Partey’s Injury Scare and Thoughts on Moises Caicedo

I had started the draft for this post on Saturday night, then decided to watch WWE’s Royal Rumble in the early hours of Sunday morning. From 2.00am to 6.30am to be exact. Then I went to church and when I returned home, there was no difference between me and a polar bear that was set to go into hibernation.

So I slept, and slept, and yeah, slept. And woke up in the late hours of Sunday evening, and yeah slept some more.

When Arsenal visited the Etihad Stadium to take on the Juggernaut called Man City, it was inevitable that it was going to be an intense game and even if Mikel Arteta’s men fell short after 90 minutes, it was evident that the gulf in quality between both sides have become very close and Arsenal have massively improved under the tutelage of their Spanish head coach. When Thomas Partey was substituted at half time for Albert Sambi Lokonga, I was somewhat concerned about it and shortly after the game, there were all sorts of rumors circulating that the Ghanaian maestro had picked up and injury that would keep out for six weeks, that sent the Goonersphere into meltdown.

The manager confirmed after the game that Partey was going for a MRI scan to verify the extent of the damage to his ribs. The latest reports emanating is that Partey will be fit to play Everton but it just goes to show that Arsenal is walking on a tight rope with Partey, especially with the fact that Mohamed Elneny is out for a long time and Sambi Lokonga continues to put up underwhelming performances.

Arsenal has been heavily linked with several defensive midfielders this window, and the latest target was Brighton’s Moises Caicedo, the 21-year-old Ecuadorian that has taken the Premier League by storm with his fledgling performances for the outfit. Just like Leandro Trossard before he joined the Gunners, Caicedo took to social media to issue a ‘come and get me plea’ to Arsenal, as well as a ‘let me go’ statement to his parent club. It was clearly ill-informed on his part, but then again, Trossard’s antics in the earlier part of the fueled the fire that was used to burn the bridges he had at Brighton, but with the emergence of the electric Kaoru Mitoma and Trossard having just a year left, Brighton were somewhat comfortable letting the Belgian maverick go to North London.

Caicedo, on the other hand, is a different ball game. He’s 21, has three years left on his contract and Brighton don’t have a ready made replacement in the squad (remember he was the in-house replacement for Yves Bissouma that joined Spurs last summer, so you can understand why the club is in no hurry to let go of his services, even though they didn’t need him in their FA Cup victory over Liverpool.

It has been reported that Arsenal made two bids for Caicedo – the first worth £60m and the improved offer worth £70m, and both have been rejected by Brighton, for a player they signed for £4m.

Arsenal will need to act fast and find a backup defensive midfielder with the handful of days left in the January transfer window, with their failed pursuit of Caicedo.

Sayonara.

Man City 1-0 Arsenal: Cityzens Edge Past Gunners

Watch Nathan Ake goal for Manchester City vs Arsenal in FA Cup - Futbol on  FanNation

Match Report – Match Highlights – Post-Match Press Conference (via Arsenal.com)

Final Result: Man City 1-0 Arsenal (Ake 64′)

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Turner; Tomiyasu, Holding (Saliba 46′), Gabriel, Tierney (Zinchenko 66′); Partey (Sambi Lokonga 46′), Xhaka; Saka (Odegaard 74′), F. Vieira, Trossard (Martinelli 66′); Nketiah

The biggest talking points about the heavyweight clash between Man City and Arsenal was going to be the team selection, and Pep Guardiola left no stone unturned as he fielded a fully-fledged first team lineup with Erling Haaland leading the line. Mikel Arteta on the other hand made wholesale changes from the nerve-racking win over Manchester United, giving starts to Matt Turner in goal, Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Rob Holding in defense, Fabio Vieira as the creative hub of the team, and Leandro Trossard earning his full first team debut.

Despite Man City having more possession in the final third, Arsenal had the better chances in the proceedings and almost got the lead from an unlikely source when Tomiyasu was clean on goal at the edge of the box and put his laced through the ball, but Stefan Ortega was on hand to make a strong save. Trossard was close to opening his goalscoring account with a left footed goal bound drive but Ortega was on hand yet again to make a superb save.

There were couple of times when Matt Turner was called into action, but the theme of the first half was the battle between Haaland and Holding. The Viking forward got the better of the Saxon defender times without number, to the point, Holding earned himself a booking, then I started getting some White Hart Lane vibes from last season when the defender was sent off for two bookable offenses.

At the start of the second half, Arteta made two changes that had a direct influence on the game, with William Saliba replacing Holding and Albert Sambi Lokonga replacing Partey.
Lokonga has been getting some stick from the Arsenal faithful following his inconsistent performances, and he was on show yesterday, putting up another questionable display that would do nothing to help his cause.

The deadlock was finally broken from an I unlikely source after some good work from Jack Grealish on the byline, he fed Nathan Ake that used his weaker foot to cushion the ball past Turner in the Arsenal goal. Ake was having a stormer in left back, quelling the threat of the usually dangerous Bukayo Saka.

