Time for Man City to make a Premier League move on tired Arsenal
Manchester City have been strong fancies for the Premier League all season, never bigger than 5/2, despite four defeats on the road, and now Coral’s solid 13/8 favourites.
But they are six points behind leaders Arsenal (2/1 second favourites) and punters will want to see them making a big move on the Gunners in the game of the weekend this Saturday lunchtime.if they are to keep faith with Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
City, poor though they have been on their travels in the Premiership, have been quite awesome at the Etihad, winning seven out of seven and scoring more than four goals per game. Sergio Aguero (12 Premiership goals this season), Yaya Toure (seven) and Alvaro Negredo (six) have been running riot, while Samir Nasri, David Silva and James Milner have also been getting in on the act.
And if ever there was a time to be playing Arsenal, it is probably now when they are showing the first signs of vulnerability in what has largely been a superb campaign.
One of the reasons many are doubting Arsenal as likely title winners (aside from their need for back-up for Olivier Giroud up front) is the feeling that once they hit an inevitable sticky patch, they won’t have it in them to recover. It’s a pattern we have seen before in recent seasons; raised hopes following a great run of results followed by a couple of setbacks followed by a collapse.
Well now’s the real test for Arsene Wenger’s talented squad. A home draw with in-form Everton last weekend certainly wasn’t the worst result in the world, but they were floored by Napoli in midweek in a Champions League tie they badly didn’t want to lose.
They looked physically tired towards the end in Italy, while it would have been a massive disappointment not to have gone through as group winners to secure an easier draw in the first knock-out round, whatever post-match spin they might have put on it.
City, on the other hand, will be as proud as peacocks after beating European champions Bayern Munich on their own patch, especially after conceding two early goals.
Okay, so they didn’t win their group either – and they were very close to it – but that wasn’t seen as a realistic objective (hence Pellegrini not doing his sums properly) and the overriding feeling in the City camp will surely be of a job very well done.
Arsenal gave Aaron Ramsey a bit of a rest on Wednesday, starting him on the bench, and the return of big players after injury (Theo Walcott is already back and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be available again shortly) will give Wenger belief that they can ride out a storm.
But it all points to City (4/6) this weekend and they look good for all three points. The big question then is how will Arsenal, if they are indeed beaten, respond to what will have been such an unproductive week? Will the new Arsenal bounce back?