Five wins from the last nine League games is the reading on the form book for Arsenal which is not too bad. But in the last 11 against teams who finished in the top four last season, Arsenal have won zero and if that argument is to stop of Arsene Wenger’s ability to win the game of wits against the big teams, something has to be done different in Sunday’s clash with City.
Keep the Experienced Team
It’s good to know that in a week where we’ve had to concede one more defender to a long-term injury absence, a host of players will be adding a breath of fresh air to out midfield after serving out extended spells of theirs. But while the replacement for Debuchy will surely mean a necessary change for our defence, there is no reason to require any wholesale shuffle in other areas of the pitch. Arsenal have played Coquelin, Rosicky and Cazorla have started the last two games and they have looked a working combination, Rosicky especially showing good understanding with Alexis on several occasions, even back to the QPR game on Boxing Day. He may be 34 for but on his day, he as youthful as the youngest midfielder in the Arsenal team. And as for Cazorla, he hasn’t stopped improving since he joined the 30s club. That said, form and ability will have to count for Coquelin against Flamini, if not for anything…
He’s the man to mark Silva
Sergio Aguero is a hard man to contain but Silva has proven more of a handful to take care of and the three goals he’s scored since returning from injury show just how much of a threat he will be against us. Pellegrini will want him to combine with Nasri to break us down through the middle and it is common knowledge that its quite difficult to take the ball of their feet. With the exception of some really rash lunges against Hull, Coquelin has shown some dexterity in making intelligent interceptions as against the take ‘em down approach we’ve endured with Flamini. It may be a game where Arsenal can profit from counter attacks – the first goal in the meeting last season was scored from a ball stolen off the feet of Yaya Toure, speaking off which…
No Yaya! Yea!
If things had worked differently, it would be gooners grieving that the big Ivorian has gone off to the African Cup of Nations. City looked to be lacking some inspiration without him last week against Everton and it plays into Wenger’s hands to stir his players up enough to dominate the midfield in his absence. Perhaps Ramsey would have some role to perform here as Fernandinho and Fernando will be looking to get stuck into challenges as much as they can; the Welshman has a lot of defensive attributes that sometimes goes unappreciated.
Defending Set Pieces
Besides those two errors made at Southampton, it’s been pretty solid for Arsenal’s back four so far this year. Having said that, two of the last three goals to be conceded were from either a set piece or a floated ball and Wenger’s team would be in fourth place now if Demichelis had not been left to a free jump to equalize back then in September.
Beware of Lampard
He was ineffective at the Emirates but he has scored 6 at the Etihad. He has not ceased to be a ghost striker and he must never be left unattended, especially if he comes on as a late substitute.
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