Arsenal-Manchester City: Match Preview, Predicted Line Up. The Harder They Come, the Harder They Fall.

They tell me of a pie up in the sky…

Hosting Manchester City, given Arsenal’s run of dismal form–and placed on top of the poisoned atmosphere surrounding our club–seems a very tough assignment.  Hope, while not much of a plan, might be all we have to rely upon.

It’s only been nine years since the crown prince of Abu Dhaby, Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, began pouring his oil riches into Manchester City Football Club.  As such, Blue Mooners sing a far different tune these days and happily travel to away games against other top English clubs.  For Sunday’s match, they will surely be in good voice as we hope Gooners will be as well.  Unfortunately, especially if the bounces don’t go our way, some of our own supporters might have some songs of their own (to go with the banners) demanding the exit of manager Arsene Wenger.  Some might go as far as hoping for defeat.  Tension reigns, and most will pray that Wenger and his players can turn things around.  Our record against the big teams–and recently against some smaller ones too–doesn’t bode well.  The stakes, in many ways, could not be higher.

Wenger, now in his 21st season at Arsenal, is under crushing levels of pressure, but Pep Guardiola, in his inaugural campaign, has seen his club fail to perform to the high levels his hiring might have inspired.  A dozen points behind league leaders Chelsea and out of the Champions League after giving up a 2 goal first leg advantage to Monaco could not have been what Pep envisioned as his first English winter gives way to spring.  Those facts, plus drawing at home in their most recent pair of league outings (vs Stoke and Liverpool) suggest that there’s work to do at the club.  Personnel changes and further reaching into the prince’s deep pockets will be sure to come in the summer.  In the meantime, there should be no lack of motivation for the team as a result at Arsenal would be a great way to signal their intention to keep us on the outside in the battle for top 4 positions and help City ensure another go at the Champions League.  It would also set them up well for our rematch in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley in three weeks time.

With the exception of long term injuries to Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel de Jesus, Guardiola should have all his players ready to go.  In attack, that means choosing among the likes of Kun Aguero, David Silva, Kevin DeBruyne, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Mane.  Midfield is anchored by Fernando, Fernandinho and Yaya Toure, while the fullback positions feature former Gunners Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna.  Central defense might be Pep’s only real worry.  John Stones–a player many Gooners wanted at our club–is still just 22 and prone to the odd mistake.  Nicolas Otamendi hasn’t made a CB position his own, and, at times, has lost his spot to Aleksandar Kolorav, not the biggest defender, but one who possesses a deadly left foot at free kicks.  In goal, Claudio Bravo has had a difficult first season in England but Willy Caballero has proven a fine shot stopper in his stead.  Even if Pep is sure to bolster his squad over the summer, it’s already an intimidating group.

To counter it, Wenger will likely try to play his most talented available players.  His hand is forced at goalkeeper where Petr Cech is not recovered from a calf injury suffered in our last match at West Bromwich Albion, meaning David Ospina will start.  Beyond that, there could be some questions for the manager, but here is the starting 11 I’m predicting:

Ospina

Bellerin–Mustafi–Koscielny–Monreal

Xhaka–Ramsey

Oxlade-Chamberlain–Ozil–Welbeck

Alexis

Substitutes: Martinez, Gabriel, Gibbs, Coquelin, Elneny, Walcott, Giroud

For those obsessed by formations, it might also be written as a 4-3-1-2 with the Ox shifting back into a midfield three and Welbeck moving forward to pair with the free roving Alexis up front.  Mesut Ozil, hopefully recovered from a minor knock–and feelings expressed by his agent that too much of the wrath of Arsenal fans is focused upon him–must, in my opinion, engineer our attack from the #10 position.

Of course, what do I know?  Wenger may have other plans, as might many a Gooner.

Certainly the pressure will be on the beleaguered manager to get it right.  Results have been miserable and speculation about whether or not he’s already put pen to paper on a two-year contract extension have made his critics apoplectic.  There’s no one to check his power at the club and results have been of the sort that would have most managers receiving the sack.  Arsenal and Arsene are, well, different, for better and/or worse, all depending on your perspective.  (For a longer read on that subject, please see the previous post.)

Perhaps the size and strength of the rival will inspire the team and the support to play (or sing) their hearts out for the manager.  The importance of the match cannot be stressed enough.  Arsenal need to win both their games in hand to find parity on points with 4th place Liverpool and trail ManCity and Tottenham by even larger margins, 7 and 9 points respectively, with only a single game in hand.  And then there’s the rematch in the FA Cup at Wembley with the result here sure to set the stage.  Ahead of a very busy league schedule–we host West Ham on Wednesday and then face consecutive Monday night matches at Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough–Arsenal must turn their form around in this match if they wish to retain any real hope to stop the rot and have a successful run-in.  Even the rosiest scenario–a top 4 finish and winning the FA cup–might not be enough for the most virulent Wenger haters, but it would likely go a long way towards placating many Gooners and raise hopes for keeping our best players (and attracting new ones) over the summer.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace

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93 Responses to Arsenal-Manchester City: Match Preview, Predicted Line Up. The Harder They Come, the Harder They Fall.

  1. allezkev says:

    Chelsea 1-2 CPalace, that’s why we all love football.
    Nothing is ever certain, now let’s see the Gunners turn it around tomorrow.

  2. Admir says:

    I’ll just post my reply from the last post here:

    “Nice one, 17.

    I’m with James when he makes a division of Wenger’s era in three different periods.

    When it comes to transfers, Dein was the one who actually knew football unlike Gazidis who is totally focused on marketing deals and doesn’t look like a guy who would know the difference between 3-5-2, 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 unless it’s a code for the installment rates. Now, I apologize in advance for the length of this response because it’s getting big now.

