldwide as well as not justifying his selection on the left wing, Wenger is certain to draft Gervinho back into the team. The Ox can be used as an impact sub.

Kieran Gibbs Will be Favored Ahead of Andre Santos

Arsenal suffered a patchy loss of form in the start of 2012 and the lack of natural full backs certainly took its toll on the team. However, all full backs are back to optimal health and Andre Santos’ comeback  appearance against Aston Villa was a breath of fresh air.

Kieran Gibbs has managed to get a run of games under his belt and he has been very decent. Despite the fact that Andre Santos was the first-choice left back before his injury, Arsene Wenger will opt for Kieran Gibbs in a game of this magnitude.

Alex Song Will Stamp His Authority on the Game

Alex Song has become a potent creative force for Arsenal this season and he’s leading the club’s assist charts with 13 to his name. Despite the fact that he has added that attacking verve to his game, Song still remains a holding midfielder whose job is to break up play, keep the midfield’s balance and protect his back four.

Song is set to lock horns against midfield maestros like Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri but he’s certainly going to stamp his authority on the pitch when he plays against them.

Mario Balotelli  Would Stir Up Some Controversy

Mario Balotelli’s reputation precedes him as an arrogant, obnoxious and obstinate character and this Italian maverick will be odds on to add another controversy to his never-ending collection.

He certainly wouldn’t stop any press conference, throw darts or set up fireworks at the Emirates but he can give a recap of his free kick incident with his team mates when the visitors win get an infringement in a promising position.

What’s the point of being called Super Mario when you can’t fight your Bowsers here and there.

Joe Hart is Going to be on Fire

In his early years at the club, Joe Hart was second fiddle to Shay Given but a season-long loan move to Birmingham City gave him that much needed confidence as well as a great run of games. Hart returned to Manchester City reborn and Given had to pack his bags.

Against Arsenal, Hart has made some truly memorable saves and I can’t think of any better than that top drawer save he made from a Robin van Persie effort last season.

When both sides locked horns in December, Thomas Vermaelen thought that he had done enough to salvage a point for the Gunners but Hart took a split second to look through the crowd of bodies impeding his view before tipping the ball over.

I’m very positive that Hart will be on fire again when both teams clash.

David Silva Will Be Caged

David Silva has been Manchester City’s creative linchpin this campaign and he provided eight assists for his team mates in the first half of the season. In the turn of the year, Silva has created only four assists and I’m hugely tipping him to be locked in a steel cage by the defensive line when both team’s clash.

Arsenal can only leave David Silva at their own peril.

Tempers Will Flare Up

These are the kind of fixtures that makes the Premier League a great spectacle.

As Arsene Wenger explained, a draw is not good enough for them and it’s a must-win for his own team. We’ll expect to see the tackles flying in from the likes of Nigel de Jong and there’ll certainly be some time for theatrics from the likes of David Silva and Sergio Aguero.

However, this has it’s fair share of bad blood as three red cards have been brandished in the last three Premier League meetings between Arsenal and Manchester City.

With a card-happy referee like Martin Atkinson presiding over the game, we can expect a few bookings here and there.

Manchester City Will Score at the Emirates

In the introduction, I stated that Arsenal have failed to score in five of their last six matches against Manchester City in all competitions, including the last three at the Emirates Stadium while Manchester City have failed to score in three of their last four Premier League games against the Gunners and each of their last four visits to the Emirates Stadium.

Manchester City has slammed in 75 goals in the Premier League this season conceding just 25 while Arsenal has scored 62 goals but have shipped in 41 already. With capable and reliable forwards like Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli in the team, Manchester City are more than capable of breaking that duck at the Emirates,

And it will happen.

Arsenal Will Win the Match

Bear in mind that I’m no soothsayer or Voodoo priest but I believe that Arsenal is more than capable of defeating Manchester City in their own backyard.

Backing my claims with stats, Arsenal is the second most in-form team in the land with W’s enough to write the Wild Wild West twice, with an L on the front of course. Manchester City on the other hand, is the fourth form team with W-W-L-W-D-D.

After winning 18 and losing just one of the first 22 Premier League meetings, Arsenal have won just two and lost three of the last seven against Manchester City. It’s also worth noting that Arsenal have won 11 and lost one of their last 14 Premier League games at the Emirates.

I wrote earlier that Manchester City have won none of their last 26 away league games against Arsenal (W0 D8 L18) and since their last league win in October 1975, Manchester City have scored just nine goals in 26 visits to play Arsenal in north London.

These stats are too glaring and the odds are firmly stacked against the visitors following their poor record against their hosts.

These are just bold predictions from my personal point of view.

This game is certainly going to go down as one of the all-time greats.

A draw is not good enough for Manchester City and it’s a must-win for Arsenal.


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EPL: 5 Lessons From Saturday’s Premier League Fixtures

With Arsenal’s crucial clash against Manchester City taking place today, some fixtures played yesterday had gone a long way in shaping the destinies of various teams. It’s fair to say that Wolves are more or less doomed to relegation and one can extend the same pity to Bolton and Wigan that was a few minutes away from snatching a vital point from Chelsea in Stamford Bridge.

At the business end of the table, the gods heeded to my pleas for Tottenham to drop more points but the same couldn’t be said about Chelsea and Newcastle, that are now two points away from Arsenal’s coveted fourth place position.

Seven Premier League fixtures took place yesterday but those bookies that hoped for shock results were left with eggs thrown on their faces. Without further ado, here are the lessons learned from today’s fixtures.

