Arsenal vs. Manchester City Preview – A view from the opposition

everyone. This marks the start of our ‘View from the Opponent’ feature for the
season ahead. Gunners Town will bring you the vibes from all our opponents
pre-match in what I hope will be an exciting new feature.

Gunners Town talk to two Manchester
City bloggers ahead of
our final pre-season match against the Citizens. Ric of Bluemoon and Rob Pollard of TypicallyCity both run
successful blogs and were happy to answer my questions.

two City supporters share similar views as they think Jesus Navas could be City’s
driving force this season while also choosing Jack Wilshire as the one Arsenal
player they’d like to have in their team.

New season, new manager! How are you feeling as we go into the new

Ric: I’m optimistic about the season ahead. A couple of glaring weaknesses
in the squad (namely a lack of pace and width) have been addressed by the new
signings, whilst I’ve been impressed with Pellegrini’s management so far. He
seems to have gained the respect of the players quickly, and has a reputation
for playing attractive, attacking football.

Rob: Really excited. The new signings have addressed
areas that needed addressing, and we have far more options now in terms of the
way we can play. Last season, we were a bit rigid, and we struggled to change
it. That won’t be a problem now. Navas gives us pace and width, and Negredo
offers us brute strength – a proper number 9. 

What exactly did the owners mean by their ‘holistic approach?’

Rob: It’s an
annoying word, isn’t it? Reminds of the six months I spent working in the
private sector!

refers to the fact that the owners want a manager who synchs everything from
top to bottom. So Pellegrini is expected to implement a style of play that is
used across the club and he will have to have involvement with youth
development and so on. Mancini was very much first-team only when it came to
his duties.

Was the influence of the Txiki Begerestian a big one in appointing

Ric: Begiristain wields great power at City, and Pellegrini was his choice
to replace Roberto Mancini. I think City are working to a more European model
now, whereby the manager focuses more on coaching, preparing the team and
dealing with the media, whilst the Director of Football takes greater
responsibility in player recruitment and the academy.

Which one of the summer signings do you think could play a key role this

Ric:I think Jesus Navas could be
key. Last season City struggled to break down teams who put ten men behind the
ball, but Navas has exceptional pace and directness.

Rob: I think Navas. That pace is electric – I’ve not
seen anything like it before. We had zero width last season and we’ve now got
an out-and-out, old-fashioned winger. He’ll make such a difference. 

While City have recently splashed the cash, this summer’s signings looks
to be more about quality than just big names. Do you see it as a shift in
City’s approach to transfers?

Ric: Both Begiristain and Ferran Soriano (CEO) identified our wage bill as a
major problem; they were alarmed by the wages being paid, in particular to
fringe players. This summer has seen four exceptional players arrive, yet our
wage bill has been cut considerably. Big earners such as Carlos Tevez, Mario
Balotelli, Kolo Toure, Wayne
Bridge, and Roque Santa Cruz have
left, whilst the new players are on performance related contracts meaning their
basic wage is much lower than that of the players they have replaced.

Are you expecting more signings?

Rob: Yes, we could do with a centre-half as Kolo has
left and Nastasic got injured in preseason. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see a
defender arrive. There’s a lot of talk about Pepe from Madrid
but he’ll cost a fair whack.

What’s your take on Arsenal?

Ric: I always liked Arsenal as a club, as they played attractive football and
prevented United from winning the league a couple of times. However, post
takeover, the relationship has soured. It’s understandable to a large extent,
as I imagine it galls that City have signed Arsenal players.

a degree of hypocrisy, however, in the accusations of “buying
success” as that’s precisely what Arsenal did with Danny Fiszman’s
investment in the 1990s, albeit on a smaller scale. Likewise with the tired
“no history” argument; City won the F.A. Cup, League Cup and European
Cup Winners Cup before Arsenal managed to, so it seems an extremely selective
definition of history.

Rob: I used to love
them. When they challenged United, had an amazing team, and battered us every
time we met I loved Arsenal. Now, your fans hate us so much I find it difficult
to like you anymore. I respect the way Arsenal are run. It’s
refreshing and sensible. I also think Wenger is an amazing man and brilliant

Do you think someone like Suarez could be a statement of intent from

Ric: I think signing Suarez would be quite a coup for Arsenal, but that one
signing wouldn’t necessarily make you title contenders. It may, however, be
crucial in terms of ensuring a top four finish.

Rob: Definitely. If
Arsenal signing Suarez would send a message out that you want to compete for
the best players again. He’s a fantastic player, so if you sign him and stops
being vile you’re on to a winner. I wouldn’t want him at City though. 

Are there any Arsenal players you’d be happy to have in your squad?

Ric: Plenty, but its Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshire who obviously stand out
above all others.

Rob: Wilshere. The
most talented English midfield player since Scholes; He’s incredibly good. I’d
also have Walcott. He gets such a bad press and I don’t get it. He’ll never be
world class but he has a lot to offer. 

Predictions for the season?

Ric:  Top 4: City, Chelsea, United, Arsenal;
Hull City,
Crystal Palace& Sunderland to be relegated.

Rob: Top 4: City, United,
Chelsea, Arsenal. I’m
not arsed about the bottom anymore. Spent years worrying about that and I’m
having some time off.

Vivek Arulnathan


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