    1) If we take a look at our transfers at the first part of Wenger’s era (1996-2003), we will notice his desire to bring French talents (Vieira and Anelka) and already established French players (he had worked with Petit and Henry at Monaco) to the extent players from other clubs had doubted the quality of their own French arrivals “because if they had been good, Wenger would have already signed them” (Houllier). Also, he signed established players of other nationalities (Campbell and Suker on a free transfer, Van Bronckhorst) even if they had represented a huge injury risk (Overmars would have been signed by Ferguson if he hadn’t been warned about Overmars’ injuries and if certain kid named David hadn’t made a breakthrough while another former Ajax-man Kanu had a heart condition that probably influenced on Inter Milan’s decision to sell him). Wenger made very few wrong calls during this period and perhaps two worst decisions were regarding signings of two English players (Richard Wright and Francis Jeffers) while opting against free-signings of Yaya Toure and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I’d put a mark on this era with the arrival of Jens Lehmann in the summer 2003. It was the first time I had been suspicious about Wenger’s transfer as I knew how crazy Jens had been during his Bundesliga days but I was proven wrong with Jens making a lot of brilliant saves in our Invincible season. Maybe he could have done better with that Makelele’s shot before Lampard’s equalizer in the Champions League quarterfinals but…

    During this era Wenger made a few brilliant purchases of young players (Ljungberg, Kolo Toure, Anelka). When it comes to the infamous “he-just-inherited-Graham’s-defence”-line, it’s a very questionable one. Yes, he did inherit The Back Five but it was Wenger – not Graham – under whom Arsenal had had the best defensive record ever in the Premier League era (17 goals shipped in 1998-99) until Mourinho’s Chelsea broke it in 2004-05 (15 goals shipped, 29 clean sheets).

    2) I think that second era in Wenger’s transfers had started with the arrival of Jose Antonio Reyes in January 2004 and lasted until the summer 2013 – also known as “The Stadium Debt Is A Chain Around The Ankles”-era. It was the first big Wenger’s transfer and the one with a long-term prospect in mind but due to various reasons it didn’t work out well for either side. In the summer we got Robin van Persie, another huge talent that came with a big luggage. With young Frenchman Mathieu Flamini arriving from Marseille and certain Spaniard making a breakthrough in the midfield, it was obvious Wenger was going for younger players with a resale value and different physical qualities to the ones he had been looking after between 1996 and 2003. Departure of Paddy Vieira in 2005 and arrival of Alex Hleb is a good example of the new policy. During that era, Wenger was focused on bringing young talents and signing experienced players only when he felt that plugging the holes is needed. The one big exception was Andrei Arshavin when Wenger had been scared we would miss the Champions League football.

    That second era could be divided in two different parts. The brighter one was until 2008-09 when most of his top purchases were made (Adebayor, Hleb, Rosicky, Ramsey, Diaby, Sagna) and the darker one was after Dein’s departure when Wenger lost on number of top players because Gazidis has never felt the need to push Wenger forward when he was dithering over a player. Let’s just name two players – Xabi Alonso and Hazard – who would have changed the course of Arsenal history. Wenger went for cheaper options incorrectly deciding to follow his favourite book “The Transfer Manual” from 1998. That’s why we got Gervinho and not Hazard. During the darker period, Arsenal had signed/promoted a few HG-players (Jenkinson, Chamberlain, Wilshere, Gibbs, Szczesny) that have never reached their full potential. In the latter era, however, we did pick a few players in their peak years without coming close to break the transfer record (Arteta, Mertesacker, Podolski, Cazorla, Giroud, Monreal).

    3) The third era is the one that started with Özil’s arrival but I’m afraid it will end this summer. That’s the first era in which Arsenal didn’t have to act defensively in the transfer market (as you might have remembered, in 1999 we lost Anelka to Real Madrid and in 2000 Petit and Overmars left Arsenal for Barcelona with Vieira being subjected to Ferguson’s sweet talk in 2001 and closer to the exit door than Alexis Sanchez is these days). We got Özil, Sanchez and Cech in three different transfer windows before making the biggest spending last summer to get Xhaka, Mustafi, Perez and Holding. Yes, we are still light years distant from the spending of Manchester City and Manchester United but we do spend a lot of money without recouping money from selling players.

    As one Yugoslav poet used to say: “Will the freedom be as beautiful as it was when the slaves sang about it?” We were all singing about the days when Wenger would be able to spend money only to find out a sad truth that, now that he has money to spend, he looks like he has lost the ability to spend it right way.

    There are trains that we have to catch in order to get on the desired destination. If Arsenal had signed Suarez in 2013… Or Xabi Alonso in 2009… Or Hazard in 2011… Too many wrong calls on big players have been made and the ones Wenger has gambled on have either betrayed him (van Persie, Fabregas) or haven’t reached their full potential or, even worse, have reached their full potential which is not good enough (Wilshere, Walcott, Chamberlain).

    Right now, Arsenal don’t look like a team with a bright future regardless of Wenger’s future. In fact, if Kroenke remains the majority owner for the next five years, I can see us falling closer to the level of Everton and, who knows, Aston Villa than to any of Manchester clubs, Liverpool, Chelsea and, gulp, Spuds.”

  3. Admir says:

    I would just add (yes, it wasn’t complete 😀 ) one more thing:

    Arsenal were the best when the manager had been getting the best out of 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 formation. Once the tactical trends had changed and 4-4-2 had been abandoned by most of the big clubs in order to get an extra man in the midfield, we have struggled in big matches because neither Fabregas-centered 4-3-3 nor Mesut-centered 4-2-3-1 have offered enough protection to our back four (because, you know, we can’t try the back three 😉 ), especially given that we don’t have a Wanyama-type of an enforcer in front of the back four.

    As any other creature of habit, Wenger has tried to return to the basics by switching Arsenal to 4-4-1-1 this season with Mesut emulating Dennis and Alexis emulating Henry. Whilst it did work as long as we had all our players fit, the problem was, there was neither Bobby P. nor Freddie Lj. on either wing to help them even if Theo and Iwobi did score/create a few goals. What is even more important, Nacho was nothing like Ashley Cole.

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Seventeenho. A win would be great but a draw wouldn’t be a disaster either. Don’t want to spend too many words on the game, and you have captured all there is to say.

