Arsenal reserves vs. Man City; teams, tactics and the result

Arsenal reserves vs. Man City by Phil Gregory

Nothing like a bit of Carling Cup action to soothe the pain of the weekend’s result! When the draw came out, I was admittedly apprehensive, being that at that point, City were playing their first team in the competition and were on top form. Now however, I’m viewing it as an opportunity for the young Gunners to get a £200million scalp, and the chance to avenge the first team’s defeat at City in September.

Recent form:

Arsenal’s Carling Cup form has been good so far this season, after home wins over the Championship’s high-flying West Brom and struggling Liverpool. The Reserves starting the season flying out of the blocks, but have stumbled recently to Portsmouth and Aston Villa.

This form is somewhat surprising, given that the Reserves and, to an extent the U18 side normally start the season slowly and pick up as they go on, given the fact that the Reserves are effectively last season’s U18s. This means they need a little time to get used to the new physical challenge – remember, most reserve league sides put out a much older side than we do.

Man City, the newly-crowned masters of the draw after having gone a lengthy steak of games without a single draw. Bizarre. Home draws to Hull City and Burnley were particularly disappointing for them, considering the former is a Phil Brown side and the latter seemingly unable to get points away, consistently conceding heavily away from Turf Moor.

This has ratcheted up the pressure on Hughes, and the Carling Cup form of City’s first team hasn’t been impressive either. Struggling past what was a Fulham reserve side, prior to a mere two-goal win away to Crystal Palace though a five goals past Scunthorpe was more in keeping to expectations.


Arsenal are without Gibbs and Djourou from those who would be expected to be part of the Carling Cup squad normally.

Manchester City are without Martin Petrov, who was injured on international duty. Robinho recently returned from injury and could well be involved.

Key men:

This will completely depend on the team we put out, but after an impressive performance against Liverpool I hope to see Craig Eastmond start. When the young scholar was offered professional terms, it took many by surprise, but the converted fullback has shown that once again, the Arsenal coaching staff have an eye for these things.

Here’s to hoping he has a blinder and proves capable of covering for Song’s absence in January; though I’m almost certainly just dreaming here! The young tyro will be looking to control the middle of the park, and the City first team will allow the youngster to test himself against some of the best.

Carlos Vela could well get a run out, and the sublime Mexican needs to showcase the talent that made Wenger buy him at such a young age. With the injuries to our forward line, he will never have a better opportunity to cement a first team place than with an impressive performance in this match.

Nigel De Jong, the Dutch international, will be looking to bully what is likely to be a lightweight Arsenal midfield. He may find Aaron Ramsey a tougher opponent than he expects, given the Welsh international’s experience of less than scrupulous challenges at international level. Bellamy, despite being relegated to the bench in the wake of Robinho’s return, will look to terrorise Arsenal’s fullbacks. The pacy Welsh international has been shown to have a real eye for goal this season, and the Arsenal back four will need to be on their toes if he is on the pitch.

Arsenal predicted line up:


Eboue Senderos Silvestre Traore


Merida Ramsey

Walcott Vela Wilshere

Subs: Szcznesy, Bartley, Randall, Coquelin, Frimpong, Sunu , Watt

Cup keeper Fabianki resumes between the sticks, with Eboue replacing Gilbert. I feel Wenger may slot a bit of experience in where he can, and with Gilbert unlikely to ever make the step up for Arsenal, it seems sensible for Eboue to take over RB duties from him, given the fearsome wide options City have at their disposal. Traore is a concern if he starts at LB, as we can’t really afford to risk him, though the lad played well against Chelsea. Silvestre and Senderos will be the centre back pairing: let’s hope City don’t play pace up front or we may struggle here!

I Plumped for Eastmond to hold, but realistically, it’s wide open with Coquelin or Frimpong (who was nursing an injury during the previous matches versus Liverpool and West Brom) equally in the frame.

This position will go down to what Wenger’s seen in training, but any of the three are great prospects. Ramsey will playmake, as Fabregas’ apparent deputy, though thankfully Merida’s red card for a ban versus Villa Reserves doesn’t start until the 9th December. Walcott could well get a lengthy appearance, and Jack will be looking to light up the left hand flank.

