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From the stands: the Untold Preview. City versus our mighty Arsenal

By Phil Gregory

Arsenal are off to City tomorrow, and by a good stroke of luck, I am too. Through a contact, a friend has managed to secure a couple of tickets for what promises to be absolute cracker of a game. I’ll be in the City end however, so should I never post on Untold again, you can have a fair guess as to why I vanished!

This game is one that carries a few undertones, as was evident from the slightly fraught ending to our Carling Cup exit recently. Frimpong wanting to batter Nasri would be my personal highlight, and I think it’s great that the kids coming through the academy have that raw passion for the club. In regards to Nasri, we got a great deal all things considered, and I feel Gervinho is an upgrade to him on that left flank. Indeed in an article on Arsenal.com Wenger implied that had Nasri stayed, Gervinho would have taken his left sided berth with the Frenchman playing in the middle of the park, filling a Fabregas sized hole. I was never too convinced by Nasri in the middle, and I think his low assist stats implied that he was better further forward than playing others in. Ramsey is certainly growing into the role nicely, so I think we’re ok without him, all things considered.

Joleon Lescott chatted a bit about Van Persie possibly signing for City in the build up to the game. As we’re all aware, Van Persie is down to the last eighteen months of his deal. He’s in a similar situation to the likes of Walcott and Song and until recently, Vermaelen. The fact that the latter has extended his deal suggests the club is keen to get everyone signed up (as you’d expect). While the fact that the other three haven’t signed on yet isn’t a worry, the closer they get to next summer the more worrying it will be. Players like Van Persie and Walcott, who have both really come on in recent times, will likely just want to play, as the better they perform on the pitch the stronger their position at any bargaining table. That’s perfectly understandable, but any Arsenal fan with their wits about them would be concerned at the prospect of another season of transition in the event of Robin’s departure this summer. Whether that’s likely or not is debatable: he loves the club and wants to succeed here. However at his age he’s looking at his last big four year deal and will likely be wanting silverware too. If Arsenal finish the season promisingly, a pay rise to reflect his world class status might be enough. That unfortunately is only one of a few plausible possibilities, so until he signs – fingers crossed!

Those who won’t around for our game on Sunday are our the usual suspects: Wilshere had a good result on a scan but will be back no sooner than February, while Gibbs is one week away from a return. Jenkinson’s comeback has been delayed somewhat, which means we’re one injury away from a crisis at centreback heading into the busy Christmas period. That’s certainly concerning, but with Gibbs a week away he can come back in at left back, freeing Vermaelen up and giving us a bit of wiggle room at centreback.

So the squad is the same as that which played versus Everton. As a result we’ll most likely line up somewhat akin to:

Szcznesy

Djourou Mertesacker Koscielny Vermaelen

Song Arteta

Ramsey

Walcott Van Persie Gervinho.

That team is great, and you can’t say it’s not solid at the back! Away at City, I think our best approach is a possession based, counter attacking style, as would be favoured by my all-conquering Sunday football side (if I could convince them to cease defending on the halfway line…!). We’ve got the players to keep the ball in the face of their pressing, and it will allow us to work the ball around them and open them up. In this sort of game, a draw is a good result so an approach focused on being hard to beat, and aiming to grab a goal on the break is smart.

With Clichy suspended and Kolarov injured, City could either play Zabaleta at left back (he’s normally a right back) or move someone like Lescott there. Whether it’s a fairly slow centreback or a fullback playing out of position, it’s certainly something Theo Walcott will look forward to taking on. For all the talk of City’s defence, I think that is going to be the vulnerability that we seek to take advantage of. Much of their defensive record is thanks to a team ethic a la Barcelona but playing at home they’ll seek to attack us, and that’ll leave space our attackers can exploit with incisive counter attacking.

Fingers crossed anyway! City away is clearly a tough game, but if they can lose to Chelsea, we can beat them. After all, we’re the side who played Barcelona at their own game and won last year, and they’re supposed to be one of the best teams of all time. On our day, Arsenal can beat anyone. Defensive injuries area a concern, but City have a couple of problems of their own and our stand-ins have been performing admirably recently. 2-2 draw for my money. Not sure I’d be alive to see the fulltime whistle if Arsenal take the lead, stranded in the City end as I will be!

