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