It’s difficult to see how Arsenal can snuff out the threat of Manchester City’s attack at present because it seems no matter what , they have the capability to wear opponents down and cause that single error that can open the flood gates.
Arsenal surely can’t perform as poorly as their recent defeat in the Carabao Cup final, but they will have to step up their collective defensive duties to get anything from the game.
The problem here is the variation of attack. Sometimes they’ll go down the flanks , sometimes they’ll go straight through the middle in an arrow head formation. Sometimes it’s from a pinpoint long ball over the top or alternatively, from patiently passing themselves upfield which results in a smash a grab from just inside or outside the box.( Arsenal players training while it is snowing)
City’s ability to vary their attacks has seen them win by a healthy margin on many occasions and with the forwards they have in Agüero and Jesus, goals seem inevitable.
Yet it’s the creative force in midfield that facilitate the chances with the likes of Sterling , Fernandinho , De Bruyne , Gundogan , Toure, Silva and Sane all of which represent the supply chain that keeps the goals rolling and makes City so irresistible.
Arsenal fans may be relieved to know that Sterling is s doubt and that Fernandinho has been ruled out but City have depth in this area and it may not hinder them unduly.
Arsenal‘s approach will have to include marking key players out of the game and it may have to get physical to remind City there are two teams in contention.( Aaron Ramsey Vs Manchester City)
They can allow their back four to ball watch as they did in the CCF and they were far too flat for long periods , strung out across the edge of their own area.
Arsenal come undone when they are relieved of space and possession. Perhaps Arsenal need to copy this tactic to nullify and frustrate City by pressing high and limiting the flow and freedom of the likes of De Bryne.
Arsenal‘s formation is likely to see Shkodran Mustafi paired with Koschelny and Kolasinac come in for the injured left back, Nacho Monreal. Hector Bellerin will resume in his usual slot to give the North London club pace on the right.
The holding midfield roles are key and Wenger could go with a Ramsey, Xhaka or Xhaka , Elneny combination.
In the middle , I’d expect
Mkhitaryan, Ozil and Wilshere at the expense of Iwobi , which leaves Aubameyang up front to get the better of a well drilled City defence.( Chambers Vs Manchester City)
Arsenal may get three or four opportunities but they will have to be clinical or resist the temptation to walk the ball in the net with one pass too many. They have the luxury of Ozil and Wilshere’s vision to set Aubameyang free and Mkhitaryan’s flair for an assist to his former Dortmund partner , so the Armenian could , if on form , play a major role.
The major change Arsenal need to make is in their intensity. They were lacking any form of urgency at the weekend and seem complacent.
They will need to be sharp, focused and energised to even keep up with City.