This time it’s for real – Arsenal v Man City

When 13 men in sky blue and one in banana yellow masqueraded as the Champions of England on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon at Wembley, the travelling masses shrugged off a 3-0 embarrassment to Arsenal’s smoking guns.

The 25,000 or so Manchester City fans consoled themselves knowing that the Community Shield didn’t really matter.

No dress rehearsal - forget Wembley, it really does matter today at The Emirates today. Courtesy@MCFC

No dress rehearsal – forget Wembley, it really does matter today at The Emirates today. Courtesy@MCFC

It wasn’t a barometer for how the reigning champions would fare in the season that lay ahead – for goodness sake Davie ‘Football Genius’ Moyes – had lifted the cumbersome octagon monstrosity just 12 months previously.

Despite suffering the ignominy of a shock 1-0 home defeat to Stoke before the international break, City still sit above the undefeated Gooners, courtesy of under-cooked wins over Newcastle and Liverpool.

The transfer window has also closed since the last round of PL fixtures and it proved to be a bit of a pane for City.

Adios Alvaro - The Beast will be missed. Courtesy @MCFC

Adios Alvaro – The Beast will be missed. Courtesy @MCFC

Already handicapped by the ludicrous and dubious Financial Fair Play regulations – a complete contradiction in terms – City sold the ever popular Beast to Valencia, due to restrictions on foreigners in their Champions League squad and, remarkably, turned in a £9m transfer trading profit.

So much for ‘ruining football’ and ‘buying the league’ but hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of the Man City-hating media.

Under the astute off-the-field leadership of Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, City are working with a business strategy that is being implemented with skill, speed and precision, making them the envy of the football world.

Top leadership - City CEO Ferran Soriano and Director of Football Txiki Begiristain (left) are leading City right to the summit of European club football.

Top leadership – City CEO Ferran Soriano and Director of Football Txiki Begiristain (left) are leading City right to the summit of European club football.

Who knows, Arsene Whinger might, just might, stop bemoaning City’s good fortune after Sheikh Mansour’s generous investment, and give credit to a smooth running outfit both in the boardroom and on the pitch.

Sorry, what utter madness…of course he won’t.

He’ll be too pre-occupied at the prospect of Frank Lampard making his debut in sky blue and how City are bucking the FFP rules, albeit by his own admission, the visually-impaired Frenchman doesn’t even know the rules!

Will Lamps be in the limelight - could Frank make his City debut at Arsenal? Courtesy@MCFC

Will Lamps be in the limelight – could Frank make his City debut at Arsenal? Courtesy@MCFC

Manuel Pellegrini has admitted City felt some discomfort from the £49m transfer constraints imposed by UEFA. City have, nonetheless, stuck a proverbial ‘V’ sign up to Napoleon Platini by effectively not touching the funds sanctioned by the Euro-bankers (don’t you just love a bit of cockney-rhyming slang).

A reliance on three strikers is a risk City have chosen to take after turning down the opportunity to buy Falcao on deadline day. The early signs don’t bode well with Stevan Jovetic succumbing to a hamstring injury on international duty.

New beginings - Hot shot Jovetic's good start to the season has been halted by injury. Courtesy@MCFC

New beginings – Hot shot Jovetic’s good start to the season has been halted by injury. Courtesy@MCFC

Even more telling in respect of the match up to the Gooners, is the loss of Fernando to an ongoing groin strain, the injury that forced him off in the 38th minute of the Stoke defeat.

I’d stake my mortgage and Wenger’s annual sponsorship deal with Specsavers (Arsene suffers from selected vision), that if Fernando had been on the pitch he would have ‘halted’ Mame Biram Diouf’s surge upfield, long before he had sight of City’s goal. 

His absence deprives Pellegrini of what might have been his preferred option when wanting to stifle an opponent’s midfield creativity.

A back four protected by the ex-Porto bulldozer, Fernandinho and Yaya would be extraordinarily difficult to play through or around. It was a permutation that might have served City well, both at The Emirates and the Allianz Arena next Wednesday night.

Big miss - Key man Fernando will sit out today's encounter at The Emirates. Courtesy@MCFC

Big miss – Key man Fernando will sit out today’s encounter at The Emirates. Courtesy@MCFC

City’s Chilean boss isn’t one for compromising on attacking flair, but pragmatism has its time and place and that time could easily have been today at 12.45pm.

Shorn of two key players, City will still have the confidence and self belief that accompanies those beautiful gold Premier League sleeve badges. It’s a game that could see James Milner start and Lampard finally swap Royal Blue for Sky Blue in PL battle.

It might also be the day that Eliaquim Mangala makes his debut, as City opt for the pace of the young Frenchman, to counter the rapier-like thrusts of new boy Danny ‘I always envisaged playing for Arsenal (?)’ Welbeck and Chile speed merchant Alexis Sanchez.

