Arsenal v Manchester City: the progress, the possibility, the team



By Bulldog Drummond

In the league table after the match on 28 August 2021, there were five clubs (all obviously above Arsenal since Arsenal were bottom of the league at that point after three games), that are now in the Championship –  (Leicester, Southampton, Watford, Leeds, Wolverhampton, Norwich).     

The response of the media and some fans at that point was that Arteta should go.  After all clubs don’t recover from bad starts, do they?  (Arsenal finished fifth).

Arsenal had played three, lost three, scored nil, and conceded nine, and the turnaround since that point has been, by any measure, quite extraordinary.  But always there is the demand for more, and thus there is a comment in the Guardian that says, “if Arsenal cannot trouble the champions there is a very real possibility that, despite successive defeats for Guardiola’s side, this season becomes another procession.”

So, a grave doubt that Arsenal can win today, but a grudging acknowledgment that really, if Arsenal can’t reign in Manchester City, no one can.   Including Tottenham Hotspur, who are currently top of the league.  It’s quite a turnaround in opinions since 28 August 2021.

At the same time, a storm of negative facts is poured out by journalists such as “Arsenal have gone 16 top-flight games against Manchester City without keeping a clean sheet” (that from the BBC) and also from the same source, “City are the only side that Mikel Arteta has failed to beat during his managerial career in the Premier League – he has lost all seven meetings against his former club.”

And of course, with all such negative auguries, one can either go forward and decide the run must come to an end some time, or look back and say, well it was like that in the past so it will be again now.

But the BBC is more helpful in noting that Arsenal “have won 19 of their last 26 Premier League home games, drawing five and losing to Manchester City and Brighton.”  So maybe we can take some positive feelings from the notion that we are playing at home.

However, the BBC then go and spoil it all by talking about having kept just “four clean sheets in their past 28 home league fixtures, with 63% of the goals they have conceded since the start of last season coming at Emirates Stadium.”    Yet as we learned from last season’s final table Arsenal were better at home than away – and indeed come to that better at home than Manchester City away



Team P W D L F A GD Pts
3 Arsenal home 19 14 3 2 53 25 28 45
2 Manchester City away 19 11 4 4 34 16 18 37


So yes let us not be too down-hearted.  Last season Arsenal scored 19 more goals at home than Manchester City away – although Arsenal also conceded nine more goals at home than Manchester City did away.

But still, the media can counter, with loads of articles about Arsenal getting poorer results without Saka in the team, and noting that he has five goals and two assists in the last eight games.

Personally, I think the loss of Martinelli on the other side is just as important, and getting him back will be an enormous boost, whenever he can play a full match.

And of course, everywhere there is the Manchester City news such as the fact that “Haaland has scored in his previous four Premier League outings in London, a run which started with a goal in City’s 3-1 win at Arsenal in February”.

That was from Football.London, part of the group that runs the Mirror and which came out with that lunatic story “Former Arsenal star hunted by police after failing to appear in court for third time.”    I won’t go through it all again, but it really does reveal what that group of publications is all about.  If you missed it you can read the whole lunatic story here.

FoLo don’t quite get down to the depths of their paymasters but they do say, “Martin Odegaard could do with a top performance against Man City on his CV to use against his dwindling number of critics.”

I think we already know what he can do, and we see it in each match.  Anyway, FoLo give us what they describe as Arsenal’s dream line-up vs Manchester City:


White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko;

Partey, Rice, Odegaard;

Saka, Jesus, Martinelli

The Evening Standard doesn’t have any of that wishful thinking however and offers up


White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko;

Rice, Odegaard, Havertz;

Saka, Jesus, Trossard

and Sports Mole go with


White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko;

Odegaard, Rice, Partey;

Vieira, Nketiah, Jesus


So I think we can expect to be something along one of those lines.  As for the result.  Well, we know what the media predict, but Arsenal are often not quite so obliging.   As when they started talking of certain relegation, just two years ago.

21 Replies to “Arsenal v Manchester City: the progress, the possibility, the team”

  1. How that foul on Odegard was not a straight red beats me. Incompetence is not limited to offside calls. Disgusting.

  2. I guess after that second foul Kovacic has a licence to kill and can do whatever he wants now.
    Cannot be clearer…

  3. The commentators on german TV are just saying this is not understandable and the referee not doing his job
    That the first was not a red is not understandable, and thethe second one with no yellow cannot be explained.
    Basically the referee is making a deriliction of duty (my comment)

  4. Times are changing….the Guardian feed directly questions the not giving of red and second yellow and sky sports put the not red on twitter…. Will they lose all their passes ?!?!
    And now half time show this is again a subject, and no one can defend the incompetence of the referee and VAR

    I really hope Arsenal go after PGMOL and VAR after the game. After all Klopp did not restrain himself.

