Arsenal’s first major pressure test and why cards are stacked positively 

by .

Today is a tipping point and we’re only in December. Lose to Manchester City and we hand momentum to Pep and Chelsea in a title race that already feels heavily advantageous to the Blues. Win and Wenger will have a proper title challenge on his hands, we can look at the Everton game as a blip and we can start thinking about how many points we can rack up in the remainder of the festive period.
So what do we know about City? ‘All the minutes man’ Fernandinho is not playing because of a suspension he picked up against Cesc, they have no Gundogan to pull strings and they have no Kun Aguerro. That’s a gift right there, it’s not as if they don’t have great players to step in, but the core is interrupted, especially in midfield.

We also know that City have only kept two clean sheets in 15. One against Watford in their last game which was perfect timing for us. John Stones has looked anything but a £50m defender this season and we know he can be rattled by an agressive press, or just being asked to make a simple pass. We also know Claudio Bravo is super suspect. His positioning has been consistently poor this season, he’s poor from crosses and it seems to get worse by the week as he struggles for confidence.

The key for me today is aggressively attacking them where their moves start at the back. Spurs had a great time employing that tactic. I also think we can damage them on the counter, they are such a mess at the moment. This was a great summation of City under Pep from Paul Doyle of The Guardian.

‘City could not cope with Leicester’s energy and directness and at times seemed confused by their own highfalutin scheming, with Pablo Zabaleta’s wandering role a particular puzzle. It is not anti-intellectual to suggest they were trying to recite poetry before showing they had learned their ABC.’

I don’t think City will be confused forever this season, so this is a major opp to do damage while they’re licking their wounded brains. But, as is a familiar pattern, when we’re called upon to fight, we’re always found wanting. This is a pressure game, the sort that will define our season. We already collapsed at Everton, when we should have taken a draw. Can Wenger summon something special, or will we be talking handbrakes and fatigue post game?

Who knows… but it’s going to be exciting whatever happens.

Buckle in and we’ll talk tomorrow!

P.S ok, so I was wrong about Ibrahimovic. But not wrong that we didn’t need him. We have Sanchez and a far more mobile set up because of it.

738 Responses to “Arsenal’s first major pressure test and why cards are stacked positively ”

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  1. Dissenter

    “P.S ok, so I was wrong about Ibrahimovic. But not wrong that we didn’t need him. We have Sanchez and a far more mobile set up because of it.”

    A goal is a goal…is a goal.
    Who cares if the striker scoring it is “more mobile”.
    You’re just like Steve Gerrard talking about ”Zlatan Ibrahimović is now proving he is world class”

    Why do people disrespect Zlatan so much. He’s better than any English player I’ve seen in the last 40 years.

  2. Dissenter

    The Everton game was the winnable one.
    The best scenario would have been to get four points from game on Tuesday and today.
    Instead it will be crises point till boxing day.

  3. Samesong

    Have a feeling that Yaya Toure will produce the performance of his life today.

    If there’s ever a time it will be against us and no other top team.

    If we win I’ll be ecstatic but can’t see it after that performance at goodison.

  4. vicky

    Yes, Yaya Toure is the key player for them. His performance will dictate the result of the game. We’re going to miss Santi today in the middle of the park. City have so many ballers in their team, will Coq-Xhaka be able to match them is the question.

  5. UK

    I wonder how anyone will dismiss zlatan. Except perhaps based on age. I think bar Messi and Ronaldo, he’s been clearly the best of the rest in the last decade. I actually tipped him to have made even more of an impact this season than he’s managed to

  6. Cesc Appeal

    Pedro

    Spot on.

    All abut attitude and energy today, harass City all over the pitch and look to explode on the counter and we can win.

    What Arsenal is going to take to the field though, the high energy and direct side that played Chelsea, or the ‘I can’t be bothered,’ ‘I’m terrified’ side that played Spurs and United.

    Big test today, big questions. We will have our answers by this evening. Really, you could not ask for better circumstances to play City, the only thing that could make this better is if we were at home, other than home advantage, I see nothing else for City over us.

  7. Paulinho

    Nice to see Bournemouth finally playing Wilshere in his best position – deep midfield.

    Not and never will be a number ten.

  8. TallestTiz

    As for todays’s game.. my gut feeling is on the neutral side.
    Arsenal might dissappoint…
    However, if we are to win, it will be a conprehensive blitz

  9. azed

    “This is the kind of game I would avoid watching just so my upcoming week doesn’t start with a train wreck.”

    Grow some balls mate. 🙂 It can’t be worse than the 8-2 we suffered at UTD some years back.

  10. WengerEagle

    ‘ It can’t be worse than the 8-2 we suffered at UTD some years back.’