Defence Chief - will Eliaquim Mangala be given his City debut by Pellegrini against Arsenal? Courtesy@MCFC

Defence Chief – will Eliaquim Mangala be given his City debut by Pellegrini against Arsenal? Courtesy@MCFC

Hopefully Pablo Zabaleta will be fit after Germany and Arsenal bit-part striker Podolski, injured the Argentine legend as the World Cup finalists walloped the World Champions 4-2 last week.

Zaba’s compatriot, Aguero scored against the Germans and could give the now internationally retired, Pers Mertesacker a torrid time.

Ozil, Cazorla and Ramsey – if the Welshman manages to defy the odds and recover from an ankle injury – are a talented trio who could create openings for new boy Welbeck.

Legend - Zabaleta adds much needed width to City's attacking play down the right flank. Courtesy@MCFC

Legend – Zabaleta adds much needed width to City’s attacking play down the right flank. Courtesy@MCFC

Captain Vincent Kompany will need to marshall his troops to maximum effect if a Wembley like blitzkrieg is to be avoided.

But, Manuel’s mantra dictates that he won’t be focusing on ‘incoming fire,  he’ll be training his sights on the rear-gunners and seeing what David Silva, Sergio, Edin Dzeko and the Emirates favourite old boy, Samir Nasri, can do to occupy the home forces.

It’s an intriguing match-up and one that will fascinate the partisan Arsenal and City faithful, whilst serving up a feast of entertainment for the neutrals.

Silva strike - Merlin made it 1-0 at The Emirates last time out but City were held 1-1. Courtesy @MCFC

Silva strike – Merlin made it 1-0 at The Emirates last time out but City were held 1-1. Courtesy @MCFC

Clichy will probably edge the left back berth ahead of Kolarov due to his extra speed, whereas Sagna, the third Arsenal old boy at the Etihad, should be on the bench.

Undoubtedly an asset for the new campaign, Sagna had an anonymous debut, in keeping with the rest of his new team mates, against Stoke. It was a day when Zaba’s overlapping play and indefatigable efforts were conspicuous by their absence.

Reborn - Gael Clichy has started the new season in fine form. Courtesy@MCFC

Reborn – Gael Clichy has started the new season in fine form. Courtesy@MCFC

Having splashed the cash on Alexis, Welbeck, Debuchy and Calum Chambers this summer, it’s an ironic role reversal for Wenger, now purchasing his team rather than attempting to bring them through the youth ranks.

City and Pellegrini have no beef with Arsenal’s new policy of buying in talent – I say ‘new’ but Wenger has also acquired Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey, Arteta, Koscielny, Mertesacker etc.

It would just make a change if Arsene stopped being such a massive hypocrite and criticising City for what he himself has been doing for several seasons.

Love to hate - Arsenal fans have never forgiven Nasri for leaving. Courtesy @MCFC

Love to hate – Arsenal fans have never forgiven Nasri for leaving. Courtesy @MCFC

City’s travelling support – with half price match tickets thanks to a club subsidy – can take heart in that Messrs Sinclair, Richards, and Boyata will not be on show as they were at Wembley.

Anything that even remotely resembles the shambolic performance of August 10th, will be met with very short shrift at a ground where City have only lost once in their last five visits – drawing three and recording a memorable win in January 2013.

Blowing up - Manuel needs to ensure his team get back on tract at The Emirates. Courtesy@MCFC

Blowing up – Manuel needs to ensure his team get back on tract at The Emirates. Courtesy@MCFC

A win or even a draw would be adequate reward as Pellegrini seeks to navigate through a triple header of Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Chelsea in the space of nine days. He knows it’s no time for deception or any disguising of City’s credentials as Champions of England and aspiring Kings of Europe.

Will the real Manchester City please show themselves by 14.45 today!


By David Walker

Dedicated to the wonderful people who have displayed community spirit, compassion & kindness in the wake of the horrendous blaze at the Manchester Dogs’ Home in Harpurhey. Such humanity far outweights the unfathomable evil that took the lives of more than 50 innocent creatures. RIP Man’s Best Friends… @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu




  1. September 13, 2014  4:40 am by John Reply

    Typical Man City supporter garbage..."why don't teams acknowledge our achievements despite us blowing over a billion pound to assemble a squad that have now twice fell over the line at the finish to win the league"...your never going to get respect from a coach like Arsene nor from football purest who think teams should at least try & run a sustainable model...if the Sheik left city in the morning whose paying all those huge wages? City would be bankrupt in a week, worse many player careers have been wasted at Man City because Mancini or Hughes could buy anyone & it didn't matter if they fitted the system...just so long as no one else could have them!! City as a football club should take a long hard look at where their going because through all their spending they are bringing no youth through & have no homegrown talent.
    Fans should be asking the trophy's all we want? Surely the bigger thing is to aspire to is to have not only success but also see your club built on a solid sustainable foundation that will see the club thrive along into the future...but instead city's fortunes have been built on sand.