Enjoy the game wherever you are!

 

48 comments to From the stands: the Untold Preview. City versus our mighty Arsenal

  • Byo

    To be honest, I was never really impressed with Nasri. He gave Wenger and Arsenal 3 good months, and became a primadonna. I really did not think the team would miss him, and was proved right. Clichy, I was happy to be rid of, he was always a disaster in-waiting. Fabregas is a different proposition though.

    Sometimes, I wonder what would have happened in the past years if Cesc had Arteta/Metersacker/Santos(experienced heads) to work with. I put my money on a win tomorrow, 2-1.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Phil – interesting preview. When I am in the wrong end watching Arsenal, I keep my hands firmly in my pockets (to prevent myself from clapping) and inbetween grinding my teeth, just shout ‘ahh what’, if anything loudly because it is quite non descriptive.

    I haven’t read the article, but from what you say, I am a bit amazed that Lescott is giving interviews about RVP joining Man C. It’s as if Cesc and his buddies have set a new president. All I care about are the players this season, giving their all. If RVP won’t sign on at the end of the season and Man C offer us anything in the region of £30-40m we should sell. The only thing in the contract situation that would make me annoyed, is if we were splitting hairs over a comparatively small amont of money, say for example £1/2m.

    Tomorrow we go with a strong team, but I do not underestimate Man C at all, so I agree that anything but a loss will be good. It is games like this I rue the loss of Sagna and Santos the most because I would of been confident of us taking all three points with them in the team. Our midfield will be crucial and Song’s nemesis ref Phil Dowd, will not need a reason to card him, so he has to be careful. That said, if Arteta, Song and Ramsey stay calm and focussed, they have the ability to not only match Man C, but unlock a defensively packed midfield too.

    If Man C are smart, they will be looking to exploit our righside weaknesses, so Theo will need to be defensively alert and cautious even. This would be a good game for Gervinho to step up and either score or assist RVP.

    Even though we go there as the underdogs, we have no reason to fear them. I hope the travelling Gooner nation sing their hearts out and get behind the team no matter what happens tomorrow.

  • Byo

    @gooner gal- why would we go to ManC as underdogs? Yes, we will miss Sagna’s experience in the RB position but that is part of the season-injuries. Damn that Assou-Ekoto who was responsible for that(he really went out to cause harm with the push to the side-boards after the ball was out of play, and Sagna was unprotected)!

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Byo,

    They sit at the top of the league – we are 5th. They are supposed to have better players in every position – ours are apparently not world class. Phil Dowd is the ref and they play at home. Lastly, the media has already decided that we will be beaten tomorrow.

    Sagna and Santos would of allowed us to be more adventurous and break them down easier, as both can defend and counter attack quickly and with ease. But that’s life and we still have an able team.

  • DaVinci

    I have just been on phone with NASA about the Hubble Telescope finding a better use. Those fellows promised to have the giant telescope focused on you at the City end – rather than have it circling about in space taking shots of rocks, and more rocks (no water)! Anyway, should a City fan try a move, be sure a rescue team shall be deployed from the Gunners side.

    That said (and your safety assured – kinda), I fancy City to play their typical high backline. Therefore Gervinho and Theo can have a field day if Song can find his usual splitting passes that need a sprinter to get to the end of it. It is also interesting the City are not so much of a threat in the air. Maybe Mancini should get a Delap next time. But corners and set pieces would not be so much of a worry than direct play from the flanks – or from the middle.

    My guess is Arteta may form the link between the midfield and defense, then allowing Ramsey and Song some room to join in the attack. Much of the threat on the Arsenal goal may come from the right, esp if City deploy a pacy winger to give Djourou a hard time. A bit depressing but not a crisis is the lack of support on the attack by the defenders. This is when I miss the likes of Santos, Sagna, Jenkinson, and Gibbs.

  • JohnW

    Biggest game of the season so far. if The Arsenal win, we’re officially back in the hunt for the PL, and also our troubles will have been assigned right behind us.Yes, City will trouble our right side, some times i think we’re better off if Djourou plays in the centre, and the Frenchman plays right back.

