Sunday, March 3, 2024

Arteta: Arsenal have the physicality to match City

After beating Manchester City in December 2015, Arsenal’s home record against the Blues made for very decent reading; we’d lost just one of 20 games in N5.

Since then, the sides have faced each other 22 times in all competitions and it’s been a world of pain for the Gunners. A couple of Wembley FA Cup wins and two draws aside, City have been totally dominant in the last eight years. Coming into Sunday’s match they are on a run of eight consecutive victories at the Emirates.

Even Arsenal’s penalty shootout win in August’s Community Shield hasn’t done much to change the narrative. City were so dominant in April’s ‘title-decider’ that the stench from that 4-1 defeat at the Etihad still lingers like a freshly laid turd. On a night when the players were outmuscled and the manager was outthought, our dreams of a first title since 2004 were ruthlessly crushed.

While the 3-1 defeat two months earlier was painful and frustrating in equal measure, you sense that’s the Arsenal performance that Mikel Arteta has been analysing with his players this week. It was a performance that offered green shoots of hope.

“I think, no question, when we played in Manchester, they were much better than us,” he said on Friday.

“I think when we played them here in many, many, many, many, many moments, we were much better than them, but we ended up giving the game away.”

He added: “We lost a few players for that Manchester game, very, very important players for us, but we did play them at home and it was a very different game.

“We have three huge clear-cut chances against them before they score the second goal,” he reflected.  “And we didn’t manage to score and we got punished by giving the ball away in the wrong area after regaining it straight away.

“But these are the moments. Small margins in football defines who wins at the end in big matches and those were some big moments for us.”

Having sold Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte, Ilkay Gundogan and Joao Cancelo in the summer, City are once again evolving under Guardiola. Declan Rice was a transfer target but after pushing up the asking price with their flirting, they walked away when it became clear he only wanted to join Arsenal.

The England international brings power and poise to Arteta’s midfield and the Spaniard is delighted by the performances of his £100 million signing so far.

“I’m extremely pleased,” said Arteta. “He can occupy different positions. I think he’s been really, really good as a holding midfielder. And yes, he has the qualities, the presence, the command, the quality and the understanding to be a top, top player for us in that position.

“When you pay that sum of money, you hope that they adapt really quickly. There are certain things that are very different [to West Ham], but I think overall he’s adapted really fast, yeah.”

Like his mentor Guardiola, Arteta has put a big emphasis on recruiting physically imposing players in recent windows. He believes Arsenal can now match City on that front. It certainly helps that both Rodri and Kevin de Bruyne will be absent due to suspension and injury respectively.

“Physicality is something that you need in the league, they are one of the most powerful teams in the league, that’s for sure, and you need to match that up.

“I think we do,” he added when asked if he has players capable of dealing with the muscle of Erling Haaland.

“I think we do have enough physicality in the back line to deal with those players and that’s something you have to prove it in a reaction on Sunday.”

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gooner

Hopefully we get a great spectacle and a win to go with it. And no drama from the match officials from the UAE gulf league

Alex

Haaland just needs marking properly for a start. Half of his goal he’s just free and it’s criminal for this league to give him those chances.

mc1892

I mean he’s free because he has probably the best movement of any striker for about twenty years.. Let’s not undersell him, the guy’s a phenomenon.

Heavenly Chapecoense

He is Auba+, not more than that.

Been and goon

Auba plus 30 goals I guess.

goonshow

So Auba 2.0 (is is that Aube 2x?!)

Madness

The problem is we keep “giving the game away” in a lot of games. I keep saying we are the main creator for the opposition. I’m letting feelings take over now and I haven’t read any stats but we have to be one of easiest teams to score against. We don’t let in a lot of goals but the opposition doesn’t have to create much to get their goals or at least really good opportunities. That’s why I think we have problems killing games off. The opponents knows they will get 2-3 really good goalscoring chances in games against us… Read more »

Goonerrific

I mean we’ve lost one match in 10, I think we’re doing ok.

Been and goon

We’re probably more guilty of not killing games off, then get complacent and doing silly shit like Jorginho did against spurs.

We didn’t kill Fulham off and dropped points, Jorginho had a howler against spurs after having chances to go 2-0 up and then Raya undercooks a pass and the rest is history against lens.

We’ll be alright.

Ealing

The difference with city is that we dominate possession at the best 35/65. City goes 25/75, that makes a hell of a difference. That’s an extra 10% and city’s possession carries more threat, which is why the opposition team is worn out & Defenders can’t think anymore because they’ve been chasing the ball for 70 minutes and the only possession their team gets is from free kicks or throw-ins, we are not yet there and at the same time we are not the team that can withstand city’s barrage of attacks. The only chance we’ve got is stifle their attack… Read more »

goonshow

Yep – my much-banged-on-about ‘brain farts’… it’s just infuriating to watch a team that can be pure poetry, just cock it all up with one or two moments of idiocy.
Cannot understand how the ridiculously-thorough Mik has not drilled this outa them yet, but here’s hoping we do NOT have any of those today… although there have been few games where we haven’t brain-farted, we just got away with most against lesser teams – City will punish any loose thinking or discipline.

I have a feeling this is going to be 3-1 Arse today, though.

COYG!!!

