12 September 2014

Match Preview: Arsenal v. Manchester City, Emirates Stadium, September 13 7:45am (EST)

THE PREMIER LEAGUE IS BACK (*collective sigh of relief*). 

Danny Welbz is dat guy and the world affirmed it after his
brace vs. Switzerland. Source: Metro
Sure, it's wonderful and thrilling and truly delightful to see our new £16m signing Danny Welbz (dat guy) score a brace for England in their 2-0 Euro qualifier vs. Switzerland, but good riddance international break. It feels like it's been an eternity since our uninspiring 1-1 draw vs. Leicester City, and that combined with the fact that I've been gazing longingly at the new Arsenal team photos ever since they came out on Thursday morning means that I am more than ready for EPL action to get back underway. 

And just like that– practically out of nowhere– we find ourselves jumping right back into the swing of things with our first massive test of the season: Manchester City at the Emirates. This marquee matchup provides the Gunners with an opportunity to make a statement and silence the naysayers who refuse to believe in the validity and importance of our 3-0 Community Shield victory over City at Wembley last month (how they fail to see the immense significance and prestige in what is most likely the best and most important shield in the entire world is beyond me, but alas). The 3-0 victory (with goals from Santi, Rambo, and the handsome Frenchman) marks our most recent matchup vs. the reigning EPL champions, but Gooners will also remember our 1-1 battle at the Emirates in March, and our catastrophic and epically confusing 6-3 loss at the Etihad in December of 2013 (back when Walcott was healthy!). 

With Olivier Giroud's unfortunate ankle injury (sing a Giroud chant in his honor on Saturday), Welbeck looks set to make his Arsenal debut this weekend. Le Prof was quoted in a pre-game presser on Thursday saying, "Danny Welbeck is an ideal signing for us because he can play through the middle, which I think is his best position, but as well on the flanks." Welbeck has the potential to make an immediate impact, and his speed in combination with that of Electric Sanchez and eventually Theo Walcott is something that any (and every) team should and will fear. That coupled with the fact that he'll have the likes of Ozil and Santi Cazorla pressing forward and sending balls into the final third should hopefully translate into great success for the former United boy in London.

After three gameweeks Arsenal currently sit seventh in the table with five points after a win and two ties. The London side is unbeaten in 19 consecutive EPL games at the Emirates (14 wins, 5 draws), and they've won their last four in a row. Despite this, the Gunners' offense has looked somewhat unconvincing in the early stages of the season, and only time will tell if Wenger thinks that the current 4-1-4-1 system with Ozil working down the left side may not be our best option. With Ramsey looking doubtful after an ankle sprain (being assessed on Thursday), Gooners should still be hopeful and optimistic, taking solace in the fact that Ozil could potentially slide into a more central position with Cazorla and Sanchez occupying the left and right wings respectively. Other Arsenal injury updates have been positive: Arteta and Gibbs are back to normal training, Ozil is available despite not featuring for Germany over the break, and Walcott is only a few weeks away from being match fit. 

Arsenal and Manchester City's most recent matchup was at Wembley
in the Community Shield. Source: Ronnie MacDonald
City head into this match desperately hoping for a fresh start after a shocker of a home loss to Stoke last gameweek. They currently sit in fourth place with six points, and with no transfer deadline day activity to really take note of (aside from the departure of Negredo, Richards and Guidetti), their biggest news comes in Pellegrini's confirmation that Jovetic and Fernando will not feature this weekend. Stoke was able to stifle the City attack by effectively clogging up the middle, where Silva and Nasri normally maintain possession and distribute alongside Yaya Toure, and hopefully the Gunners will be able to build on this example and provide City with their second consecutive loss for the first time since October of 2010.

City only sings when they're winning. We're Arsenal til we die. COYG.

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