  • Ah Phil, while you are being treated in hospital I shall be gathering up my things and moving over to the regular Village Party, at which I play music from the olden days on a roughly in tune piano, and the villagers join in the singing. “Smoke gets in your eyes,” “White Christmas”, “Whiskey in the Jar” – that sort of stuff.

    (Sorry non UK readers, it is a British thing at which half the participants pretend for no good reason to be Irish).

    It is great fun, lots of food and wine, and we all laugh when someone lets out a howl after the line, “I am rover…”

    You get to see the game live. I get the mince pies.

    Have a great time.

  • Laundryender

    BUZZING!!!! Phil I envy you, enjoy. What i do know is we scared the life out of them at the Ems with a second string team, Kos was outstanding that night. they have lots of class in front of goal as Aguero showed, but we create more chances, with RVP, Theo and Gervihno up front and a solid midfield i do really fancy us today. City know they will have to be at there best, come on you Gooners!!!!!

  • Byo

    Ah gooner gal, all the reasons you listed have nothing to do with 90 minutes on the pitch(except maybe playing at home). Otherwise the game need not be played, that’s why there have been lots of unexpected results this seasons(1/3 through) already.
    We don’t have world-class players? Our team is loaded with internationals, and national skippers. Fcuk the press. However we still have to play the match today.

  • bob

    All,
    A pre-match note on media malware at The Guardian, behold Alan Gardner’s “preamble” (as they humbly label it) before the very first minute, to set the tone for his stewardship over the report to come:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/dec/18/manchester-city-arsenal-premier-league
    For us, it is lose-lose. If we lose, it will continue the Manchester effect (administered by ManUre on our last visit); if we win, it will mean that RvP will be even that much more attractive to the Oilygarchs who steal our most betrothed and surely, they will not know what it is to be denied. This man, Alan Gardner, continues the rich vein of sadism in painting us red white and blue (whoops, that’s not only the French colors!) that has come to mark the testosterone-laden cubicles at Guardian Football. (That said, I eagerly await their even-handed Amy Lawrence’s post match coverage by comparison.) May Alan Gardner (taking the high road here) go right to seed! Alons mates! Go Gunners!

  • bob

    This passes for in-match coverage? More toxicity from Alan Gardner to sum up the first half:

    “Half-time and, whisper it, Arsenal don’t look like conceding eight yet. It’s been open fare, with City having the best of it, but Arsenal still look dangerous on the break. They’ve needed Sczcesny to be at his best to keep City out, though. If Arsenal’s little piggies were blown away by a hurricane at Old Trafford, their jimmy-rigged structure is just about holding together here.

    “Alan, behind the brouhaha of Arsenal’s recovery is the terrifying fact that without Van Persie there would be few goals and probably a 9th place,” chin-strokes Damian Durrant. “Arsenal is a twisted ankle from disaster and RVP has never lasted a whole season.” There’s a first time for everything, Damian. Why, I’d put a whole 7p on it possibly happening one day.”

    He really needs that rent check, Alan Gardner.

  • T Ross

    and it’s happening again. Bad offside decisions, and now a bad handball decision.

  • dan

    good game well played. Arshavin showing us why he needs to go.

  • bob

    Alan “I’m a Weed as your” Gardner gives us begrudging acknowledgment with an obligatory (for Guardian stenographers) kick out the door: “Peep! Peep! Peep! Arsenal’s revival won’t bring them a point, as City cling on to their 100% record at the Etihad. They’re back on top of the table after a cracking, close-fought match!”
    Wish he and Arshavin could have a very long beer together.

  • bob

    Shard,
    Days later, I’m fully on board with you now about the need for a strong quality striker in the x-fer window; beyond that, IF Wilshere is not really going to be back (another medical mystery), I think we need a creative, offense-minded midfielder too.

  • bjtgooner

    Super performance from the team, unlucky to lose, but nothing to be ashamed of. With a little luck or a decent and fair ref we could have drawn. Dowd really let the oilers away with too many fouls, as expected.

    In my view Kompany and Yaya should not have been on the pitch following the Chelski match, Kompany should have had at least two yellows and Yaya kicked Mata when the latter was on the ground and then slapped him on the head. What did the ref or FA do? Predictable!