  5. Pony Eye says:

    HT,

    A job well done, considering how tough it is these days producing balanced stuff on Arsenal. I have been agonizing on the best team to send out to face Man c. My confidence is flown away leaving me so scared. Tragically am a reflection of the team and they a reflection of me. We drain each other. We need leaders on the field and in the fandom. Let somebody stand up!

    In the reverse fixture that they won 2-1, we competed favourably in the first half but we couldn’t just escape their high press in the 2nd half as they pinned us back in our half ending up with a 61% possession in the match. This is what we have to avoid this time. Therefore I’d prefer that our emphasis shifts from a midfield tilted towards greater defending.to one tilted towards better transitioning of the ball to the forward areas (beating their high press). I choose Elneny to Coquelin as our deepest CMF.

    Man C plays attack heavy, leaving spaces in their defensive areas. We need more men in the midfield so a 4:3:3 appears to me the way to go. Playing Walcott in this kind of game is always a huge temptation, but the big worry is that the hiding Walcott could turn up. I would settle with Oxlade.

    If there was one game Giroud should have started it was against West Brom where we had 75% possession. If there is one he shouldn’t start it is against Man c. All the same, against Man c, Sanchez will cut a lonely figure as a striker which we all know frustrates him to the extent of taking it out on his team mates. Welbz was poor as the striker against West Brom, but this time there will be plenty of space for him to utilize his pace against the city defense.

    Ozil needs to play in a deeper position. He needs to have more men ahead of him to maximize his creative talents. Time we give up on a goal scoring Ozil. Thus our set up becomes more of a 4:2:1:3 with Ozil as the1.

    Expected line up:

    ———-Ospina———-
    Bel—Must—Kos—Nacho
    —–Elneny—-Rambo—–
    ————–Ozil————-
    Ox——–Welbz——-Sanchez

    Bench:- Martinez, Per, Gibbs, Coq, Xhaka, Walcott, Giroud.

  6. Pony Eye says:

    TA,

    My line up differs from yours in only Elneny for Xhaka. My thinking … defensively, imo, Elneny edges Xhaka. Offensively Xhaka is exquisite but he needs time and space to achieve that. When time and space (actually same thing) have been denied through intense high press, again imo, Elneny edges him.

    When under pressure our wide men (Sanchez and Ox) fall back, Ozil remains central and Welbz stays furthest up field.

  7. Waldo says:

    With this being Arsenal first of 3 match in 9 days, undoubtedly there most difficult fixture during that period and with Cech and Lucas out injured, the starting line up I would like to see versus Man City is:

    GK: Martinez (Ospina is too much of a liability aerially)

    RB: Debuchy (Bellerin is hugely overrated as RB and quite poor at basic defensive skills)

    CB: Mustafi (Along with Koscielny, Mustafi is still one of Arsenal’s top two central defenders)

    CB: Koscielny (Along with Mustafi, Koscielny is still one of Arsenal’s top two central defenders)

    LB: Monreal (Arsenal’s best left back both defensively and in terms of offensive output)

    LCDM: Xhaka (Arsenal’s best central midfield option in terms of a combination of defensive proficiency and long range transitional passing skills)

    CDM: Coquelin (Arsenal best central midfield option in terms of defensive proficiency)

    RCDM: Ox (Arsenal’s 2nd best central midfield option in terms of long range transitional passing skills and is showing much improved defensive proficiency)

    RW: Alexis (Arsenal’s 3rd most accurate right foot crosser of the ball behind Ox and Cazorla and Arsenal’s best dribbler)

    CF: Giroud (Arsenal best offensive header of the ball and most prolific goal scorer – 42% of games played)

    LW: Ozil (Arsenal’s most accurate left footed crosser of the ball behind Ox and Cazorla and Arsenal’s best dribbler

    In that setup I’m envisaging:

    1. Alexis and Ozil staying wide and forward along side Giroud in the CF role and trying to deliver accurate early crosses for Giroud to attack.

    2. The back seven keep it nice and simple by focusing on maintaining their defensive structure and shape, staying compact, tackling and intercepting with Ox and Xhaka being the transitional outlets, by executing long range passes to the front three.

    3. If and when Arsenal are able to monopolise possession in the opposition’s half I’d like the see purposeful build up play with the primary aim of creating opportunities for Monreal and Ozil on the left and Sanchez and Debuchy on the right to deliver accurate crosses for Giroud to attack. Failing that I’d like to see Arsenal focus on creating long range shoot opportunities for Xhaka and Ox.

    Alternatively, if Arsenal want to play a quicker forward line, the starting lineup I’d like to see is:

    GK: Martinez
    RB: Debuchy
    CB: Mustafi
    CB: Koscielny
    LB: Monreal
    LCDM: Xhaka
    CDM: Coquelin
    RCDM: Ox
    RW: Alexis
    CF: Walcott
    LW: Ozil

    In that setup I’m envisaging:

    1. Alexis and Ozil taking turns coming in off their flank and dropping into the No 10 role when Arsenal attack; the other winger moving centrally to playing alongside Walcott as a strike duo; that striking duo making off the ball runs behind the opposition’s defensive line for the winger who has assumed the No 10 role to target with through balls.

    2. Again, the back seven keep it nice and simple by focusing on maintaining their defensive structure and shape, staying compact, tackling and intercepting with Ox and Xhaka being the transitional outlets, by executing long range passes to the front three.

    3. If and when Arsenal are able to monopolise possession in the opposition’s half I’d like the see purposeful build up play with the primary aim of creating long range shoot opportunities for Ozil, Xhaka, Ox and Alexis. The lack of a physically dominate striker greatly limits Arsenal’s effectiveness at scoring from crosses so some quick one twos to create the space give the aforementioned players shooting opportunities from outside the box is the best bet in my opinion.