    Nothing beats the 6-0 mauling at Stamford Bridge in 2014.

    Anfield a few weeks earlier had the potential to be the worst ever as well, if Liverpool hadn’t have gone into sleep mode after the first 20 mins when they went 4-0 up it could have been a cricket score.

  11. grooveydaddy

    Even though it was only the league cup, that 5-1 loss to spurs sucked big time…

    But yeah, that 6 nil to Chelsea and Mourinho was the worst for me.

  12. Dissenter

    We are the perfect team for any team to play when they are in crises.
    Aguero out, Fernaadinho out, Gundogan injured, Vincent Kompany broken, Pep is beleaguered …
    Bring on Arsenal.

    Reminds me of when Fergie beat up Wenger despite playing with a depleted team that had seven defenders in the starting line-up.

  13. izzo

    Hahaha Pedro… Zlatan would make the same impact Sanchez has. You are wrong and yes we needed him. Another one that bit the dust. You’re as reactionary and predictable as Wenger. Lol most of you still thinking we can beat City at their home…HAHAHA!!!

  14. Guns of Hackney

    Hopefully the terrible Oxlade Chamberlain scores a hatrick and adds another £10m onto his supposed £25m valuation. Then we can cash in and buy someone with an end product.

  15. Bamford10

    This game will tell us a lot about this Arsenal team, I think.

    The early season enthusiasm and buzz have worn off, we’re nine points behind the leaders and coming off a setback loss, and we’re facing a big team away.

    How will the players respond? What attitude will they bring to this game? What level of energy, confidence, commitment?

    You know what you will get from a Sanchez, from a Koscielny, from a Monreal.

    But what will we get from Ozil? What will the team response be if we go one down?

    Will be interesting to see.

  16. kc

    PS is confusing. Are you honestly trying to say adding a proven skilled striker to this squad was a luxury? Sanchez has done well up top, but what have we sacrificed out wide? Somebody’s been Wengerized.

  17. Guns of Hackney

    Nine behind Chelsea so lose this and it’s twelve. Can anyone see Arsenal taking back that from Chelsea? Must win game today, I’m afraid.

  18. R.S.P.C.Arsenal

    Just seen team …

    Wenger has long since excited me on team selection …
    You bring the apple teacher put u in team fiasco

  19. Kayciey

    If we play Ozil on the left, Sanchez in the middle and Perez on the right, then a midfield of Coc, Ramsey and Xhaka and back four of Gibbs, Kos, Gabriel and Bellerin, then play Ospina in goal, we’ll win it.

  20. azed

    “Nothing beats the 6-0 mauling at Stamford Bridge in 2014.”

    So many bad defeats to pick from i totally forgot about this one.

  21. karim

    2nd goal of the afternoon for Mario B, and Nice is virtually 7 points ahead of Psg before Monaco/Lyon tonight.

    Also, interesting that Madrid needed extra-time to beat Kashima Antlers, you know who with the hat-trick ( his 40th for Real ).

  22. leftsidesanch

    Citys back four looks disjointed to say the least, two fullbacks in the centre and a cb in their rb position. Will we make that count though? Not sure but I’m here to be proved wrong.

  23. Cesc Appeal

    So much will depend on Ozil and Iwobi’s attitude today, if they are in the game and have the right attitude, we have every chance, if they float through it, we’re going to struggle.

  24. Dissenter

    Just watching Wilshere getting regular games at Bournemouth.
    He’s another one that will be forgotten as soon as he’s sold.

  25. Dissenter

    I really think Oxlade should be starting. He’s the type of player that only gets better when he’s playing regularly.

  26. Sukky

    ‘This game will tell us a lot about this Arsenal team, I think.
    The early season enthusiasm and buzz have worn off, we’re nine points behind the leaders and coming off a setback loss, and we’re facing a big team away.
    How will the players respond? What attitude will they bring to this game? What level of energy, confidence, commitment?
    You know what you will get from a Sanchez, from a Koscielny, from a Monreal.
    But what will we get from Ozil? What will the team response be if we go one down?
    Will be interesting to see.’
    Couldn’t agree more

  27. Paulinho

    Funny watching Wenger fuck up season after season with poor management.

    Going with that clown Gabriel ahead of Holding his first big cock up.

    Cannot help himself and constantly gets it wrong in terms of not backing the young talent that deserves to be backed, and giving constant chances to those patently not good enough i.e Chamberlain.

  28. Elmo

    Why are we not angling at flogging some of our overrated players to China?

    Chelsea and others are making a shedload from selling their surplus to them, which will then be reinvested in leading talent. We should be actively seeing if any of them will pay £50m for Wally or Wilshere or Oxlade.