    Na$ri showed that he could never have replaced Cesc.

  • dan

    Nasri wont be @ shitty for long!!!

  • bob

    Dan,
    And $hitty named $ami their MOTM…
    Are we living in an alternate univer$e?

  • dan

    Bob

    Shitty have no class.

  • harry

    The sad reality of today’s game is no matter how well the team have played to recover from our early season implosion we clearly don’t have the quality or depth in the squad to compete with the likes of city and utd. You have to ask yourself if you are Van Persie why on earth would you sign a new contract with a club Thant frankly ca no longer compete for the title never mind struggle to qualify for the champions league. Sad but true …………..

  • barry

    I’m about to get on the journey back.
    I can’t be arsed to go into too much but a few things need to be said:

    1. Gervinho. What an absolute fucking disgrace he is. The amount of times he had clear runners and never even saw them was untrue. A joke.

    2. Mertesacker is all over the place. Horrendous.

    3. Arsenal have now been comfortably beaten by Liverpool, Citeh, Spuds and Manure. Those who whack off after a run against the Wigans and Evertons of this world would do well to realise.

    4. Arsenal for the first time under AW, have fuck all creativity. None. What distinguishes the great clubs from the average ones is that. It’s a sad day when you look at Van der Vaart, who is often a sub at Spuds, and wish he played for us. Arsenal look like a glorified Villa.

    5. Alex Thong. I’ll say it again: LIABILITY. Braindead retard.

    6. The defending. It will never improve under Wenger. A new manager is the answer.

    7. Djourou. LOL.

    8. I feel sorry for RVP. He must be going through the same nightmare Cesc went through. Top class yet surrounded by twats. He will go.

    9. Why are some ppl “proud? Since when are Arsenal fans so positive about defeats? We lost because of a braindead “defensive midfielder” who does not understand how to show a man outside, and two defenders who could not get a basic line right. Add to that a useless sprinter in Walcott, total attacking lack of support for RVP and it’s a bloody shambles. Nothing to be proud of.

    10. Arsenal will not finish in the CL places. Arsene Wenger sold our best players in scandalous fashion. His mismanagement over summer has fucked us for the season. He was a joke over summer. He managed to spend £50 mil plus on players and somehow we look a far worse team. He banked more profits. We are a GK or RVP injury away from being a midtable farce.
    Unacceptable.

    11. Spuds wage bill is just £69 mil.
    Arsenal over £115 mil. Yet Redknapp has that team challenging for the league. We are floundering. Wenger and Arsenal make £3 mil a he game in a 60,000 seater. Constant CL cash. Yet Redknapp has managed to build a serious team with far less resources at his disposal. Whilst keeping his best players. Wenger is the Cancer at Arsenal and needs to go in summer.
    Fuck “waiting to see if he learns”. Seven years is plenty. Diaby, Denilson et al picking up fat wages for nothing and the fans pay for this dross?

    Please.

  • walter

    For those waiting for a game review : as due to circumstances I couldn’t see the game (could only see half an hour and the last 10 minutes) so I cannot write anything sensible for the moment.
    One of those rare occasions I couldn’t see the game and we lose… *********(= some swearing and cursing)

  • I’ll step into the breach Walter, as I was in the stands. Right next to the media seats too, can’t complain!!

  • p.s. I thought Dowd wasn’t too bad – Song’s early yellow was a warning light for me, but it’s tough to judge from the stands. Dowd certainly gave us decisions, and declined to show cards when he could have if he was in Newcastle mode.

    I await the review. Perhaps he knows his game is up?

  • bjtgooner

    @barry

    Unless you have £500m that you will donate to the club, just journey back to either the Spuds den or Troll yard.

  • Agreed with you Bjt. His comment is full of nonsense but I didn’t moderate it purely because of that, people have the right to an opinion.

  • LRV

    @Barry:
    Even the worst critics have said that this is probably the guttiest performance from the Cunners. So what the hell are you ranting about? Get the hell home and stop pretending to be an Arsenal supporter. You are not being forced (with a gun) to support Arsenal. Go worship your money lords. I wonder what you would have said had Arsenal lost by more than ONE; glory hunter that you are.

