Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Manchester City

Emirates Stadium, London
Saturday, March 29
1:30 p.m. EDT, 17:30 GMT
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Mike Dean
    • Assistants: Jake Collin and John Brooks
    • 4th Official: Kevin Friend
  • Reverse Fixture: Manchester City 6 - 3 Arsenal
  • This Match, Last Year: Arsenal 0 - 2 Manchester City
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 93 Arsenal wins, 49 Manchester City wins, 41 draws
  • Arsenal's Recent Form: Disaster-Comfortable Win-Disaster-LOL Spurs-Dumpster Fire-Disaster
  • Manchester City's Recent Form: Loss to Chelsea-Draw to Norwich-Four Clean Sheet Wins
  • Weather: Partly Cloudy, 14 C / 57 F
Things feel pretty bleak. Arguments between the "Arsene Knows Brigade" and the "Wenger Out Brigade" generally leave me wondering how we ended up with so many brigades in the first place. I think it's safe to assume we all want the best for Arsenal Football Club and with so many important players sidelined through injury (more on that in a bit,) it can be kind of hard to see the forest for the... draws to Swansea.

Of course, things could always be bleaker. No matter how many trophies Arsenal have won or will win in the future, the Earth is going to be nearly engulfed by a red giant Sun in 5.4 billion years anyway and all life will be destroyed. Remember to keep some perspective (and your sense of humor) about things.

It's not a particularly wordy preview this week because, well, how much is there really to say right now?

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Koscielny (calf,) Ozil (hamstring,) Monreal (foot,) Wilshere (foot,) Ramsey (thigh,) Walcott (knee,) Ryo (ankle,) Diaby (knee)

Arsenal's wounded list is no better today than it was earlier this week, with seven first team players out for at least a little while longer. How long that may be is subjective, because time is merely a human construct which enables society to track the progression of events. Returns in something called "April" are slated for Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Aaron Ramsey, and Mesut Ozil. Jack Wilshere has stepped up rehabilitation on his fractured foot, while Abou Diaby, a textbook example of life's unfairness, still hopes to play some part in this season. Theo Walcott's season remains over, something that cannot be changed unless we redefine the term "season."

With such limited options, it's hard to see much of a change from the XI that drew Swansea midweek, though Kim Kallstrom's debut was a bright spot and the on-loan Swede might have earned a start in midfield. I'd say there's a chance of that, but not a strong one. Personally, I'd start Lukas Podolski over Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as well, as the Ox has put in a few shaky performances of late.

Predicted XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Flamini, Cazorla, Rosicky, Podolski, Giroud.

Manchester City Squad News

Out: Nastasic (knee,) Aguero (hamstring,) Richards (knee)

There are no fresh injury concerns for Manuel Pellegrini's side, who have already been without Matjia Nastasic, Micah Richards, and Sergio Aguero for a few matches. Aguero, who had recently scored in eight consecutive matches across all competitions, has been out since March 12 with a hamstring injury. City, of course, have eight billion attacking options who start in his place. Micah Richards, who has been out of favor anyway, has not started since the FA Cup loss to Wigan earlier this month. Meanwhile, Nastastic has not played since City's loss to Chelsea in early February.

Predicted XI: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Fernandinho, Toure, Silva, Nasri, Navas, Dzeko.

Current Form

Form? I have nothing more to say about Arsenal's form.

Manchester City, on the other hand, have not conceded a goal in a Premier League match since Branislav Ivanovic scored for Chelsea in a 1-0 win on February 3. City have kept clean sheets against Norwich City, Stoke City, Hull City, Fulham, and Manchester United since. They did manage to crash out of two competitions in the same week (I call that "Arsenal style") by losing to Wigan in the FA Cup and Barcelona in the Champions League, but they also have the League Cup in two after a 3-1 win at Wembley over Sunderland.

City have won 15 of their last 18 league games, drawing two (Southampton and Norwich) and losing one, to Chelsea as mentioned above.

Match Facts

Arsenal have won just one of their last seven matches with Manchester City, which came 1-0 on Easter Sunday in 2012. In the reverse fixture, Arsenal found themselves trailing 14 minute in through Sergio Aguero, then found themselves cut apart on the counterattack searching for equalizers. In many ways, it was exactly like the 5-1 loss to Liverpool and the 6-0 loss to Chelsea, tactically speaking. Arsenal as a squad was not built to chase the game on the road; their defensive stalwarts get exposed when chasing the game. The difference with the match in Manchester was the fact that City was exposed at the back a bit as well; that match ended 6-3.

In this match last year, Laurent Koscielny saw red just nine minutes into the match after denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity. City missed the ensuing penalty but scored twice later in the first half, en route to a comfortable 2-0 victory. Vincent Kompany was shown a straight red card on 75 minutes to even the match up 10-on-10, though the scoreline was decided by that point and his ban was later reversed.

The last three league meetings between the clubs at the Emirates have produced five red cards (Koscielny and Kompany last year, Mario Balotelli in the 1-0 Arsenal win in 2012, and Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta for headbutting each other at the end of a 0-0 draw in early 2011.)

The Referee

The referee is Wirral-based Mike Dean, who Arsenal literally just had 13 days ago for the North London derby. Dean's reputation precedes him, of course, but Arsenal are now unbeaten in their last four with Dean, winning three (Wigan last year, Stoke and Spurs this year) and drawing one, to Chelsea just before Christmas. Before this current run, Arsenal had a record of two wins from 21 matches across all competitions with Dean in the middle, including last year's loss to Manchester City at the Emirates, outlined in the previous section.

On the other hand, while Manchester City have only lost five league games this season, they have two losses from two matches with Dean in the middle this season: 1-0 to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in November and 1-0 to Chelsea at the Etihad in February. Those were City's only league losses since late October.

Around the League
  • Saturday (early): Manchester United v. Aston Villa; Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Saturday: Crystal Palace v. Chelsea; Selhurst Park, London
  • Saturday: Southampton v. Newcastle United; St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton
  • Saturday: Stoke City v. Hull City; Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Saturday: Swansea City v. Norwich City; Liberty Stadium, Swansea
  • Saturday: West Bromwich Albion v. Cardiff City; The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
  • Sunday (early): Fulham v. Everton; Craven Cottage, London
  • Sunday (late): Liverpool v. Tottenham Hotspur; Anfield, Liverpool
  • Monday (night): Sunderland v. West Ham United; Stadium of Light, Sunderland