Arsenal vs Manchester City: Three key player battles by SE
Manchester City visit the Emirates stadium this Saturday afternoon, as they look to get back to winning ways after an ignominious home defeat to Stoke City, before the international break. Their opponents, Arsenal, have had a mediocre start to their league campaign, as well, which has seen them pick 5 points from three games. However, with plenty of injuries to contend with for both managers, it could prove to be an arduous task for either of these sides to come out in flying colors at the end of 90 minutes. Here, we take a look at three player battles that could play a pivotal role in who wins this Premier League encounter between Arsenal and Manchester City.
Mathieu Flamini vs David Silva
The Frenchman hasn’t been at his very best in recent times when he has had to warm the benches for long periods and, as and when Arteta breaks down now and then, always finds himself in a catch-22 scenario of whether he wants to play for his spot in the side or deputize for Arteta efficiently. On Saturday, with a distinct possibility of starting ahead of Arteta as Arsenal’s No.4, he will be tasked with looking after Manchester City’s playmaker, David Silva.
With their own share of injuries to contend with, Pellegrini is expected to shift to a more cautious 4-2-3-1 system, which would see Silva play in the hole. Towards the end of last season, when Manchester City played in the aforementioned system – Silva was irrepressible – while playing at No.10 for the eventual champions. Playing in the free role, Silva would have a wide range of touch points on the Emirates pitch, and it would be down to Flamini to not go to sleep and track Silva’s movement incessantly.
On Saturday, Silva would want to be a thorn in Arsenal’s flesh but, with Flamini’s propensity to tackle vigorously and make it disconcerting for the Spaniard, his credentials of being a big fish in the Premier League will be tested.
Pablo Zabaleta vs Alexis Sanchez
On the Left-Hand-Side for Arsenal, it will be an all South-American battle to drool over for everyone watching. Zabaleta and Sanchez are prolific players in their positions and, more than their innate skills, it’s their hard work and industry that will catch the eye of spectators at the ground and on TV. Zabaleta, during his long Manchester City career, has stood up to the likes of Ribery and Ronaldo, but the Chilean’s intelligent dribbling, in addition to deceptive pace, means that the Argentine will be given a run for his money.
Zabaleta can be very good going forward, but he has to be equally good – defensively – if he has to win his battle against Sanchez. The Chilean is Arsenal’s main man, and a good portion of Arsenal’s performance on Saturday hinges on how Sanchez fares as a Left-Winger against the ever so affable Zabaleta. In my opinion, this battle could, in all possibility, decide the destiny of this game.
Demichelis vs Welbeck
On Thursday, albeit Wenger was coy about Welbeck’s prospective debut for the North Londoners, it is almost given that the former Red Devils’ man will start up front for Arsenal. Brought in for his flair and versatility to play as a striker and in wide positions, Welbeck would want to fend off the gazing eyes of the world and make a resounding start to life at the Emirates. At the heart of Man City’s defence, he would want to drift away from Vincent Kompany, and keep testing out Demichelis’ slowness by running at him vigorously. Man City’s defence is one area Arsenal ought to keep probing, as it has looked shaky over the course of this season and, with the pace of Arsenal’s front three to contend with, Kompany and co. will be in for another stiff test.
Demichelis can be a good reader of the game but, even he, can be hasty in jumping into tackles prematurely. This is where Welbeck’s deftness and incisive movement could catch the Argentine cold. Albeit it will not be as significant a battle as Sanchez’s against Zabaleta, Welbeck, you would think, is a key component to Arsenal kicking off September with an indispensable win.
Going by the aforementioned player battles, this game promises so very much. From Arsenal’s perspective: if they can win at least 2 of these 3 player battles, they would give themselves a good chance of winning the game, collectively.