Teryima Adi

It’s a clash of physicality then. 😀

Ebo

“I think when we played them here in many, many, many, many, many moments, we were much better than them…”

Not sure if quite that many Mikel! 🥸Sometimes I read his transcripts and think these are typos but when you then see him say it he makes it sound natural and not as weirdly comical as it looks on the page. He isn’t quite the “deranged mad professor” that Pep is but does have a bit of that same idiosyncratic gene of having, shall we say ‘unconventional’ use of language.

A Different George

A transcript of most people’s speech, even in their native language, is usually full of these sorts of things. If you listen to Andrew and James speaking during an Arsecast, it sounds natural and fluid (and, in my opinion, really enjoyable). A transcript would, I am quite certain, have many odd moments. Maybe even many, many, many, many.

Ebo

Perhaps. I never used to think that when reading Wenger’s transcripts though, or those from most other coaches and players. Anyway not even remotely meant as an insult, if anything the opposite.

A Different George

I agree, but I want to add that you would be surprised how often a “transcript” has been cleared up a bit by the editor. In fact, produced podcasts often (usually?) edit out the “errs” and “umms” and “you knows” from the audio of an interview.

Ebo

(in case that’s how you interpreted it, since it seemed like you were defending him). Especially as someone who appreciates people who dare to be different I find that’s one of the many, many, many things that makes him endearing.

Daveo

I think it’s fair to say in 5 moments we were much better than then, and in many more than 5 moments they were much better than us. Time to turn the tables.

Chris

Completely forgot about KDB!!
Bonus!

Jeremy

If 1) we get the majority of out best players on the pitch and they are actually fit (2 working legs)
2) we play with fluency and ambition we have only managed once or twice all season
3) we show some ruthlessness in front of goal
4) We dont hand them goals through sloppy errors
5) We don’t stop playing if we go 1-2 goals ahead.
6) The match officials aren’t corrupt

We have a chance. Otherwise I can only see this going one way.

truj

Then we have no chance, but we have some 😁

Mayor McCheese

So you’re telling me there’s a chance… YEAH!

Fezec

Pep Gruber: Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy?
Miki McClane: Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.

Cranky Colin

No 6:
M Oliver is ref….. competent and NOT corrupt

Badaab

Everyone at pgmol is incompetent. The organization self selects for idiots.

jon

Arsenal’s style was never muscle, but speed – of thought and on the ball. A “physicality race” will be a lost cause.

Vieiraera

I don’t think he said that physicality was the only thing we’d offer against Citeh.

A Different George

Right. I’m pretty sure that Arteta is happy to have Zinchenko rather than Kolasinac at fullback.

Qwaliteee

Kick ‘em up in the air.

Especially Grealish. See if you can launch him into the Thames, boys.

COYG

TeeCee

How would you know the difference? Grealish goes flying theatrically if someone uses harsh language within 20 feet of him.

AlexNuggz

Would love to see a midfield or Party, Rice, Odegaard for this game, we have to win the midfield battle if we want to finally put this hodoo against City in the league to bed.

If Saka isn’t fit, I would actually be inclined to give Kai another go up top with Jesus and Trossard either side of him, Kai has looked most comfortable in the number 9 position and his physicalality will be an asset here imo.

Whatever happens, COYG

truj

Partey is a right back… 😀

truj

Partey is a right back

Arshavins left foot

Would it be a crime to actually play Zinchenko in his natural position in the midfield with Rice (if Partey is not ready). Without Martinelli covering Gabriel when Zinchenko goes in midfield, we do look exposed. Perhaps we could try a defensive option at left back Kiwior or Tomyasu.

Badaab

That removes the overload arteta is trying to create up top, so unlikely to happen.

He’s got no hair but we don’t care...

Just play Ramsdale.

I miss santi cazorla

Does that mean kai starts?

Basmati

Pretty much. At least he’s been putting up good defensive numbers

He’s got no hair but we don’t care...

Oh dear.

I miss santi cazorla

We must start Trossard, doesn’t matter at which position

batmanvanpersie

my prediction is that we’ll score first through saka or martinelli and then we’ll go into turtle mode. and then we’ll be under a tidal wave of pressure from city. alvarez or doku will then either have a cutback for haaland or alvarez will score a freekick from a rather soft foul outside our penalty area that one of zinchencko, tomi or big gabi commits. game ends at 1-1. arteta’s and the fanbase happy with the result because it’s not another defeat vs city.

Goonerrific

I confidently predict we won’t score through Martinelli.

Baz

Unless it is an unbelievable worldie from the sidelines and VAR somehow misses that he wasn’t a player on the pitch. I mean it could happen.

Badaab

And its elneny scoring in trainers and jeans with an overhead kick from the technical area, would you believe it?!?

batmanvanpersie

told you martinelli would score lol

batmanvanpersie

i just hope we can hold on from here

PTAFC

Hopefully we won’t have another defeatist gutless attitude like we did in our last league meeting. We’ve got to cut out individual errors to start and see where we can go

Baz

Still no KDB or Rodri right? I think we have a great chance at home to do the business this time. They dont look as clinical now as they did last season.

Wrrong

This is the game havertz and Raya were bought for.
Didnt City sting us in the past with a bit of the direct route?
I’m gueesing thats an element we will add to our approach today

truj

Today is the first international HFB-Giroud day. Congratulations to the new Milan keeper!

Badaab

Physicality isn’t the issue, it’s mentality. The manager needs to instill that winning mentality into the squad if we’re going to move past these financial dopers, particularly before the other sportswashing war criminals up north get going.

MONKEY nuts

No Saka. Martinelli or Partey in first 11. Georginho in.

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