  5. In their Women’s game against Chelsea earlier today a City player got a second yellow card for taking 26 seconds over a free kick. In that game one law for Chelsea and another for City. City finished the game with 9 players. Refereeing at the moment is completely incomprehensible

  6. This has the feel of a heavyweight bout with a lot of body blows hoping to land a head shot in the later rounds. Man City’s closest attempts came after our give aways.

  7. Sky sports in germany even ran a poll at halftime. 85 % saw the foul against Odegard as RED.

    That being said, it does strike me that this thug went after our 2 playmakers… a sniper on a mission.
    And him not getting changed makes one wonder…

  8. Andrew,

    we are now seeing the total incompetence of PGMOL in full light and contrary to these past years this is being talked about openly.

    The shit is hitting the fan. Referees are being stood down, but no one is here to really replace them.

    My cynical self wishes a new statistic before each week-end : how does each referee feel. Did he have a good week, did the wife at home treat him right, were his kids nice and ok at school, etc, etc, etc, so we can understand why VAR does not contradict hom on the field…. cause visibly the referee must have had a bad week to be spared by his VAR buddies like he has been today.

  9. YES YES YES! What a win. How Kovacic didn’t get send off…. well only PGMO knows why. Played in a very mature way and Maartinelli with the icing on the cake. Assist from Havertz. Will also go down well.

  10. Oh what a day……
    Confining City to 4 shots off target in a full game.
    I mean… let no one say our defense is not good (when it stays on-topic).

    I wonder how many times Haaland touched the ball…. I’d guess less then 10… Saliba is a monster,

    Still on french TV they were saying City could have won the game….I wonder how if they did not get into shooting position…

  11. Saliba imperious – Haaland anonymous. Oliver has now joined the ranks of the cowards who are terrified of upsetting Guardioa. In the end justice was done.

  12. Altlhough neither team had clear cut chances, we created more chaos in and around their box. They just about edged us in possession but that was in the middle third. At 80 minutes a draw would have been acceptable even though we were outplaying them in the second half. Then, after the goal, they did not even get a sniff at a shot let alone a goal. A professional effort by the lads.

  13. Taksport is shooting at the referee. Here is their headline :

    “Referee Michael Oliver has been accused of ‘bottling it’ as Mateo Kovacic avoided a sending off during Manchester City’s clash at Arsenal.”

    Bottled it….
    They forgot to mention VAR as well.

    Now if VAr and Oliver are stood down next weekend, who will replace them ?!?!

  14. I was happy to see the triple substitution particularly because from about 55-60 minutes Nketiah looked really fatigued. I could see Odegaard waving his hands in frustration because Eddie wasn’t pressing. I hadn’t noticed any drop in Jorginho or Zinchenko’s performance but since Jorginho was on a yellow and Zinchenko didn’t seem as influential as he often is… perhaps there was something from their heart rate monitors.

  15. Now if VAr and Oliver are stood down next weekend

    International break coming up and so there is 2 weeks before the next round of matches . Pgmol will hope it’s all died down before then. They are nothing less than cowards hiding in plain sight.

  16. Mature performance from this young team. Tactics and substitutions were brilliant. Raya calm and had some nice long balls. They held City to one shot on goal and it wasn’t Haaland.

  17. Watching the game back again I can only echo the amazement of others about how incompetent/biased/corrupt [delete as applicable] Oliver was. An utter disgrace.

  18. Mikey

    Amazingly, MOTD somehow came to the conclusion Oliver did ‘very well’ to NOT send Kovacic off, despite agreeing the first challenge was ‘orange’ and the second merited a yellow ‘in the current climate’.

    So, how under any amount of reasoning can that equate to Oliver doing ‘very well’?

    But not only that, every other outlet I have seen and heard agrees the first was a red all day. The second a yellow all day. Also not a mention from the BBC of VAR’s failure to intervene on what we all could see in the first challenge. It was a clear error from Oliver. It should of been a red. Oliver should of at least of been advised to have another look.

    As you may of read elsewhere, I watched the game in a small bar with a mix of people and everyone to a man and women agreed the first challenge was red. It was one of those when on seeing the first replay there was that sharp intake of breath. It was ‘nasty’ was the consensus.

    Honestly, listening to those guys attempting to defend the indefensible was cringing.

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