    The main thing though from an attacking perspective with both of the above approaches is that if and when Arsenal are able to monopolise possession, they don’t get caught in the loop of continually recycling possession looking for a through pass to directly create a goal scoring opportunity. A high possession attacking approach typically results in the opposition crowding the penalty box (“parking the bus”) which effectively renders the use of through passes to be an extremely difficult means of creating clear cut goal scoring opportunities. Arsenal’s failure to accept that reality has caused serious problems with the side’s attacking effectiveness for months (and to be honest years). For me it’s one of the key reasons the number of goals scored by Arsenal have dried up from earlier in the season. I’m hoping for a more realistic attacking approach from the Gunners starting with the match versus Man City

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    Heh PE, how do you know my preferred line-up?! 😉

    Mine would actually be:
    Osp
    Bel-Must-Koz-Nach
    —-Xhaka–Elneny—
    Rambo-Ozil–Alexis
    ——-Welbeck——-

    That would boss the midfield pretty much with plenty of bite upfront.

  9. Waldo says:

    Sorry, in my above comment I meant to say that Ozil is Arsenal’s 4th best dribbler behind Alexis, Ox, Cazorla.

    Also PE in relation to your last post, the three signings I would like to see Arsenal make are Kurzawa, Gonalons and Illarramendi, integrated in a line up of:

    GK: Cech
    RB: Debuchy
    CB: Mustafi
    CB: Koscielny
    LB: Kurzawa
    RCDM: Illarramendi
    CDM: Gonalons
    LCDM: Xhaka
    RW: Sanchez
    CF: Giroud
    LW: Ozil

    In that setup I’m envisaging:

    1. Alexis and Ozil staying wide and forward along side Giroud in the CF role and trying to deliver accurate early crosses for Giroud to attack.

    2. The back seven keep it nice and simple by focusing on maintaining their defensive structure and shape, staying compact, tackling and intercepting with Illarramendi and Xhaka being the transitional outlets, by executing long range passes to the front three.

    3. If and when Arsenal are able to monopolise possession in the opposition’s half I’d like the see purposeful build up play with the primary aim of creating opportunities for Kurzawa and Ozil on the left and Sanchez and Debuchy on the right to deliver accurate crosses for Giroud to attack. Failing that I’d like to see Arsenal focus on creating long range shoot opportunities for Xhaka and Illarramendi.

    In terms of existing players who I think Arsenal should sell and why, I’d go with:

    – Ospina (Too much of a liability aerially)

    – Bellerin (Overrated RB who is quite poor defensively)

    – Jenkinson (For his sake more than anything else. His confidence has been shattered this season do to a lack of game time, despite some promising performance and Bellerin’s persistent struggles)

    – Gabriel and Mertesaker (Neither are good enough defensively)

    – Monreal (Only because of Kurzawa’s arrival and Gibbs being homegrown and only marginally worse defensively and offensively than Monreal)

    – Ramsey, Wilshere, Iwobi, Cazorla (Their respective skill sets and physical attributes simply don’t fit with the abovementioned tactical setup)

    – Sanogo, Welbeck and Walcott (Neither Welbeck nor Sanogo have the crossing or finishing skills to effectively contribute as part of a front three in the aforementioned tactical setup. As for Walcott, while he is a proven finisher, he would be behind Giroud and Perez in terms of the CF pecking order in my opinion, and his lack of ball control and inconsistent crossing ability means he would be ill suited to the RW role in the above mentioned setup and system of play.

    Also IMO unless Arsenal can recruit a player with the skill set of Kante (which I can’t identify) , I don’t see the Gunners being able to consistently win with only two CDMs.

  10. allezkev says:

    From an academy perspective, my biggest regret of this season has been the injury to Stephy Mavididi, who was at the time, tearing up trees at Charlton.
    A full season at The Valley and maybe Stephy could have been on the edge of integration into the senior squad?
    Now he’s lost a year from his career, not only in recovering his fitness but his confidence and we’ve gotta hope that his misfortune hasn’t affected his lightning pace.
    Much as injuries cost Benik Afobe at least two years from his fledgling career and lost him a yard of pace.

  11. 17highburyterrace says:

    Match day… Cheers for the comments…even if, of course, some of them are from the last post (Admir) and others look like they include a bit of cutting and pasting (Waldo) so that I’ve now read (on three occasions) that, “our back 7 need to keep things nice and simple”… among other things…

    I’m pretty sure I bungled the line-up again, leaving out Iwobi (again) as I have done in the past. There’s talk of Ramsey picking up some sort of knock so maybe Iwobi will fill in for him in some manner.

    Anyhow, I’m hopeful but also think this will be very, very difficult….

  12. 17highburyterrace says:

    Team news

    Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Coquelin, Walcott, Ozil, Welbeck, Sanchez. Subs: Gibbs, Gabriel, Giroud, Iwobi, Martinez, Elneny, Maitland-Niles.

    Man City: Caballero, Fernandinho, Stones, Otamendi, Clichy, Jesus Navas, De Bruyne, Silva, Sane, Sterling, Aguero. Subs: Bravo, Kompany, Zabaleta, Nolito, Kolarov, Delph, Toure.

    Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)

  13. 17highburyterrace says:

    So…. No Ramsey nor Ox anywhere in the 18… Thus only 9/11 (15/18) for me…

    City don’t have Bacary Sagna (nor Fernando) in their 18 and seem to be sporting a very attacking first 11…

  14. allezkev says:

    Outside the ground having a pint and an overpriced cheeseburger, which actually wasn’t bad, not aware of any demos and the general vibe is as it usually is.

  15. 17highburyterrace says:

    Which pub/burger place?…

    I guess you haven’t seen the van…

    Enjoy the match and keep the reports coming, Kev…

  16. Goonereris says:

    Read that both Ramsey and the Ox have picked up niggles on international duty. Just hope it isn’t long term.

    As for the game, sure it will be a hard one. For me, it all comes down to the players’ state of mind. They will crowd out the midfield, so we will need to fight for things in the middle but transition to attack quick time. I feel we can win it and start a run. COYG!

  17. TotalArsenal says:

    Enjoy the game, Kevski, and TV supporters too, of course! CoyrrgGs

  18. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey Goonereris… Our line-up looks good to me, while City’s is very aggressive… Jesus Navas at RB?