    • September 13, 2014  8:32 am by David Walker Reply

      If you define 'blowing over a billion pounds' as transforming Manchester City into twice Champions of England in three years, establishing the club as one of the biggest in Europe, building an infrastructure for sustainable on field success, investing in and re-generating derelict 'brown field' sites in Manchester and becoming an integral part of the community and social fabric of Manchester then, yes John, you're bang on the money.

      City went without a major trophy for 35 years and, when in the lower reaches of the old Third Division, averaged home crowds of 28,000. We know how to support our team through thin, thin and anorexic times. I wouldn't be questioning the motives and loyalty of the City fan base for too long, it's not fertile ground if you're looking to win an argument.

      Sheikh Mansour has shown his commitment to MCFC and will continue to do so as we break even and then move into trading profit.

      Your sniping and bitterness is all the more lamentable given that Arsene's mantra of developing the youth to populate your first team has failed and now he is splashing the cash. The Arsenal business model has served you well, to a degree, and now, after that initial surge of investment, City have a brilliant business platform that will continue to serve us even more so. You'll see the Etihad Campus & City Academy will flourish in the next 4-5 years and City will succeed where Arsenal have failed.

      Finally, thanks for reading and commenting, even if you despise and begrudge everything that City have achieved and will go on to achieve in the years to come.

    • September 13, 2014  9:37 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

      "Typical Man City supporter garbage..."

      Our owners could have chosen any team in the world. Fact is they chose us and I can see why that would leave someone like you riddled with jealousy. City’s model is most definitely sustainable. We have no debt, the best training facilities in the world and far sighted owners who are in it for the long run and who are in David Conn’s words ‘richer than God’. We are thankful for the huge slice of good fortune we have been handed.

      Occasionally we have paid top dollar for certain players (duck eggs like Adebayor) but mostly the investments have been wise. Particularly Kompany, Zabaleta and Hart. Everyone who has come to City has seen their income boosted. And you comments on homegrown talent are a joke;

      Last season Five City Academy players joined up with England u16s for the very first time Cameron McCulloch, Joshua Murray, Elan Assiana, Diallo Sadou and Lukas Nmecha made the cut after impressing at England’s pre-season development centre at St George’s Park.
      Head of Academy Mark Allen is delighted with this astonishing landmark for the academy - the largest crop of City youngsters to be named in a single international squad.

      We have taken a long hard look at where we are going, and we like what we see.

      Time now for you to pop back under you bridge.

      • September 13, 2014  9:52 am by David Walker Reply

        Good intel on 'da yute'! Well done TT.

  2. September 13, 2014  4:55 am by goonermichael Reply

    May the best team win and all that.

    • September 13, 2014  7:20 am by David Walker Reply

      Totally agree GM - may the best team win...

      ...just so long as their name ends in CITY!

      Thanks for your gracious comment & for reading the 'opposition'.

  3. September 13, 2014  6:14 am by susan richardson Reply

    Everything crossed x Revenge the Wembley debacle.
    This international break is too early in the season feel sorry for all the clubs who have injured players. Be interesting to compare the numbers injured to a comparable period of EPL.

    • September 13, 2014  8:35 am by David Walker Reply

      International football IMHO is an unwelcome distraction and one that creates problems for clubs with injured players. The loss of Jovetic is a blow today and one that will only be countered if Ramsey doesn't make the game for Arsenal.

  4. September 13, 2014  6:41 am by guy Burke Reply

    I fancy at least a draw today, Arsenal will not play like stoke (a tactic of 5 across midfield which Manuel has struggled with on more than 1 occasion? ) a draw is vital at Bayern also , it will set City up for the remaining 5 ECL games and top spot will look more than possible. in Manuel we trust!!

    • September 13, 2014  7:23 am by David Walker Reply

      Two draws from two difficult away games would be acceptable. City haven't lost two PL games on the bounce since October 2010, it's a heartening statistic, and not one that we wish to see change anytime soon.

  5. September 13, 2014  7:07 am by pete lynch Reply

    Cracking piece and worthy tribute David. Oh how a city victory would set the weekend off nicely! Milner could well do a job in midfield and I see Lampard coming on with 30 mins to go when we are 3 up!

    • September 13, 2014  7:25 am by David Walker Reply

      If your crystal ball gazing proves correct, then you'll already know that a man in an Arabic MCFC scarf will happily buy you a large celebratory beverage next Sunday at Summerbee's!

