Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side host Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on Monday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Manchester City arrive at the Emirates having attempted the most shots in the Premier League, and allowed the opposition the fewest. However their away form is poor - Manuel Pellegrini’s side haven’t recorded a league win on their travels for over three months.
The key to their defensive performance is the availability of captain Vincent Kompany, who has suffered from injury this season. Although not immune from mistakes in recent years, it’s difficult to ignore the fact City have kept seven clean sheets in eight games with the Belgian in the side, and just one in the eight games without him.
Nicolas Otamendi, Martin Demichelis and Eliaquim Mangala all look decent alongside Kompany, but without him City’s backline lacks a leader.
"Sergio Aguero is the division’s most clinical forward when on form, always looking to dart in behind the opposition defence, but is another who has struggled with injury this season"
Ex-Arsenal right back Bacary Sagna has become a regular starter this season, as Pablo Zabaleta struggles against quick acceleration.
On the opposite side, Gael Clichy has seen less playing time thanks to the good form of Aleksandar Kolarov, who boasts a tremendous left-footed delivery but often leaves too much space in behind - the No 11 shirt, traditionally that of a winger, somehow suits him.
A peculiar habit of City’s defence is their tendency to hold the offside line on the edge of the penalty box, refusing to drop any deeper. This can cause problems if the opposition find themselves close to the opposition box and slip a neat through-ball between defenders, and is something Arsenal’s attackers should watch out for.
Fernando’s unconvincing performances as a defensive midfielder mean his near-namesake Fernandinho is usually City’s deepest midfielder, with Yaya Toure tending to play to his right rather than at the top of the midfield trio - although the addition of Fabian Delph could push the Ivorian forward if Pellegrini wants to beef up his midfield.
Pellegrini is reluctant to play Toure in the attacking trio of his 4-2-3-1 formation, though, as he has Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Jesus Navas to choose from there, with Samir Nasri out injured.
The majestic Silva has often performed well in the no 10 role and has added goals to his game. Sterling dribbles forward from the left and De Bruyne is capable of playing right, left or through the middle - City’s record signing is excellent at finding space, and incredibly efficient in the final third.
Navas, while a more limited player, is useful for providing balance - rather than drifting across the pitch, he hugs the right touchline and always goes down the line.
Sergio Aguero is the division’s most clinical forward when on form, always looking to dart in behind the opposition defence, but is another who has struggled with injury this season.
Wilfried Bony, his most obvious replacement, prefers to come short but this can result in City playing in front of teams, rather than offering penetration, and therefore City have sometimes used Sterling in a centre-forward role.
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