Watt could well make a cameo for Vela, and the young gunner was impressive when he came on against Liverpool.


This is a hard one to call. The young guns always find it harder away from home, and we are talking about City here, a side with Champions League aspirations. That said this is a side who couldn’t beat Hull or Burnley at home, and frankly, our Carling Cup are better than both of those sides. We can win, but I wouldn’t bet my last £100 on it. We’re going to need to rely on the fact that our players will be playing free of pressure, and City’s will have an enormous weight of expectations on them.

Hughes wants to win this competition, his team selections have shown as much, and his team face a young Arsenal side, as well as being on a poor run. With a bit of luck, we can do this, we are including some quality players in the squad: Senderos, on his day, is a quality player, Fabianksi has shown glimpses of quality. Merida, Vela and Wilshere are all capable of a moment of magic to decide the game – if we are solid at the back, we can get a result here. I’m going to go for 1-1 at full time, with us to win on penalties after Adebayor skies his penalty. Now THAT would be brilliant.

Hope a few of you are making it up to the game; I’m travelling across from Leeds for it. If you see a spiky-haired student in a nameless (£4 a letter?You’re having a laugh!) 07/08 home shirt, be sure to say hello!

See you for the Stoke preview!

Phil Gregory is a 20 year old student at the University of Leeds. Studying Economics and French, he’s been a Gunner since he got interested in football at a young age, and plans on being a regular at the Arsenal away games in the North this season.

Billy the Dog is down the pub

ADVERTISEMENT:  We’ve finally tracked down the missing copies of MAKING THE ARSENAL at Amazon and they should be despatching again soon, but meanwhile you can buy a copy of what is only the second novel about Arsenal in all of history, from

31 Replies to “Arsenal reserves vs. Man City; teams, tactics and the result”

  1. A nice preview as ever Phil…..

    Our young team has every chance to beat anyone, they’re a genuine good football side.

    One off topic news: Wenger had said the we will be in the market in January. It’s the first time in awhile that he came out like this. Who’ll fit the bill for us though? Any thought?

  2. This sure is a tricky tie – I am sure we can take them but I’m certainly not brimming with confidence. Not least the thought of Senderos & Silvestre against any of Bellamy, Robinho & Ade – it’s not a good one.

    We need to get in among them tonight and we need some of our strikeforce to really grab the opportunity. Vela has been a little disappointing the last 2 games (though no more so than Eduardo) and I’d like to see him regain confidence. Perhaps the goals tonight will come from midfield? I do still wish we would shoot more from range.

    As for striker signings – I don’t know…I do feel Chamakh is not the answer at present (he is a handful and a good foil but not a real goal scorer).

    AND puuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuleeeeeeeeeeeease God! Not horseface RVN. It would just be wrong. Yuk. Yuk. Yuk.


  3. It’s going to be a difficult match with certain ex Arsenal players looking to make a statement, however i think what ever team Arsene wenger puts out will give a good account for themselves.
    I would realy like to see Coqulin given a run out in a 4-4-2 line up that would look something like this:

    Fabianski, Eboue, Bartley,Senderos, Traore, Ramsey, Eastmond, Coqulin, Merida, Watt, Vella.
    Subs: Manone, Silvestre, Wilshire, Wallcott, JET, Sunnu, Frimpong

  4. Thanks Phil – great article. I hope you are right about the fullbacks, but I don’t think so. Eastmond played right back up to this season, and I would expect him to return there. I put it at 50/50 as to whether or not AW will play Traore.

    AW tried to play Ramsey as DM before Diaby went off – maybe this is a chance for another try. That would mean Merida and Wilshere are the playmakers and Watt comes into the forward line.

    Diceman. AW heavily conditioned his remarks. Come January we will have Bendtner fit, and if Edu is not up to being the 3rd choice central attacker, then he is finished at Arsenal. I do not believe he will buy anyone. RvP is clearly on the way to being a world class striker. If we could buy Torres or Drogba, RvP would leave and we would, perhaps, be fractionally better off. If he buys a second choice, where does that leave Bendtner and Edu?

