Holy fudgebuckets, I’m psyched for this one, ladies and gents. A chance for this team, developing on a very encouraging trajectory, to take on the Premier League champions on their own patch.
I’m up for it. You’re all up for it, and I’m sure the team is up for the chance to well and truly announce themselves in the title-chase proper.
We’re coming up against a Man City side that is no doubt dangerous, very capable and very intelligent (more so with the loss of Samir Nasri to injury, nyuck nyuck) that could potentially pummel us into the ground with their megabucks signings.
Or, they could be swept off their feet by the Arsenal possession game. When this team gets it right, not many can withstand them, and we’re all hoping that is indeed the case at Middle Eastlands.
Man City have been defensively suspect in the early stages of the season so far, and I’m hoping that with our added discipline, we could steal a very memorable result. We’re not favourites by any means, but this is football. You just never know.
City manager Roberto Mancini isn’t writing us off either, going the whole hog to big us up as the greatest team to ever play the game. It’s an obvious tactic to 1) soften us up with compliments and 2) snap any complacency out of his own side. So you can guarantee both the Sky Blues and their home fans will be raring to go tonight.
I’ve been itching for 1:00am (Aussie time) to come around all day. It’s resulted in numerous media searches for every skerrick of information I can glean in the build-up to the big match.
But nothing comes close to the gold nugget I found in the Daily Mail. It’s easily the highlight of my NewsNow search this morning:
Clearly Mancini has been scouting London Colney extra hard for the next Arsenal star to tap up.
Seriously, what a balls-up from the DM. Clearly the intern was on duty while the editor was out on a coffee run, but a quick check of the team sheets from the Liverpool match will show Olivier “Jee-roux!” was in fact the one playing up front while Johan ‘Joo-roux’ was kicking a tin can somewhere near the director’s box.
Anyways, to the team that will actually be playing tonight, and I don’t think there’s much need to discuss it in depth today. I’m expecting the XI to pick itself tonight, with Gervinho holding off Oxlade-Chamberlain for the right wing berth. The midfield stays the same, Podolski and Giroud keep their places, and the back four is as you were in front of Vito Mannone.
It goes without saying the defence will have to be at its best against the champions, especially given City’s firepower at set pieces. But their greatest strength and biggest danger to us is their movement. Diaby will have to stick to the rampaging Yaya Toure like glue, while Sergio Aguero (back from injury) and David Silva are some of the trickiest customers in the league to deal with. It will require a team defending effort for us to get anything from this match, not just in-form defenders.
Nevertheless, I am very excited to see how we go in this match, given the way we played with an inferior team in the home fixture last season where we basically dominated possession and the tempo of play. Obviously playing at City’s ground (where we lost 1-0 last year) is a different kettle of fish, but the potential is there for this midfield, when it gets the ball, to boss the centre of the park and dictate play.
We’ll need the forwards to be as decisive as possible. Podolski’s confidence should see him continue true to form, while Giroud will have to scrap for every ball just like he did against Montpellier, and Gervinho’s decision making whether to pass, cross or shoot will be put to the test.
More to the point, it’s a potentially a seminal moment for this team. While it’s nice that a lot of the press has finally seeing what many of us fans have seen in this team (it takes a lot to convince the uninitiated that selling your best players can produce a better team), they will be just as quick to rip us to shreds if we cop a loss or two along the way.
But getting points, be it 1 or 3, against City on their own ground will go a long way to convincing the players that something special can indeed happen this season.
It will be 90 minutes of condensed emotion, hair pulling, swearing and anguish. That much is guaranteed. Whether that results in the right result is down to fate, which for many seasons now, has been more cruel than kind over seasons past.
Come on you rip-roaring Reds.