  6. September 13, 2014  7:14 am by DOUGLAS HENSHAW Reply

    Great read as always Dave. It should be a cracking game personally I'm going for a draw The two players out will be a big miss but I think we have enough good players to cover for them. Just hope there's no more injuries. Arsene to stop whinging about city you need to up your meds David to quote a grumpy old git NOT IN MY LIFETIME.

    • September 13, 2014  8:38 am by David Walker Reply

      If Fergie had an ounce of honour in his body he'd have popped his clogs on May 13, 2012. He should have ceased to be, expired, gone to meet his maker, shuffled off his mortal coil...

      As for Whinger, we should all club together and buy him some more lemons to suck.

  7. September 13, 2014  8:59 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

    Crikey, sparrow fart and 8 posts already!

    Today is the first leg of a triple header; Gooners, Sausage Suckers and finally Chavs. A schedule only an idiot would think was down to the 'luck of the draw', but that's another matter. However, to use a cliché ‘you can only play the cards your dealt and I would be happily take a draw at the Emirates!

    Arsenal will try and run us ragged and I think MP's strategy will be to let them burn themselves out and hit on the counter, with Dzeko as the lone ranger.

    We missed Zaba against Stoke, his presence for all three games will be essential. Hopefully today's the day Mangala gets to show he's worth £32m, but Lampard's chance will probably come against Bayern on Wednesday.

    If Yaya get his arse into gear, we will win.

    • September 13, 2014  9:50 am by David Walker Reply

      It certainly is a challenging schedule but two away draws and a win over Maureen's bunch would be superb. The loss of Fernando is a blow, but like you and a lot of City fans, I'm looking forward to seeing Lampard in sky blue However, we mustn't lose sight of the need to keep Milner 'onside' with a new contract still needing to be signed. As ever I'll #TrustOurMP.

  8. September 13, 2014  9:40 am by Graham Ward Reply

    A testing eight days ahead. I'm going for a 1-1 draw here, but a win would be very acceptable.
    Mangala, Navas, Fernie, Milner in for me, and Dzeko as the lone striker up front, with possibly Silva playing off him.

    • September 13, 2014  9:53 am by David Walker Reply

      So many options for MP and he will have learned from the Wembley debacle, even though the City line-up that day wasn't representaive of our First XI. Cheers GW.

  9. September 13, 2014  10:10 am by Stuart Reed Reply

    Excellent read as always - 3 really testing games coming up by the end of which the press will be mounting another sacking campaign or just ignoring us as we've done well. Ian Herbert started the latest hate campaign in the Independent (of what?) with a couple of rants this week over how City have dodged FFP (Fair????) while the Utd pr team have explained that it was all Moyes fault & they can spend as much as they want & have a drop of 80% in last years profits without so much as a raised eye brow - cos they earned it by having sponsored noodles!. It really makes my blood boil which is why when we win it is sooo much sweeter

    • September 13, 2014  10:43 am by David Walker Reply

      LOL - well put Stuart #GRATITUDE

  10. September 13, 2014  11:26 am by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    Dear David - just for future reference, "Euro-bankers" is not cockney rhyming slang for "Totally corrupt-monopoly-protecting-c*nts"

    But that's probably just me being pedantic!

    Yours from behind the sofa,

    Fifth ;)

    • September 13, 2014  12:38 pm by David Walker Reply

      It does however have a certain ring to it.

      Thank you No 5.

  11. September 13, 2014  3:36 pm by goonermichael Reply

    I thought Wenger was the whinger.

    • September 13, 2014  4:58 pm by David Walker Reply

      As you were Michael - you were right the first time.

  12. September 14, 2014  3:11 am by goonermichael Reply

    lol he's moaning about the champions league seedings now.

    Anyway good game. Silly 2nd goal we conceded.

    • September 14, 2014  7:04 am by David Walker Reply

      Ref CL seeding 'moaning' - he has every right. Pot No1 should be the contemporary champions of the top 8 leagues in Europe. As the system - the rigged system - stands, it's protectionism all the way for clubs with historical CL records - rather like FFP - and non-reflective of the here and now.

      Arsenal are forever gaining entry via the knockout route and yet are always top seeds. It's a farce. For God's sake, City HAD to go in with Bayern Munich because UEFA didn't like the possible TV scheduling of the 2 Madrid clubs...WTF?

      I would maintain my view that the CL draw is manipulated by the cartel that dominates UEFA's corridors of power...and it stinks.

      As to the game, a draw was a fair result but Wilshire should've seen yellow twice. Clattenburg is a contemptible clown, but you'll see that theme in the RBNR match report, out later this morning.

      Once again, thanks for reading and commenting and, most importantly, for your ongoing 'civility' and wit.

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