Lineups from 11:45am
ARSENAL: Szczesny, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Wilshere, Ramsey, Alexis, Ozil, Welbeck
Subs: Ospina, Chambers, Gibbs, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolsk
MANCHESTER CITY:Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Demichelis, Clichy, Fernandinho, Lampard, Navas, Silva, Milner, Aguero
Subs: Caballero, Kolarov, Sagna, Mangala, Nasri, Sinclair, Dzeko
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With the international break over it’s back to real football and Arsenal start with a home league game against the reigning champions. Neither Arsenal nor City were overly impressive in August and Arsenal took five points from their first three games while City took six. With Chelsea starting very well and winning their first three games it’s a game both Arsenal and City will feel they need to win and really cannot afford to lose.
Arsenal didn’t do well in early games on Saturday’s last season away to the better teams in the Premier League, but they are at home in this game. They haven’t lost a game at home in the league since the opening game of last season and they are more than capable of getting something from this game. It won’t be easy for them though as City have a very strong team and genuine quality in reserve too.
It looks like both Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil should be available for Arsenal after Ramsey picked up a slight knock for Wales away to Andora and Ozil didn’t join the German squad after picking up an injury in Arsenal’s last game away to Leicester. Kieran Gibbs and Mikel Arteta are both available again after recovering from their respective injuries and Arsene Wenger has a lot of hard choices to make when it comes to his starting 11. He will of course be without Olivier Giroud until the new year, but Theo Walcott should hopefully be back in a few weeks almost nine months after picking up his injury.
The first choice for the boss could be who to play in the centre forward’s role after Danny Welbeck was signed from United on deadline day. It looks like a straight choice between Welbeck and Yaya Sanogo with Alexis Sanchez surely reverting to one of the wide roles. I would love to see Welbeck in the team and given a good run of games in his favoured position to see exactly how good he can be.
I think it’s probably too soon for Gibbs to start after his most recent injury and I would expect the defence to be the same as the one which started against Leicester. In midfield I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arteta come back into the team at the expense of Mathieu Flamini although there is a case for playing both of them. Arsenal don’t look particularly strong in front of their defence and the worry is City through Yaya Toure will run right at and past Arteta in particular. Toure hasn’t been anywhere near his best so far this season and hopefully that form will continue against Arsenal as he is good enough to turn any game all on his own.
I hope both Ramsey and Ozil will play and that they will both play in front of Arteta too. I cannot understand why Ozil played in a wide left role in the two games he did play in so far unless it was to get some match fitness after missing pre season due to his World Cup exploits. The boss chose not to bring Cesc Fabregas back to the club and told him he had Ozil to play in his position and now it’s time for him to play Ozil there. There are few players capable of picking a pass like he can and he is unmatched in the number of chances he creates. I would love to see Ozil playing the ball through for a front three which could consist of Welbeck, Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
If that’s not a front three for City to worry about then I don’t know what is and there’s still both Walcott and Giroud to come back too. If that’s the front three for Arsenal then City won’t be able to push up and play a high line which should make them a lot less of an attacking threat. I would love to see City play a high line against those three players, but I would be highly surprised to see it happen. Of course there’s every chance they won’t be the attacking trio for Arsenal, but for me they would be ideal.
There is a train of thought that some players should be rested for the Champions League trip to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night, but I think Arsenal have to play their strongest team against City. If they can beat City it would be a great result for the team and might install some real confidence in the team ahead of the upcoming challenges. I have no doubt the game against Dortmund will be far from easy, but it would be much better to go there having beaten the Premier League champions.
With the starting 11 I have chosen there’s a few players who have missed out who would hope to be in the team. The Arsenal bench could well have Gibbs, Calum Chambers, Flamini, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Sanogo on it and they would give the manager plenty of options if he needs to change things at any point in the game.
It promises to be a fascinating game and I’m hoping to see an attack minded Arsenal team take the game to City and take the three points but it certainly won’t be easy for them. If Arsenal have to consider a trip to Dortmund on Tuesday then City have to worry about their own trip to Germany when they take on Bayern Munich the following night. I expect thoughts of those games to be far from both sets of players minds when they take to the pitch for their 12.45 kick off though.
I think Arsenal are good enough to win at home to City and I hope they go out there and show exactly what they can do. The start of the season came too soon for them and the team weren’t at their best despite being unbeaten in the five games they played in August. Before the season started they did of course beat City 3-0 in the Community Shield, but that game will count for nothing when it comes to the Premier League.