  • walter

    O come on give Barry a break. he has been waiting for months to be able to write this up. This is his “moment de gloire”. I bet he even opened a bottle of champaign to celebrate our loss and the fact that finally he was able to write this.
    I think he is a resident of L* Gr***
    He will go back to his natural habitat soon

  • walter

    champagne…

  • Mahdain

    @phil your namesake was utter disgrace…denied us a clear penalty and kept giving city decisions…and i still cant understand why silva goal stood while ours didnt

  • Sammy

    Byo, your thoughts reflect mine.

    I often think what we could’ve achieved if Arsene had bought players like Mertesacker and Arteta earlier while we still had Fabregas. We definitely would’ve won something and would’ve made a more convincing argument for Fabregas to stay.

    Instead, Wenger kept dilly-dallying for years and Arsenal suffered. Imagine how Fabregas would’ve felt when he tried his heart and soul to win something for Arsenal, and then would see the sight of Diaby and Denilson losing the ball in the half-line and then ambling back as if jogging in the park.

    Don’t get my wrong, I am not here to say I told you so. On the contrary, I write with a pain in my heart… and bitterly disappointed, that Wenger refused to do anything when he had chance to win something. Over the past 3 years, Arsenal came very close to winning things and needed just a bit of reinforcement in some areas. However, Wenger left it too late to get Arteta/Mertesacker. Now we can’t even get a sniff of the title with Man City and Chelsea spending heavily and the revival of Spurs. It’s hard to swallow that such a brilliant manager has let down the teams and the fans because of his stubbornness.

  • Mahdain

    barry stop being a tool and go back where you came from….your comments abt song and spuds just show how low your IQ level is

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Walter, I look forward to reading your ref report.

    @ Barry, what a lot of time and effort to write a load of rubbish, haha!

    @ bjtgooner, I agree with your comments.

  • Mahdain

    its amazing wat a defeat against the world most expensive team can do to some “fans”..they have easily forgotten we were undefeated in 8 games prior today but im not suprised cos as walter said they have been waiting for a while so let them have their celebrations for the small victory…the AAAs really do make me sad

  • Pat

    I find Barry’s comments strange. Even Graham Souness the Sky pundit said this was a great match, the best he’d seen for a long time, and Arsenal played very well. We were beaten by one goal by the league leaders. And that’s despite all our injuries in defence.

  • Gooner Gal

    Someone has to find out what Dowd’s problem with Song is. The early yellow cards inhibited Song’s game. Dowd runs around for 90mins looking for a reason to send Song off, I can’t work out what his problem is.

  • Mahdain

    saw it again on MOTD…we were clearly robbed…rvp goal should have stand as kompany was playing him onside and how did dowd miss that handball INFRONTof him?

  • marcus

    Nobody knows…but we can guess….

    I suspect “it’s all about the money money money”

    —–

    Saw the MOTD high and lowlights. Hmmmm….

    AS LD says: Clear penalty. Dowd started squirming when Ramsey explained to him the definition of handball, with some helpful anatomical reminders.

    Shame that every time Arsenal knock at the door, the mystery men on the other side turn the lock.

  • walter

    Good to see Phil survived 😉

  • marcus

    Love the Arsene interview…he almost starts saying what he wants to say, (about halfway in)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quoGKjxRVSc

    I can’t..

    A bit uh…

    Raises Questions…

    This could be cathartic…let’s finish Arsene’s sentences

    I can’t er……discuss the fucking ref?
    A bit er,…… fishy?
    Raises questions…like why is Phil Dowd more incompetent than a bar drunk who has been co-opted into reffing the match?

  • Yeah just about. I scowled when they scored but nobody noticed!

    RE: the handball – it was quite clearly a handball, but was it intentional? I’m not so sure myself, even from MotD. I look forward to the ref review on that point.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Mahdain, it looked like the linesmen were only worried about if Arsenal players were offside for most of the game. Man C got the benefit of the doubt. I agree we were robbed, it’s strange that the match couldn’t understand why Arsene was livid.

    @ Walter, Dowd’s accuracy stats as predicted, will now surely nose dive. He predictably got big decisions wrong and isn’t professional enough to referee Arsenal matches.