    Only if Edu is discarded will we buy a striker.

  5. I’d play Eddy. he clearly needs the time on the pitch. He desperately needs a goal to build his confidence which looks at basement level at the moment.

  6. This is the official squad.

    Tomas Rosicky
    Carlos Vela
    Aaron Ramsey
    Alex Song
    Mikael Silvestre
    Jack Wilshere
    Lukasz Fabianski (GK)
    Vito Mannone (GK)
    Emmanuel Eboue
    Armand Traore
    Fran Merida
    Kyle Bartley
    Francis Coquelin
    Craig Eastmond
    Emmanuel Frimpong
    Kerrea Gilbert
    Mark Randall
    Sanchez Watt

    I don’t know what has happened to Senderos but it look like Song at CB with Troare LB.

  7. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kyle Bartley would make his debut and start. He’s born in Manchester so I guess he would have worked his socks off in training to get the chance of impressing his home city. He gave a rather good impression during the reserve games I watched from over here on my computer. Maybe he is quicker then Senderos as well.
    I think that it will be the end of Senderos in January. That is if he’s not injured for the moment. There is no news about that.
    I just give it my go and be totaly wrong at the start of the game:
    Eboue, Bartley, Silvestre, Traore
    Song, Ramsey, Merida,
    Wilshere, Vela, Rosicky

  8. The taking the likes of Song, Rosicky and Eboue along could be that he wants to start them or have them on the bench to try sort things out if it went wrong ??? Only Wengers knows…

  9. It is years since he had anyone but a reserve player on the bench for a CC game. That means a team of:-
    Eboue, Song, Silvestre, Traore
    Merida, Ramsey, Wilshere
    Rosicky, Watt, Vela

  10. Eastmond could slot in as rightback, but i dont feel its likely. He got moved to further his development, a move back, even temporary, would go against that. Kevin’s absolutely right – Mannone will be on the bench. Song at CB will be an insane risk, if he gets injured… Seems likely given the names taken however.

  11. I know that the Lord Wenger has said that he sees Song as ultimately a centre back, and it may be that Wenger wishes to see how far Song has progressed along that route, in case Song is needed as a replacement in that department.

    After all we could play with Cesc, Denilson, and any one of Ramsey, Nasri, Rosicky etc etc in midfield. So looking for options in central defence is no bad move.

    I’ve no inside information to suggest that is so, just a sudden thought that popped into my head.

  12. It could be Bartley at CB, isn’t he 6’4” or something? He’d handle Adebayor with ease.

  13. stuart, they’ve just taken Arshavin’s post match comments on his personal website and turned it into a story. They haven’t even had the decency to acknowledge the source!

  14. hopefully the ref will have learned from last time and will be paying proper attention to our players having the shite kicked from them.

    as for song, hopefully arsene is playing the internationals at their own game by getting as much as possible out of him before he buggers off to africa. it would be ironic if he picked up a small knock before he was due to fly out, and missed the competition.

    whichever team we play, its going to be a tough match. ooze sees us as direct rivals. and ade has a stick up his arse (scuse my french) about us and really notches up his game. and its true that we dont really like playing in the north, in the winter and the bad weather.

    i have great faith in this young team so i reckon we’ll edge it 1-0 or 2-1. come on the boys.

  15. Well they gave their best but it was not good enough. Played some nice football but couldn’t score and they did and thats whats it all about.

  16. walter it wasn t that nice .passing ,and re-passing the ball without producing much chance become boring at the end.6

  17. Well I think they did rather well. Just look at the title, it was our reserves against a full team from City.
    Well in every season there is a period when nothings comes off for you and I feel this is the case now. We just have to win against Stoke and make sure we get back on the right track. The most important is we can play a squad that has rested the whole week.

    Chelsea had to battle 120 minutes and lost at the end. I bet they could have some tired legs in the weekend. Maybe we can get some points back over the weekend.

  18. Shots aimed for the top corners only score infrequently.

    I was surprised at the number of times we lost the ball in the tackle when our player had their back to goal. Not just the youngsters, Rosicky as well. Anyone got an explanation?