    We have kick-off and the stadium looks full, even at club level…

  19. 17highburyterrace says:

    End to end and City strike first… On their 3rd throughball in 5 minutes…

    1-nil through Sane… This could be a very long afternoon…

  20. AB says:

    Hi there HT. I’m just listening to the game on the radio. My brother is there at the game today. My nerves are shredded already. We need a slice of luck or something to get the team angry and at them

  21. 17highburyterrace says:

    Mustafi won the header from a City GK but left his position in doing so… Bellerin couldn’t quite cover and Ospina was in no man’s land…

    Not good, esp. as we now need to push forward to try and get it back level…

  22. 17highburyterrace says:

    2nd City goal only stopped by the post and an Ospina save…

    Sorry AB, the only angry folks in the stadium will be Gooners, I fear…

  23. AB says:

    Better cross our fingers for the luck then!

  24. 17highburyterrace says:

    Arsenal finally have a bit of the ball and Nacho is pulled down in the box but was offside… Nice pass from Alexis on the overlap…

    Alexis playing on the LW, Welbeck looks the CF…

    Bad Le Coq tackle after an Alexis giveaway and he goes in the book with 75 minutes to play…

    Indeed, AB, luck is needed…

  25. AB says:

    Coq will be off for Elneny later I’m sure. As long as he doesn’t take another card before then…

  26. 17highburyterrace says:

    Alexis helps out on defense and gets a break going…Xhaka to no one… We get it back but the Le Coq over everybody…

    City attacking well and Bell’s has to head out for a corner… But it’s a big effort to clear it and only a foul does so in the end…

    Ozil from Alexis gets in a good position in the box but the right-footer on the turn is weak and easily saved by Caballero…

  27. 17highburyterrace says:

    There’s a bit of nifty play but also some hesitation by Arsenal players who seem maybe not quite up to the pace of the game…

    A couple of decent crosses but nobody quite on them in front of goal…We win our first corner but it’s cleared to Nacho and he blasts well over….

  28. 17highburyterrace says:

    Xhaka’s having a struggle in MF, and with Le Coq already in the book, City will benefit from pressing us in that part of the pitch…

    Wow…Theo wins a very aggro 50-50…no call but the throughball to Welbeck is overhit…

  29. 17highburyterrace says:

    Replay shows Theo stomped on the foot of the opponent…

    Ozil backheel for Alexis draws on an unrewarded dive by the Chilean…

    Better play from Arsenal but Alexis curled shot is wide…

  30. 17highburyterrace says:

    Xhaka, super late trying to track down an Alexis pass, goes in the book… Down a goal but still 11 v 11….

  31. AB says:

    There’s a bit of luck!

  32. 17highburyterrace says:

    Alexis just gets the touch and wins a FK… His curled cross-shot misses both heads and the target…

    Xhaka, doing better, but not on the same page as Theo with a wide ball…

    Ozil with another ineffective FK from a very wide spot…

    City corner after another Xhaka sell out… But Stones only heads it out for a GK…

    Being dominated in MF maybe doesn’t matter…IF we can get the next goal…

    THEO (not offside, somehow) puts it in after Mustafi keeps a City clearance in their area…

    1-1

  33. AB says:

    I don’t believe it. Thats just unprofessional of us

  34. 17highburyterrace says:

    2-1 City…

    They came in waves,but, after two great stops by Kos the ball falls to Silva who puts in Sterling who scores from a wide angle…

    It was nice being level…for five minutes at the start, more like a minute this time….

  35. 17highburyterrace says:

    I don’t know about unprofessional, AB… It was a bad spot for Ozil to give the ball away but Kos was unlucky that his block fell to Silva… But maybe I need to watch it again…

    Alexis finds Theo and his first touch is good… Outside of the right boot with the 2nd flies high (and maybe wide)… Right on the stroke of half-time…

    Both teams look far happier in attack than when trying to defend… i.e., I’d expect more goals in the 2nd half… Of course, we need them to be ours….

  36. Admir says:

    My money is on either Xhaka or Coq getting a second yellow in the second half. Mustafi wants to prove me wrong when I said Xhaka was the worst Wenger’s purchase ever.

    Theo looks inspired and lively, that was a clever attempt just before the break.

    We will lose 4:1, KdB is due a goal in the second half.

  37. retsub1 says:

    Its always good to go in at half time with a positive attitude, but there seemed to a a certain inevitability about the second city goal.

    I. Know he is popular in some quarters, but I just dont get Xhaha. When he gets the ball he seems torn between giving the ball away or getting sent offf.

  38. 17highburyterrace says:

    Sorry, the 2nd City goal was El Kun, not Sterling… No wonder he was able to place it so well…

  39. AB says:

    Limited options for the next half. Giroud presumably. Elneny for either of our booked DMs now. But there’s not much in the way of options for midfield drive from the bench given all the absences. I’m feeling pretty pessimistic I confess

  40. retsub1 says:

    We can still get something out of this, with concentration leadership and a little luck.

  41. 17highburyterrace says:

    Yeah, I think Xhaka looks unable to play at the pace of this match–or at least when quick defenders are pressing him as he receives the ball. When he’s well positioned his left foot is a real weapon… Teams, even the lesser ones, just don’t back off when we have the ball like they might in Continental play… Against very pacey City players it all looks worse…

    He got his yellow when he couldn’t track down an Alexis pass… Silly… Le Coq’s was probably a better play as Alexis’ giveaway would have left us out of position on a(nother) City break…

    Admir, is right, DeBruyne looks due…One shot hit post and another was blocked onto the post… The troubles all start in MF, IMO, however and City just look much more composed when they break than we do trying to break down their (creaky but probably good enough) defense… Theo has looked decent but is probably lucky to not be on a yellow for his foot-stomp and is also one who would benefit from more space (if we had a lead and got to play on the break)…

    All told, the next 45 seem, er, difficult…

  42. 17highburyterrace says:

    Kos off at halftime… Uh oh, where have I seen this before?…

    Yaya on for Sterling so Pep wants to protect his lead, maybe…

    Gabriel’s first touch is a scary one and Ospina has to kick it to safety…

  43. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nice nip and run from Alexis… Fernandinho into the book

  44. retsub1 says:

    Now concentrate.