    The alternative is ending up with Bosmans and subsidizing wages etc when we eventually try to move them. The club should be trying to get a slice of the Chinese spending spree while it’s here.

    Oh, and I think we’re about to lose.

  29. vicky

    WE

    Our wing options are very poor. You give a start to any of Theo, Ox, Iwobi , Ramsey etc and you could ask why has a certain player been given a start. The big disadvantage of Alexis moving to CF has been absolutely pathetic wing play.

  30. Elmo

    Gnabry scored again. 6 in 14 in the league playing for a mid-table team, and 3 for Germany so far this season.

    Labelled by Bild as “the shooting star of the Bundesliga.”

    Sold for £4m.

  31. WengerEagle

    Vicky

    That’s fair, our wide forward options despite being our most stacked position quantitatively is up there with our weakest in terms of quality.

    None of Walcott, Chamberlain, Iwobi, Ramsey are good enough and we need Sanchez through the middle.

  32. Ankit_gooner

    “The key for me today is aggressively attacking them where their moves start at the back. Spurs had a great time employing that tactic. I also think we can damage them on the counter, they are such a mess at the moment. This was a great summation of City under Pep from Paul Doyle of The Guardian.”

    You are a bit unclear.If you want to press them,I suggest not to use this strategy.Its our 3rd game this week,if the coordination is off,there are huge gaps to exploit.
    If you want to sit deep and play counter,that’s probably the best way to beat them.
    Our xi is better than theirs for this game.They don’t defend the counters very well yet.Hopefully we can make them pay.
    I am predicting a 2-2 draw.Hope we win though.

  33. Elmo

    If Wilshere was offered £300k a week, he’d be on the first flight.

    Oscar is getting paid £400k a week, making him the world’s highest paid player.

    Heard plenty of prominent ex-pros this week admit if they ever got an offer like that while they were playing (i.e 3x their current salary), they would have signed at once.

  34. Dissenter

    Ozil is yelling at his team mates to press.
    What did Wenger put in their tea?

    Just have to contain the next 5-10 minutes of onslaught.

  35. WengerEagle

    John Stones is nowhere near a good enough defender, I don’t care how composed he is on the ball.

    Hummels/Bonucci’s distribution shits all over his anyways, not like he’s even great at picking out a pass.

  36. EN1AFC

    Both teams can’t defend to save their lives!! Gabriel just muscled off the ball by Sterling?! Coq and Xhaka pressing too high.. We will need to score at least 2 or 3 to come away with anything today and we should going by this city defence! Great for the neutral not for my nerves!

  37. Dissenter

    “As expected we can’t control the midfield with Coq-Xhaka, it’s a safe pairing but lacks in overall quality.”

    It’s an away game.
    We don’t need to control the midfield. We only have to sop them from dominating the midfield and rely on counters.

  38. EN1AFC

    So again, we’ve scored early and gone into our shell?!?! City will score there is no doubt about it, we are a shambles at the back. We have to be more proactive and get on the ball and run at their centre backs

  39. useroz

    Fine to slow an manage the pace just so the players aren’t complacent

    Too many loose rolling at the back. Not good.

    Why’s bellerin at left I chasing down?

    The city goalie is shaky. Shoot

  40. Bamford10

    Our one-touch passing looks good, & City’s defensive understanding looks terrible. Either team could score at any time, though.

  41. Dream10

    set pieces and low crosses are problems for us. we need a second goal before they score one to get something from the game.

  42. Ankit_gooner

    City’s halfspaces and central area is wide open.There is a lot of gap between arsenal’s attack line and the midfield line.This is causing an end to end game with no control what so ever.
    Fernando is a very conservative player in a positional sense.Yaya does not when he doesn’t have the ball.Just jogging around

  43. useroz

    Sometimes we ought to put the foot thru the darn ball and not screw around own 18 yard box…

    0 — 1. HT

    Sanchez doesn’t look too good. Don’t risk further damages ffs. Christmas is long…

  44. EN1AFC

    We will have to score a second to win this, no doubt about it. Our passing needs to be more composed, we are rushing opportunities to pass in between their lines on the break. Xhaka under pressure doesn’t fill me with much confidence at the moment.

    Great goal but I don’t understand why we haven’t tried to run at, and beyond their back 4 more, City are so vulnerable. But then again our defence looks extremely shaky too..

  45. Dissenter

    So far so good. City aren’t playing well regardless of the players that are missing in their line up.
    I expect Pep to make some changes while Wenger waits for the 67th minute to swap Iwaki for Oxlade and Coquelin for Elneny. He will bring on Giroud for Theo in the 75th minute.

  46. Confidentgoner

    I would sub Alexis and bring Giroud. We need this guy fresh. The injury is affecting his ability to run. Giroud can put away crosses with this City defense.