It's been a case of 'out with the new and in with the old' at Manchester City this summer with Stuart Pearce replacing a handful of young fringe players with experienced campaigners like Dietmar Hamann and Hatem Trabelsi.
As Arsenal prepare for their trip north to face City, we asked Chris Bailey of the Manchester Evening News for the lowdown on our next opponents.
THE STORY SO FAR
"City lost nine of their last 10 games last season but Stuart Pearce has been very quick to point out that last season is last season and this season is this season. Of all the teams in the Premiership, City have probably got the toughest first week of all. They had Chelsea, then Portsmouth and now Arsenal. There is quiet confidence though, although those expectations probably won't remain high if they lose to Arsenal. It City had beaten Portsmouth in midweek then everyone would have felt more comfortable but there might be a bit of disquiet soon if things don't improve soon."
"City have let three young players go and brought in experienced players like Didi Hamann, Hatem Trabelsi and Andreas Isaaksson. Willo Flood, Lee Croft and Bradley Wright-Phillips are the three they let go but they were never going to be first-team starters. Wright-Phillips started one game in two years and, in Stuart Pearce's eyes, they needed to move on. The new players will be good signings when they are fit. Hamann is not ready yet and Trabelsi has only just arrived after waiting for a work permit. Bernado Corradi was sent off in his first game and Isaaksson has been injured so far."
CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM
"The new players will make City a much cleverer side than last season. They have much more knowhow and will be harder to beat, particularly at home. Hamann and Andy Cole will be City's two key players, they are the club's two Champions League winners. Sylvain Distin's decision to stay is good for the team and the manager but not so good for the club's finances because they will lose him for nothing next summer. However, City might have struggled at the back if Distin had gone."
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
"City need to get some creativity from somewhere. They won't concede many, especially at home. I can see them finishing mid-table. If they lose against Arsenal they could be bottom by the time they travel to Reading for their next game with one point from three matches. That would then be billed as a vital match for City. However, if they can nick a point on Saturday then their situation would look better."
"Pearce played 4-4-2 last season although he does sometimes vary it - they played 4-4-1-1 at Chelsea last Sunday. He could use either formation but the problem City have is that they don't have a natural left-sided player. They are looking to bring someone in but I can't see them testing Arsenal on the flanks. Georgios Samaras has been playing on the left in the first two matches and will probably do so again. Hamann, Nedum Onuoha and Trabelsi will not play."
IMPRESSIONS OF ARSENAL
"I'm resigned to the fact that the four at the top last season will probably be the four at the top this season. It's not tedious though, City have taken points from Chelsea and Manchester United in recent seasons and, of the other teams, anyone can beat anyone. There is an inequality which money brings though."
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