Manchester City v Arsenal
Carling Cup Quarter-Final
Wednesday 02 December 2009
Kickoff: 19:45 BST
When Manchester City hosted Arsenal in the Premier League back in September, it was a cracking game full of drama, goals, unsavoury incidents and questions about refereeing.
The nature of today’s game is such that both City and Arsenal now have so much to contend with in their respective league campaigns that the fallout from their last meeting is unlikely to make any impact on today’s game.
Arsenal aren’t struggling in the league yet but they’ve lost two games on the trot – the last time they experienced a wobble this season was when they traveled to Manchester for two games and contrived to lose both of them.
Mathematically they’re still in the title race and yes, it’s only December, but Arsenal have failed every major test they’ve been thrown in away games in the league so far, and they’ve ballsed up two games they would have won last season (Sunderland away and Chelsea at home).
Robin Van Persie’s placenta treatment didn’t work – a torn ankle ligament means that he’s effectively out for the rest of the season, and with Eduardo in poor form, Arshavin ‘depressed’ and Bendtner injured, Arsenal have precious little up front to help them maintain their free-scoring form.
Defensively Vermaelen has shored up the backline but they’re still soft in the middle of the park, and the future is too far away for Arsenal.
If tonight’s game goes to form, Arsenal will be out of the Carling Cup. They’re already out of the Premier League. At least they’ve got the Champions League, right?
Manchester City Preview
Manchester City’s defending (or lack thereof) has been discussed to death, but here’s a stat for you – Manchester City go into this game having drawn a consecutive SEVEN league games. They have taken the lead in their last three games, only to let it slip (the last game featured this goal celebration by Jimmy Bullard).
So they’re going to concede goals. They’re also going to score goals – those draws weren’t goalless – and having put 5 past Scunthorpe in the last round and with Arsenal set to switch around the team to give younger players more experience (Wilshere is set to start), they’ll have more opportunities to score in this game.
Manchester City won’t be playing a weakened side in the Cup – any trophy will do this season and Hughes can be expected to call back Barry, Zabaleta, Johnson, Kompany and even Robinho back into the starting lineup. Against the likes of Ramsey, Vela and Walcott, Hughes will feel confident that his team can buck their trend of losing leads and finally score a win.
After all, playing a mentally fragile team at home is the perfect tonic for a City team that badly needs a confidence boost of its own.