  • bjtgooner

    @I agree, Dowd seems to have a problem with Song and seems to want to book him on any excuse. I didn’t think the yellow given to Song today was valid – but will await the ref report. I expected Dowd to book Song early in the second half, he rather took me by surprise by booking him so early.

    We need to remember we are not a one man team. We have class players in many positions and Song has become one of these. Was Dowd deliberately setting out today to restrict his game and make life easier for the oiler’s attacks?

    This was a tough match and the team gave everything in their effort to draw/win. After such a massive effort the team needs to know that we really appreciate the performance and that they have our full support. Idiots like barry are deliberately undermining the team, manager and club – how the hell can they call themselves fans?

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Walter, I’ve been trying to see if the Richards one not given was similar to the one given against Lescott last week, as I can’t remember or find it easily online. It was a big call not to give it.

    @ bjtgooner, I think that despite our makeshift defense, the team did well and should of got at least a point.

  • bjtgooner

    @gooner gal

    Agreed.

  • Gord

    Some games have high scores, football isn’t one of them. There are suggestions at arXiv about changing the scoring structure to make predicting scores easier.

    From what I’ve studied, the scores 0-0, 1-0, 0-1 and 1-1 are statistically the same.

    Which doesn’t make losing 1-0 easier.

    Have their been structural improvements since the 8-2 loss, when Arsenal were forced to fielding a team which was probably less competitive than required; yes.

    To the manager, the 1-0 loss should be the same as a 0-1 win; in terms of the performance of the team as a whole. Yes, it would have been nice if Arsenal had the only goal.

    In terms of ability, the scoreline today says that Arsenal and ManCity are the same. Arsenal can beat ManCity. It didn’t happen today, which is annoying. Teams that park the bus and lose 0-1 have little hope of ever beating the other side. Arsenal didn’t park the bus, and doesn’t park the bus in general.

    Both teams today went out to win the game, and one came out lucky.

    Djourou apparently has a groin injury, and the initial prognosis is 3 weeks. Which is not what we needed to hear. How did Miquel do in replacing Djourou?

    Ideally, I would have liked to see 1-0 to the Arsenal today. I think either a 0-0 or 1-1 tie would have been fair results from what I have read. Losing 0-1 is annoying.

    Does Arsenal have potential? No doubt! I think all the teams in Champions League have taken notice. Winning the English Premier League has become more difficult. We need more ties (nominally 0-0 of teams parking the bus), or lucky wins by teams playing ManCity or ManU to think too highly of finishing at the top. There is half a season to play, things happen. In terms of Champions League, no competitor should think that Arsenal lying 5th means they are significantly less than 1st in terms of ability.

    I’m hoping for the best for Arsenal. Ideally, these negative outcomes that are statistically the same (including the injury list) have to even out.

  • Byo

    Who is this Barry guy? Like someone said earlier, you can jog on to Spuds or ManC, instead of pretending to be an Arsenal fan. There is no perspective or objectivity in your opinion. I really don’t know which game you saw today, calling people names! The season is only one-third of the way through, and you already know Arsenal will not finish in CL place? Wow!

    What I saw was a gutsy performance today, and wish the result was different. I am still convinced after watching it again, that we deserved a draw at the least. If I’m hurting this much, I wonder how much Wenger and the boys feel.

  • Mandy Dodd

    That was a great performance against a team who have completely humiliated the likes of Spurs and Utd on their own grounds.
    Our problem, we are getting Webb, Dean, Dowd week in week out. Your cannot take on a team like that, plus the ref.
    The classic blueprint – book Song early, let the opposition away with fouls, deny a clear pen, not to even mention RVPs valid goal – ok that was the linesman.
    Did you see the likes of Englishman Gareth Barry feigning injury trying to get Song and Arteta sent off?
    And Nasri MOTM – funny!
    I do not even want to get into speculation about some of our players and their contracts, but it is time to stop selling players to this club, no matter how much we get. They are a good team, with some great fans over the years, but as a club are now seemingly trying to systematically weaken our team, see Richards pre game comments about RVPfor starters. If our players leave, time to start sending them somewhere else. I also see Vieira as a true Arsenal legend, just hope, maybe against hope, he is not involved in tapping our players