    The other point I want to discuss is SWP. He had a very good game. He was one on one with one of our guys numerous times. That never happens to Theo. If it were easy to get two on one, why didn’t we change after 10 minutes? I guess my real question is how we can best take advantage of Theo attracting two defenders? Lampard didn’t leave him alone on Saturday.

  19. Cape Gooner, Theo is not yet as experienced as SWP and I think his stop-start season to date has removed some of the fear factor from the opposition defenders. Or alternatively, they just take him out because they know the referee will not even call a foul. He just plays for the wrong team.

  20. not a great game yesterday but very understandable under the circumstances, yes we played a very young team a mixture of young reserve and youth team players and with 6 of the team under the age of 20 we can be proud of the way they tried to play the game.

    You also have to remember that the city team was put togather at great cost and looking at the owners face in the stands i recon he feels cheated out of cash.

    It also is very apparent from the display of the so called ref that we will never get free kicks or penalties unless the challange is so blatent as to be unavoidable (this must be the eduardo factor) and judging by the standard of the ref it’s true.

    I could point out the postions i thought we could have improved during the game and the mistakes by various players players but this would be taking away from the fact that we played city in their own back yard off the park at times, and the three goals scored by city do not tell the full story of the game .

    As for the handshake at the end,now way would i shake the hand of a person who had abused me during the game, it’s not sour grapes it’s pride and without it we are nothing!!!

    Well done Arsene!!!!!

  21. I’m the Barnet supporter from earlier in the season.
    After the stroll in the park for the Arsenal youth team v. WBA I commented that for the amount of money spent on them, and worldwide scouting done, they should beat the likes of WBA, Sheffield United and Burnley hands down.

    I also said that the point of a youth team is surely not to win a Youth Cup or compete in the League Cup but to actually provide first team players for the first team in meaningful games, and then I asked how many AFC youth players had clocked up 50 appearances in the first team in the last decade.
    As I didn’t get an answer to that I presume the answer was none.

    It’s not so much Wenger (who, incidents like the petulant non-shaking of hands last night, I quite like) but the AFC supporters I can’t understand.
    Don’t go ape, but the club is beginning to remind me a little bit of the over-hyped Tottenham team of the mid-to-late 1980s.
    Patronised to the hilt, commended over and over for playing pretty football, but in increasingly little danger of actually winning something.

    Compare that to the situation Arsenal were in five or six years ago. What’s happened?
    I think the youth set-up has been used as a smoke screen to the fact that Arsenal are now more likely to finish 4th than 1st…….and many of the fans seem happy with that.

    Maybe you have to be outside the situation to see it?
    One thing’s for certain the team they fielded last night are a very, very, very different proposition away from home than they are at the Emirates……does that suggest a promising future?

  22. Yes is does, it shows that we have quality coming through from the youth and reserves which you will of course agree with as you have always asked us for loans for our young players.
    And if you took the time to have a good look at the state of the finances in football at the the moment you would also see that the current trend of spending what you don’t have is unsustainable and it’s for this reason that many many clubs are in big trouble including members of the so called “big four” who’s going to survive the crash? Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City the clubs have a staggering amount of debt that would make a small country wince, so yes it’s important to have a good youth policy and having a good youth policy means being able to play these youngsters in matches where they will be able to match them selves against the bigger names in football and even if they loose they win the long run, just ask Liverpool how it feels to have an Arsenal youth/ reserve team with 6 players under the age of 20 years old beat them.
    I’m sure that if your club had the young players we put out last night you’d be over the moon.
    The future is bright the future is Arsenal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. To be honest, I’m starting to get real tired of the talk about winning trophy all the time.

    It could be argued that a club like Arsenal should be winning things at all times…..I agree.

    A club like ours is a top club that should constantly win something.


    Winning is not everything……it’s not.

    Arsene Wenger has been doing great things at Arsenal for over a decade, all his work cannot be undone by the lack of trophy in 4 years.

    And regarding last night, any team could lose to full strength mancity side like that.

    We lost but the world and Arsenal do not stop.

    Every year for the past 3-4 seasons people have said “this team is in danger not finishing outside top 4”, and every year Arsenal finished inside the top 4.