  45. 17highburyterrace says:

    El kun gets a free header but places it wide…

    Nice cross from Nacho but Otamendi beats DW to it… Ozil finds MUSTAFI from the corner…

    2-2…

  46. AB says:

    against all the odds we are still in this. COYG!!!!

  47. retsub1 says:

    I love passion , but on the very next attack we had about 12 players in their box

  48. 17highburyterrace says:

    End to end now… Gabby puts a cross behind for a City corner… Which we defend but it falls to Fernandinho who draws a strong save from Ospina who is then fouled by Otamendi and will spend a few minutes feigning injury…

    The break is probably needed and this will be our longest period in keeping the scoreline level…

  49. 17highburyterrace says:

    Yaya now in the book?… So, both teams have both DMs on yellows…

  50. 17highburyterrace says:

    Mustafi now, too…

    Game level and still on even numbers…what more can we ask for?…

    No card for Stones, who had played himself well out of position…

    Mustafi, doing likewise, almost finds DW in a good spot but the ball has too much pace for him…

  51. 17highburyterrace says:

    Sorry, I can’t keep up with the cards… Yaya no, Stones yes?… Help please…

  52. 17highburyterrace says:

    City corner, but Bells did well to keep Sane in front of him…

    Almost defended but what a giveaway from Alexis trying to play it out… Luckily the free header is caught by Ospina…

  53. 17highburyterrace says:

    Giroud on for Theo… Maybe a good call as both teams might be trying to play more conservatively… We need the (full) points a lot more than City do, I fear…

    70th minute and things are maybe a bit less end to end… City, in fact, are having much more of the ball…and we’re having trouble playing it out of our half…

  54. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nacho called for offside but it was Ozil who was off while Nacho was level.. Still mostly trying to play on the break while City pass it around…

    Alexis does just that but Giroud gets tangled up and then Le Coq, on the ground, doesn’t get the FK…

    74th min and City cannot break down our parked bus…

  55. TotalArsenal says:

    Loving Xhaka today, best player on the pitch.

  56. TotalArsenal says:

    Ozil v good too, but attackers have been poor, especially Welbeck and Sanchez.

  57. 17highburyterrace says:

    Iwobi for Welbeck is our final sub… So, no protecting any of those on a yellow… Game’s slowing down a bit so maybe we’ll be OK…

    All in our half as we get towards the 80th

  58. 17highburyterrace says:

    Big error from Otamendi but Caballero beats Ozil to it by half a step…

  59. 17highburyterrace says:

    Le Coq should probably be off for the professional foul on Debruyne… Not here in England, I guess…

    Alexis, dribbling out of trouble in our half, gets a break going but Nacho’s cross cannot find a target..

    Good work from Iwobi but Bells can’t hit anyone on the pullback…

    We’re asking a couple of questions but Giroud offsides stops our push…

    85th min…

  60. 17highburyterrace says:

    City short corner routine gets Silva a shot but it’s wide and Ospina probably had it covered anyhow…

    City keeping it in our half and fashioning good chances now…

  61. TotalArsenal says:

    Like a chess game at the moment. Could go either way. Xhaka from distance…

  62. 17highburyterrace says:

    Iwobi from a tough angle shoots over the top corner…best chance in a while… Giroud was available for a chipped cross, however…

    Sorta like the one Navas finds for Kun…deflected out for a corner…

    90th minute

  63. 17highburyterrace says:

    3 mins added time…

    Mustafi,well forward, wins a wide FK…

    Ozil finds only black shirts…

  64. AB says:

    A draw is ok for us. No shame there

  65. 17highburyterrace says:

    Navas wants a handball on Nacho for a pen…Marriner doesn’t give it…

    Final minute and we have a long FK but that’s it…

    Finishes a draw… leaving the table a rather grim bit of reading…

  66. TotalArsenal says:

    Boys did us proud and good to see how everybody tried hard. Some stood out with added quality and if we can add quality next to Ozil and Xhaka in midfield we have the best midfield in the PL next season. I would play Elneny, but Wenger doesn’t seem to agree. With a quality attacker we could have won that game, but draw is fair and quite good result.

  67. 17highburyterrace says:

    A draw–and a full 90 minute effort in front of the home crowd–might represent a line in the sand, IF we can build on it Weds vs West Ham. If so, then there are (nearly) full weeks off and Monday nighters at teams who are fighting the drop…

    TA, I agree about wanting to see Elneny in there (though it’s been so long I can hardly remember how he plays…) and I think that Xhaka will get there in time. To me, however, he’s still struggling with the pace of the English game and the (near suicidal) ways that opposing MFs attack the ball (and the player). That he stayed on after his yellow is good, but he probably could have avoided the early one and made life a lot easier.

    Both teams are not very strong defensively but we held on even with Kos gone at half-time. His mid-game niggles are starting to add up and have to be a worry… Mustafi got the goal but sells himself out (positioning wise) quite a bit (as do Xhaka and Le Coq in the DM spots)… The Spanish full-backs coped decently at the back but never quite made the connections in attack…

    In the end, City had the better chances and hit the posts and forced some saves while our efforts were a good deal more scrambled. A problem, I thought, was that there was very little rotation among the attackers with Alexis, in particular, rarely getting into good scoring positions. He had some good combos with Nacho but otherwise seems reluctant to use his teammates. The same probably could be said about the other attackers (and MFs) the closer we got to their box…

    So, as always with a draw, mixed feelings, but (esp. since we had to come from behind–twice) far better than the alternative…

  68. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Seventeenho. I saw a Xhaka who constantly made himself available and passed quick and often very sharp as soon as he had the ball. He had control and overview of the game and was seldom or never exposed. The idea that he did not handle the pace of the game flabbergastes me. But there you go…we all see different things. 😳⚽💥🌶🎯😜

  69. Admir says:

    @17

    I’d agree with you…if we beat WH on Wednesday which is far from 3 points being already in the bag.