Arteta summoned the calvary with Oleksandr Zinchenko, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard entering the fray, but Man City held to see the game through.

In the end, the stats showed how it was a very tight contest with Man City have eight shots with three on target, while Arsenal had five shots with two on target. The xG data was very close with Man City edging Arsenal with 0.51 to 0.35.

This is certainly a precursor to the all important clash in mid-february, but it’s fair to say that Round One of this boxing clash has gone to Man City. Mikel Arteta spoke about how proud he was of his players, and from the game it was very evident that they gave a very good account of themselves against the best team in the land. 

Arsenal has two fixtures against Everton, who are close to appointing the agent of Satanball, Sean Dyche, as well as hosting the impressive Brentford that beat Man City in their home turf, before hosting the Cityzens.

With the FA Cup out of the picture, Arsenal has only the League and Europa League to compete, and Arteta will want his charges to go all the way in both competitions.

Sayonara.

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Manchester City vs. Arsenal – Round One

Arsenal, Manchester City 'agree £30m Oleksandr Zinchenko deal' - Sports Mole

Formerly opponents, now teammates

The FA Cup Fourth round tie between Manchester City and Arsenal are in more ways than one synonymous to a three rounds heavyweight fight between two fierce boxers, and the spectators know fully well a knock out is imminent and very close by, indeed. Arsenal has emerged as the biggest threats to Manchester City title defense and it’s expected that these juggernauts are likely to meet each other in other domestic competitions. 

The last time Arsenal and Manchester City locked horns in the latter stages of the FA Cup, ex-captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, was the hero, scoring a brace which sent the Gunners to the finals of the tournament, before the captain was on song again in the finals against Chelsea.

Following Arsenal’s FA Cup triumph in the 2019-20 campaign, the Gunners failed to defend the trophy in the next season, losing to Southampton in the fourth round, while Manchester City went all the way to the semifinals and lost to eventual losing finalists, Chelsea. Last season, Arsenal dropped off at the first hurdle, losing to Nottingham Forest, while Manchester City went all the way to the semifinals again, and bowed out to Liverpool in a pulsating encounter. 

The cup tie is the very first round where both fighters throw jabs and shuffle around, aiming to test the strength, observe any weakness, and no one is particularly in a hurry to go for the jugular. Arsenal and Manchester City also have another date with destiny in mid-February, which is certain to have a greater impact than tonight’s clash in the FA Cup. This is the first meeting between the two sides this season, with Arsenal being in superb form, and Mikel Arteta will be looking to get one over his counterpart, Pep Guardiola when they lock horns once again.

Manchester City will welcome an in-form Arsenal side, who dispatched lower-tiered Oxford United in the previous round of the competition, before recently posting victories over fierce local rivals, Tottenham, and eternal rivals, Manchester United, in what could potentially go down as the match of the season contender.

Manchester City come into the match after a rather surprisingly comfortable drubbing of Chelsea in the previous round, and they will be more than to glad to see top marksman and runaway golden boot winner, Erling Haaland, back among the goals as he banged a hattrick at the weekend to see off a hapless Wolves side.

To team news, Manchester City’s midfield maestro, Phil Foden, is a doubt with a foot injury, but the likes of Kyle Walker and Bernardo Silva are expected to start after they only made the bench in the 3-0 victory over Wolves. Stefan Ortega has been the cup keeper this season, and I’d expect him to get the nod over Ederson, while World Cup winning forward, Julian Alvarez , could continue up front with Erling Haaland.

Arteta might shuffle the pack slightly, bringing in the likes of Takehiro Tomiyasu and Emile Smith-Rowe that is due for a start after quite a lengthy injury layoff. New kid on the block, Leandro Trossard, will be expected to make his full debut after impressing in his cameo against Manchester United.

Manchester City vs Arsenal Predicted Lineups

Manchester City: Ortega; Walker, Dias, Akanji, Ake; Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Haaland, Alvarez.

Arsenal: Turner; Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka, Smith Rowe; Trossard, Nketiah, Vieira.

Injury / Suspension Updates

Manchester City: Phil Foden (foot)

Arsenal: Mohamed Elneny (knee), Reiss Nelson (thigh), Gabriel Jesus (knee)

Form Guide

Manchester City Form

  • Last Five Games:  W L L W W
  • Last Result: Man City 3-0 Wolves (Haaland 40′, 50′ (pk), 54′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Erling Haaland (31)

Arsenal Form

  • Last Five Games: W D W W W
  • Last Result: Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United (Nketiah 24′, 90′, Saka 53′ | Rashford 17′, Martinez 59′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Eddie Nketiah (9)

Gooner Daily predicts a 2 – 2 draw.

Kick Off – 9.00pm (GMT +1) at Etihad Stadium.

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