    And since we’re always finishing in top 4, people find something else to put Arsenal down – the lack of trophy.

    Just like when we won the league titles people still said “Arsenal is not good because they couldn’t defend a title”.

    Find me a manager who can managed a club with a limited budget to win 2 doubles and an unbeaten season then I’ll shut up about how I trust Wenger.

  24. No matter what the reason for it, all Wenger has achieved by refusing to shake Hughes hand is that he has given the evil press you hate so much another stick to beat him with, yet no doubt you will still blame the press for reporting this.

    Dull game really, only spiced up by the fact I was watching that while listening to Chelsea lose on 5 live, very funny to watch one game with anothers commentary, the headphones made it more fun I think.

    I have read the word ‘class’ on this site countless times in the last few days, where was it last night? Your players had little and your manager none.

  25. It was rather intresting to see how the incident with Hughes started and most off all the way the officials responded to it. Or better said : not responded.
    The rules are clear: a manager can stand on his hands in his own technical area if he wants to for 90 minutes as long as he stays in there he can do a lot exept shouting abuse to the ref or to the other team.
    So Hughes went out his technical area and ran in front of the other technical area to collect a ball and then said where the throw should be taken as well. When Wenger pointed out to Hughes that he had no bussines there some words were exchanged and Hughes made some gestures to Wenger.
    Now if I would have been the ref he would have walked. He made a number of offences:
    1) leaving his technical area
    2) involving himself with the refs decisions
    3) going towards the other technical area
    4) making comments to the other bench

    One could say that Wenger commited 1 offence: making comments to the ohter bench but that was only because the other “bench” was walking in front of Wengers area.

    You would at least have expected the 4th official to rush out and to tell Hughes that he was way out of order but I did not see him making a move.
    I’m not the ref that sends a manager from the bench for shouting once at me to call for a foul but if he does a number offences and clearly is annoying the other bench by his behaviour and thus cousing maybe some riots he will walk straight away.

  26. Joe;

    I really adore you for still coming here and making your cases.

    But Wenger did all of us a favor last night by not respecting the one who disrepecting him first.

    Hughes is a moron and always will be…..and class is something Chelsea players don’t have so I wouldn’t say anything about ‘class’ my friend.

  27. The hand-shake incident has clouded the fact that Arsenal (especially in the 2nd half) were really, really poor.
    In the quarter of the pitch from the AFC penalty area to the half way line, Man. City weren’t only winning the 50-50s (Tevez’s goal, Bellamy for the 3rd)…..they were winning the 80-20s.
    Indeed, before the cynical body check on him (please don’t bleat about 6 bookings, that was a sending-off offence), Ireland won three in a row!

    This youth team look fine at the Emirates (beating Championship opposition like Sheffield United and Liverpool’s Reserves) but I doubt that any Premiership or Championship side would approach a home game with them with anything but supreme confidence.
    Mark Hughes would have seen this game as his best chance of progressing in the competition…..easier than Blackburn Rovers for example.

    Certainly, were Barnet to play AFC at Underhill in the F.A.Cup and Wenger played that team, I wouldn’t take a draw before the game.
    The Barnet board might, for financial reasons, but I’m sure that 95% of the Barnet crowd wouldn’t.
    They look seriously light-weight away from home.
    Perhaps Wenger should offer to play all future League Cup games away from the Emirates to address the issue.

  28. Yes we are lightweight-but that could be an advantage if we could get our tactics right-and conceding 7 in 2 games against Chelsea and now Citeh shows that we have simply got it wrong against these 2 sides. Yes we have massive injury problems-even most of those playing are only half fit. My concern is the defence and midfield are not tight enough-especially on the flanks and our forwards are not tackling back effectively- pretty much all of the goals conceded recently could have been prevented. Players like Wright-Phillips and Bellamy are half as effective when they don’t have the space to run into we are giving them. Both Chelsea and Citeh have big strong hard working midfielders-they are excellent at containing and blocking- and protecting their back 4-our build up is slow and laboured-they have time to get back-we simply have to be able to keep a clean sheet-because what we lack in power we have an edge in passing and movement-and we have great players like Fab and Arsh

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