    With ten matches to go, I think the Champions League place is all but lost for us. Given how crappy this season is, I’d take winning FA Cup, ending fifth ahead of Mourinho and beating both Spuds and Manure in the league but it looks like a tall order for this team.

  70. allezkev says:

    Just catching up, sorry I couldn’t send anything during the game 17tino but the internet connection is non existent in the Emirates.

    The burger outlet was opposite entrance D, one of the clubs and they only accept card payments now, which is oh so franchise.

    Thanks for the pic 17tino, I think the demo, as it was, was outside Highbury House, the offices which deal with the day to day stadium stuff, tickets etc, that’s also where Gazides is situated I believe.

    I have heard a couple of rumours about a split among the Board members, regarding the manager.
    Don’t shoot the messenger…

  71. 17highburyterrace says:

    No worries, Kev… And that’s an interesting report about the board… IMO an announcement one way or the other would be very helpful… Maybe if we can beat the Hammers on Weds Night…

  72. allezkev says:

    I really don’t know to think about Xhaka, because I read folks on here applauding him and saying how well he plays, but I don’t see it at the games. I see opponents running past him and him being slow on the turn, I also recall him giving away some really sloppy possession, but that doesn’t make me right, it just means I’m maybe not watching closely enough.

    Monreal had his best game in ages, and I agree 17tino, he wasn’t offside, the linesman definitely got that wrong, sun in his eyes or not.

    Alexis was perpetual motion, absolutely Duracell for 90 minutes, which considering his trip back from South America, was amazing.

    I actually thought that Gabriel did well when he came on, he was just the physical presence we needed as Man City wound it up looking for the winner.

    Ballerin has his best game in ages, I just wish he’d get his hair cut…

    Overall it was a big improvement with the players walking the walk after all their talk.
    I expected us to fold, especially after the 2nd City goal, and although the post saved us, I think we deserved a share of the spoils.

    The atmosphere in the ground was pretty good considering we were chasing for most of the game.
    Man City are a fantastic team, going forward, in defence they reminded me of us…

    Onto the game with West Ham, who’ll have that thrashing we gave them earlier in the season on their minds and Andy Carroll… 😳

  73. allezkev says:

    17tino, I don’t really know how accurate the rumour of Board differences are, but the silence from Gazides does make me wonder… 😉

  74. allezkev says:

    17tino, when Arsenal reach big games at Wembley, there obviously isn’t enough tickets to satisfy demand, due to there being more season ticket holders than available tickets, so you register an interest in purchasing a ticket and it goes into a ballot.

    If you are lucky, you get a ticket. But there’s no guarantee.
    Even for season ticket holders.
    There is always a 2nd ballot for those unsuccessful in the 1st as more tickets, for differing reasons, become available. But this year it’s been different.

    My son, who with his mates, registered, told me that everyone who applied, got a ticket, no ballot.
    So that tells me that many season tickets holders didn’t apply and away fans didn’t bother either for whatever reason, but I suspect that apathy may come out top as a possible reason.

    There will be tickets, left over, going on general sale in a week or so.

    Now if playing a big Wembley game, an FA Cup semi final, against a top Man City team, cannot galvanise more enthusiasm than what seems is the case, then the club really does have a problem mate…

  75. retsub1 says:

    kev having seen your mini match report, I pretty much agree with your comments especially the Bellerin hairstyle.

    Couple of thoughts

    1 I though Mustafi did pretty well. He won a pretty brave header to make the first goal, although I don’t see many people congratulating on an assist ( (will come back to that). I just watched the replay of his goal and he was pretty much the only player moving at speed when the cross came in.

    I thought Ozil was fairly ordinary today, but he did look very tired and probably should have been subbed. I am guessing he is not match fit. Then I see all sorts of reports about his,assist,
    Ummmm he took a corner. Admittedly free kicks and corners aren’t a strong point of ours. The majority not getting past the first defender. Hence my praise of the Mustafi assist.

    I agree with you about Xhaka, he hit a couple of decent passes in the first half but three or four pretty poor ones. He was a little better in the second half , but could well have got a 2nd yellow.

    Very much agree on Monreal he has been distinctly average recently, but much improved today.

    I also join the Elneny support club, Le Coq has lost whatever magic he had before. I know he is not their to score goak but he has been venturing further forward recently. He must be approaching John Jensens record of most consecutive games without scoring

  76. Goonereris says:

    It was exactly the kind of game I expected. Cagey, end to end at times, physical and we a bit on the back foot. Make no mistake about it. With the past few weeks the lads have had, and with everyone low on confidence, I thought we have done well to make it the contest it was, and it’s all thanks to the international break.
    If you recall how well City played at Anfield, you will get a sense of the character shown by the team and we could have won this on another day. It was an expectedly nervy start but when we got going, we gave them a few things to worry about, even if hurried (down to confidence) in most situations.
    If we can build on this draw and start a winning run, knowing we have 2 games in hand on some of our rivals, top 3 is a possibility.

  77. Goonereris says:

    To the game, I quite saw some things from TA’s viewpoint. Xhaka did very well in my view. He made a few errors and will run at his own pace when we are under siege, but you have to admire a man who doesn’t appear to be fazed by it all. Man of the match has to be between Sanchez, Mustafi and Xhaka. On the first goal, all Bellerin had to do was move up wi his CBs and Sane will be offside. But he stayed back, fearing his pace on a break, and so gave him a head start in the race to goal, especially as he was on Sane’s wrong side. Why not clip him and take the yellow card, I was thinking?
    I would also like to see Elneny on but, to be fair, he’s not going to do better than Coq, against top quality pros like we have in city. Xhaka is the one keeping him on the bench, in any case. He should get his own time; otherwise, he may be off to seek playing time elsewhere.
    I was happy that Gabriel has come on to do defending in its basic form; just hoof it clear. He also kept Aguero quieter than he had been in the 1st half. A win is what I preferred but I am not going to scoff at this point.

