Perennial fourth place finishers, Arsenal, welcome last season’s champions, Manchester City, to the Emirates Stadium for the ‘lunchtime’ kickoff this Saturday, September 13 (4:45 AM Pacific) in a match up that is sure to whet the appetite of soccer fans everywhere.
Arsenal’s deadline day signing, Danny Welbeck, hopes to make an impacting debut for the gunners after an impressive display on Monday night in Basel. Welbeck scored both England goals as the three lions opened their European Cup qualifying campaign with a win against the Swiss. Meanwhile, Manchester City looks to avoid a second straight loss in the Premier League. Something they’ve managed to do since October 2010.
Both teams have started their campaigns more slowly than they had hoped. Arsenal have dropped four points from their three Premier League fixtures, with their only win coming in stoppage time on the opening day against Crystal Palace. Manchester city, despite two impressive wins, at Newcastle and against Liverpool, found themselves on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline in a game against Stoke City just before the international break. Both teams looks to get back to winning ways and three points from this fixture could be vital for these title contenders come May.
Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, has injury concerns all over the field. At defense it is uncertain whether or not Laurent Koscielny will be fit in time for Saturday’s match and young Calum Chambers may yet again be forced into center-back. Even if Koscielny is fit, Wenger will be well aware that he was rushed back last time and a substitution was wasted only 26 minutes in. Mikel Arteta is another game time decision after he returned to training only this week. Aaron Ramsey is almost certainly out following an ankle injury he sustained with Wales in mid week. Furthermore, Theo Walcott is not yet fit after a long term injury, and talisman Olivier Giroud is out until at least Christmas.
With Giroud out and Walcott still a couple of weeks away from returning Arsenal fans will put their faith in new signing Welbeck after Yaya Sanago has failed to impress. The 21-year-old Frenchman is yet to find the net for Arsenal in seventeen competitive appearances and he himself admits that the change from French ligue 2 to the Premier League has been difficult.
“Football is the football, but it takes time to adapt,” Sanago told L’Equipe. “When you come out of Ligue 2 and you end up in a duel with [Vincent] Kompany, it is not an easy task.
Good news for Arsenal fans is, like Welbeck, Sanago has had a productive week on international duty, scoring three goals in two games for the French under-21 squad.
Alexis Sanchez has also featured up top for Arsenal in a couple of underwhelming performances, most notably at Everton where he was subbed after just 45 minutes. With the addition of Welbeck, it is likely that Sanchez can move out to his more natural position on the wing.
Manchester City boss, Manuel Pellegrini, has a concern of his own after Stevan Jovetic sustained a minor hamstring injury in training with Montenegro this week. Jovetic was out for most of last season but has started well, scoring two in two for the sky blues. With Jovetic out, though, City’s attack hardly faulters. Look for Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero to lead the attack on Saturday.
City’s incredible midfield is led by the ‘Princess Bride’ duo with Yaya Toure and David Silva starring as Fezzik and Inigo Montoya, respectively. While Toure can beat any team with his power, the more modest Silva is quite cunning in his ability to cut through defenses. Silva this time looks to avenge City’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of Arsenal in the FA Community Shield last month.
Unfortunately for City, new acquisition Fernando has been ruled out of a trip to the Emirates. However, Pellegrini now has the option to deploy the recently fit Fernandinho alongside Yaya Toure in midfield. Fernandinho has yet to play 90 minutes this season but looks set to start on Saturday.
Saturday’s game also features a quick return to the Emirates for right-back Bacary Sagna. Sagna spent seven years at Arsenal before leaving for City in the summer. He joins a backline led by 2011-2012 Premier League player of the season, Vincent Kompany.
Arsenal vs. Manchester City Prediction
City is arguably the strongest team in the Premier League and the gunners ought to be careful they don’t let City control play from the start. If City can dominate the midfield as they did against Liverpool, Arsenal will be in for a long day. It will be up to Jack Wilshere and Santi Carzola to get Arsenal on the ball in good positions to set up chances for their young strikers. If Welbeck and Sanogo continue their current form they can cause trouble for City’s backline. However, City’s midfield and attack will be too much for Arsenal in the end. Manchester City 3-1 Arsenal.
Arsenal vs Manchester City TV Schedule
The Arsenal vs Manchester City match will be televised on NBCSN at 4:45 AM Pacific (USA). For all other regions check LiveSoccerTV.