Wolverhampton Wanderers will be Relegated

After going through a very putrid run of form, Sunderland parted ways with Steve Bruce. Martin O’ Neill came in his stead  and changed the fortunes of the club for good. Wolves also had a bad run of form and the 5-1 loss to West Brom at home was the last straw for Mick McCarthy, that was duly sacked shortly afterwards.

Terry Connor arrived in Wolves with the uphill task of keeping the club afloat from relegation waters but his team currently leads the form table from behind with more L’s than Fernando Llorente could possibly hope for.

At this rate, Wolves will surely be destined for relegation.

The Britannia Stadium Still Remains a Fortress

The Britannia Stadium is owned by those goons that have found a way to unite rugby with football but there’s no denying that it’s a feared ground in the Premier League. Arsenal has certainly had its troubles there while the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea have gained reputable draws in the past.

Stoke is unbeaten in its last four games at home and the ground witnessed a Goal of the Season contender from Peter Crouch a few weeks back. Struggling Wolves visited the ground today but goals from Robert Huth and Crouchy sealed their fate.

Stoke’s form at the Britannia Stadium has been the principal reason why they are still a safe mid-table outfit because they don’t fare too well on their travels.

Arsenal would play Stoke in the Britannia Stadium at some point this season. That’s a game I’m certainly not looking forward too. 🙁

Bolton and Wigan May Join Wolves in the npower Championship Next Season

Since I’ve more or less doomed Wolves to relegation, they’ll have to find two partners to join them in the gallows come May.

Blackpool wowed the Premier League last season with an adventurous style of play that was lauded by many and the performances of DJ Campbell and Charlie Adams didn’t go unnoticed as they currently serve new employers. Despite their exciting play, Blackpool joined Birmingham and West Ham as the three worst teams of the League last season.

This campaign, Bolton, Queens Park Rangers, Blackburn and Wigan Athletic are locking horns to avoid relegation and the way they are mentioned in the list is also the way they are positioned on the log table respectively.

However, I’ve learnt that Bolton and Wigan would be the teams to join Wolves in the relegation zone at the end of the season. Bolton aren’t doing badly in the form guide (three wins and three losses) but their 3-0 reverse scoreline to Fulham showcased their inconsistency that could prove vital in the run-in.

As expected, Wigan’s form has been in shambles but they shocked the football world with a famous 2-1 win against Liverpool in Anfield.

They were faced with an uphill task to avoid dropping points in Stamford Bridge and Mohamed Diame’s goal in the 83rd minute seemed enough to salvage a crucial point for Wigan. Juan Mata struck right at the death and one point changed to zero in the twinkle of an eye.

That’s clearly not good enough in my opinion.

Liverpool’s Recent Form is an Aberration

Roy Hodgson had a great job at Fulham. He saved them from relegation before surprising the football world by guiding them into the inaugural Europa League final against Atletico Madrid. The enticing offer of managing an illustrious side like Liverpool came his way and he did what many managers in his shoes would have done.

Hodgson managed Liverpool for 20 League games, winning seven, drawing four and losing nine. In his 10 home league games, Liverpool scored 17 goals, conceded eight and recorded four clean sheets in the process. His home form also saw Hodgson notch up six wins, two draws and two losses.

It was a different ball game away from Anfield. Liverpool scored a meager seven goals and conceded 19. It was a run that saw Hodgson’s team pick up one win, two draws and seven losses.

After picking up 1.25 points per game, Liverpool ended Wily Ol’ Woy’s reign at Anfield. It’s worth noting that Manchester United averaged 2.20 points, Manchester City averaged 1.91 points, Arsenal averaged 1.90 points and Tottenham averaged 1.71 points over the same period.

King Kenny Dalglish came with his calvary and made a very good account of himself in his messiah-like second coming. He also grabbed the headlines after his transfer dealings that saw Fernando Torres move to Chelsea for a British record transfer fee and Andy Carroll arrive at Anfield with one hell of a price tag.

After his splurge in the summer, Dalglish assembled a squad that he felt was good enough to challenge for the Premier League. If you take a very nice look at the Premier League’s form table, Liverpool is currently the second worst team in the league with four losses in their last six games.

King Kenny’s Red Army have picked up six points from a possible 18 at home and just three points from a possible 18 away.

Perfect return for £126m spent over the past year or so.

The Remaining Champions League Spots…”Are Up For Grabs”

As a staunch Arsenal fan, this title has sent chills down my spine.

After enjoying what seemed like a cinderella-like fairytale run of form that saw Arsene Wenger’s men win seven on the trot, I and many Gooners out there believed that third place was “our right”. The fact that our club overturned a potential 13-point deficit to a three point gap over Tottenham certainly brought confidence levels that soared higher than the flying range of an eagle.

Queens Park Rangers came along and reality bit Arsenal really hard, then brought everyone concerned with the club down to Earth.

A three-point gap over Tottenham and an eight-point gap over Chelsea and Newcastle has been transformed to a one point deficit behind the Spuds and a two-point lead over the latter named clubs.

Chelsea and Newcastle are gaining momentum, so Arsenal and Tottenham will have to watch their backs as these clubs are breathing down their necks.

A bad result against Manchester City would bring every Gooner’s fears into a very harsh reality.

On this notion, it’s fair to say that the remaining Champions League spots are up for grabs.

There were so many lesson’s learned from Saturday’s fixtures, but these were my top five. Feel free to share yours with your comments.


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