  78. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Kev, I bet you would score Xhaka a five and Alexis an eight….and I would do the absolute opposite. Alexis had busy periods but was poor on the ball almost constantly, with bad passes all over the pitch that on another day will cost us dearly. I cannot remember a single attacking cross or pass of quality, but Welbeck was also a pretty poor target man/CF to be fair… on the other hand, Xhaka was constantly adding structure to our attacking play, and most of our better attacking moves had him at the centre. Watch how he always, just like Mesut, looks for the best space to position himself in and how he thinks ahead…like Mesut does. That for me is the sign of a great midfield general. But I think he would work better with Elneny as he is also very good at finding, and moving into, space.

  79. Goonereris says:

    That’s the thing, TA. Elneny is too much like Xhaka and both together against a potent side as City will leave the defence exposed, at times. Of course, if we are against a side that will sit deep, he is a useful man to have in the side.

  80. allezkev says:

    Hi Retsub.

    I don’t wanna dig out Xhaka, especially as he is well liked among many contributors, not least our very own Van Der Total, and I really want him to be a success, why wouldn’t I..?
    But he’s been, in my view, not being guided by our manager. Both he and Coquelin were charging forward when they should have been holding their positions, consequently our back-four was left exposed, as was the case with City’s first goal.
    Coquelin, to me, was more effective when he kept it simple, kept back, stayed disciplined, won the ball and passed to a more technical player.

    I agree regarding Mustafi, I think he did well, he was hung out to dry for the first goal, when he had to come out of position to clear a long ball that a defensive midfielder, if he’d been in position, should have dealt with. I like Mustafi and he stood up to the pressure when Koscielny went off and we were all thinking ‘Here we go, Bayern again’…

    Agree again on Elneny, he’s a very tidy player who we’ve missed

  81. allezkev says:

    Eris, interesting that you thought it was cagey mate, I thought it was wide open.
    City probably approached the Liverpool game differently, but Guardiola, whose faced Wenger many times, knows how he sets his teams up and has, I believe, only lost once to Arsene.
    I think that Guardiola went for it because he knew we would, and thought his team would score more times than Arsenal.

  82. allezkev says:

    Total, I would give Xhaka 6 and Alexis 9… 🙂

    Technique is fantastic, but technique without effort is a waste.
    I like Alexis because he never gives in, I saw him lose possession, a sloppy pass, but he didn’t shrug his shoulders he went straight back at his opponent and won the ball back.
    Later in the game when City had us under pressure he was back challenging and winning tackles in our box, clearing dangerous situations, I could point the finger at some that didn’t come close to his commitment mate.

    That’s all by the by, because I think he’ll be gone this summer TA…

  83. njk84sg says:

    One of the better performance by the lads in a while.

    Our start wasn’t good, but we battled well and we did well to dig in and got the equaliser. Pity we didn’t score more, but the attitude is good and you can literally see the difference with Welbeck up top. Everything was so fast there was no time even to blink.

    About Alexis, Kev, I think he will stay. I had a hunch that Wenger, Alexis and Ozil will stay, and that helped the team dynamics today.

    JK

  84. Pony Eye says:

    We have a great team but with too many “buts”.

    Ozil very creative BUT can’t defend.
    Walcott electrifying BUT can vanish.
    Alexis enterprising BUT too many turnovers.
    Xhaka composed distributor of the ball BUT too slow on the turn.
    Coq great tackler BUT can’t give one creative pass.
    Bel good surging forward BUT no end product.
    Welbeck a tidy manipulator of the ball BUT can’t change gear in front of goal.
    Monreal good BUT short on pace.
    Ospina a shot stopper if there was one BUT must choose his moment to goof.
    And so on and so forth………..

    Are there no players without blemish?

  85. Goonereris says:

    PE, hahaha! There are no (even) humans “without blemish”. I guess each player will have some weakness. Ours’ is just being magnified by the fact we have been on a poor run for a while now.

  86. Goonereris says:

    Kev, you will agree it started cagey until the early goal forced us out. Our slow start was as a result of nerves while the City side were wary of a backlash/response from our players, after the string of dropped points. If you want to see ‘open’, wait till the semi-final of the FA cup.

    And, did you see how many times Alexis lost the ball, relying on teammates to dig him out of hole, a couple of times. Just glad we didn’t lose. Hope we can win on Wednesday.

  87. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Kev. Alexis has been a good player for us, but I reckon we will perform better as a team if we replace him carefully this summer. I just saw soooo many mistakes and so little quality in his play, but if running around like a blue-arsed fly is what you are after, by all means give him that nine!! 🙂

    Giving their all is a good characteristic to look out for… but there is a reason why England never gets anywhere in the big national tournaments, and that is this focus on running like a maniac and giving their all. Xhaka also worked really, really hard but in a planned and intelligent way, and that is the future for Arsenal if we want to win silverware again imo.

  88. Pony Eye says:

    You are right Goonereris. I just took a look at the mirror and it was all blemish. If Santi was on parade, you can bet, I wouldn’t have let him go scot-free. Our boys were in a bad psychological place. They were even uncertain whether or not to celebrate their 1st equalizer. Luckily our fans were at their best and the dark clouds surely wouldn’t be overhanging the next match. With this draw l believe the corner has been turned.

  89. allezkev says:

    Eris, Total, I take on board your views, and I’ll leave it at that… 🙂

  90. allezkev says:

    This must be my lucky day!
    Got a ticket for tomorrow…
    So, I shall give the overpriced cheeseburger a miss, but I shall watch Master Xhaka very closely and report my findings back to Meneer Total… 😉

    Whether I feel as lucky at full-time after 90 minutes of Andy Carroll, remains to be seen…

  91. retsub1 says:

    Enjoy the game Kev. Apparently Ospina is out Martinez in. Just watching Wenger pre match and he was asked about Andy Carroll. His answer was perfect… keep the ball down the other end.

    Everton 1 nil up on United really soft goal. I think we may be 7th now.

  92. 17highburyterrace says:

    New Post…

    Though it looks like I have to change my keeper selection… Cheers Retsub. Enjoy the match, Kev…

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