Wenger's hot seat as Man City come calling
Wenger's hot seat as Man City come calling
Forget Man United’s demise this, forget the red behemoth’s farcical performances. Everyone would hate to be David Moyes right now. Actually, who would want to swap with him? It’s Arsenal, the so-called ‘specialists in failures’, that are another reason to worry. They are in trouble, having been tormented by their great adversaries in displays that have bordered on catastrophic.
Arsene Wenger may refuse to accept defeat in the title race – a case of ego than reality – but the visit of Manchester City, with the second most lethal attack and the second meanest defense in the division, could just make the Frenchman’s empire capitulate in devastating fashion. You only have to go back to December, when the Manuel Pellegrini’s Citizens unleashed their venom on their title rivals, to understand the mountain that has been created out of the Gunners’ mole hill.
The Sky Blues may have flattered to deceive this season, what with being outright favorites and marauding, yet getting upstaged by the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool. But they are only three points off the top, with two games in hand. Certainly, with premiership bragging rights up for grab, the North Londoners are definitely fodder the Mancunians cannot afford not to chew.
The man from Strasbourg has been playing a mono-dimensional game, and he has to change his style and tactics. High line, intricate passing, free-flowing all out attack may work against meek opponents. Certainly not against the likes of the Liverpuldians, or even Jose Mourinho’s Blues, who made mockery of Le Professeur’s 1000th game in charge, in a 6-0 walloping.
City are strong. Heck, they have the strongest squad in the league. Just look at their attack, they can afford to have Sergio Aguero missing through injury. Look at their midfield; Yaya Toure, David Silva, Samir Nasri, Jesus Navas and Fernandinho have been exquisite. The defense may be suspect, anytime Martin Demichelis has played, but Vincent Kompany is one of the finest defenders in the Premiership.
Wenger has to deploy a side that can, nay, will defend. Not a team that is set to attack, like Man United found out midweek. Three points are what count the most, irrespective of how a team plays. And facing the City Slickers, Arsene would be forgiven for packing the bus a la Chelsea. But no, he won’t. He believes in his tactics, no matter how horrendous they have and are proving to be.
Everton are only six points behind the North Londoners, and are expected to bully Fulham at Craven Cottage. The Toffees have won 5 of their last seven matches and have a game in hand over the Gunners. In contrast, Arsenal have won 3 games, drawn 2 and lost 3 in the same period. The same statistics just like, you guessed it, Man United. From table toppers, they are where they belong, fighting for fourth. That’s called perennial underachievement.
Much has been said about the SAS strike partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. They are on fire, rippling nets almost with ease. The Liverpool duo is only the third partnership to hit 20 goals apiece in the history of the EPL. The Reds are currently the form club, having won 7 goals and drawn one of the last 8 league games to take them one point behind Chelsea. And Tottenham Hotspurs shouldn’t be a problem tomorrow.
The Anfield side is trailblazing, no doubt. A first, yes, first EPL title could be heading to Liverpool. It happened for Man City in 2012 and Chelsea in 2005. Yet again, one has to look at the Reds’ 2009 season to realize it could be so close but no cigar.
In that season, Liverpool lost only two games in the league to finish four points behind their arch rivals, United. They outscored every other team in the process and garnered 86 points. This season, they’ve already lost 5 games and, with Chelsea playing strong, coupled with City’s 2 games in hand, it will be hard seeing Jose Mourinho or Manuel Pellegrini relenting. Very hard.
Saturday 29th March
3:45pm Man United – Aston Villa, Old Trafford, SS3
6pm: Crystal Palace – Chelsea, Selhurst Park, SS3
8:30pm Arsenal – Man City, Emirates, SS3
Sunday 30th March
3:30pm Fulham – Everton, Craven Cottage, SS3
6pm: Liverpool – Tottenham, Anfield, SS3