Scouting Report: Arsenal vs Manchester City

Manchester City is a particularly unpredictable team given the individual talent at their disposal. Roberto Mancini usually plays it safe when his side visit the Emirates and we’ve seen our fair share of goalless draws. But with City trailing United by 8 points, they have to come at us with everything they’ve got if they want to keep any hope of challenging for the title alive. At the same time, Newcastle are now within 2 points of us in 5th so this will be a must win encounter for both teams.

Arsenal’s last match against City at home was in the Carling Cup earlier this season. A match which really brought to light the talent of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Sadly, we know how that one ended. All it took was one swift counter attack from the visitors to finish the match off. They are very capable of striking back in a heartbeat as Sunderland found out in their last match.

The Formation

City will likely feature a 4-4-2 but their depth will make it tough to predict how they’ll line up on Sunday. The return of Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri will no doubt be a boost coming off their draw against Sunderland last weekend.

Aguero could partner Mario Balotelli up front with Nasri and Silva on the wings. However, the last time Samir Nasri played at the Emirates in that Carling Cup clash, he let the jeers get to him and put in a terrible performance. That will definitely be in the back of Mancini’s mind and with Carlos Tevez fit to start he might opt to leave Nasri on the bench.

The Gameplan

Manchester City play a very fluid game. There is a lot of interchanging amongst the attacking line and you can often find wingers switching sides or strikers moving out wide allowing the likes of Silva to drift inside to try slipping passes through the defence.

City also commit multiple players to close down the man on the ball which leads to big gaps in their defence. This led to the goals they conceded against Sunderland last weekend and helped create a large number of chances for them. Our players shouldn’t be afraid to taken on the City players however as they do stand off the ball a bit when being run at and instead try to box their man out. It should be easy for someone like Ox or Walcott to draw players in and then play it across to the open man infield.

Their main weakness is their lack of aerial ability. Players are constantly being beaten in the air and their only real good header of the ball is Edin Dzeko who may not even feature in this match. Of course, they have the height of Yaya Toure in midfield which will definitely give them some aerial presence in the middle of the park as well.

The Dangermen

Once again, this team is far too deep to really pick out a single dangerman as the starting line up still isn’t clear. We can expect darting runs from Silva, Nasri, Tevez and Aguero. Powerful runs forward from Yaya Toure and Micah Richards. As mentioned, Dzeko will be a big threat in the air and will need to be very tightly marked. There’s also the danger of Kolarov’s accuracy from freekicks. Or the explosiveness of Balotelli.

If you really had to pick a single player though, it would be Silva. He counts for a very large chunk of City’s creativity and will constantly be on the move. He isn’t the most powerful player and as a result draws a good number of freekicks.

The Weak Links

It’s very difficult to pick out a weak link in a very strong squad like Manchester City’s. There are a few familiar faces in the squad however. Samir Nasri will no doubt be hounded yet again by the fans at the Emirates and I doubt he has it in him to block it out and play a solid game.

The Verdict

This will be a very close fought contest and both teams are fighting for valuable points. Going on recent history you can expect maybe just a goal in this match and either team can get it.

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About Saurabh

Childhood Arsenal fan. Student of the game.

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