ADEBAYOR - he wouldn't dare, would he?
Arsenal visit Manchester City this Sunday in a big, big game at Eastlands. A win puts us in good shape heading towards the Winter, a defeat sees us pretty much looking down, rather than up. I don't mind admitting that I'm worried ahead of Sunday. I don't believe our centre-backs have the physicality, or the pace to deal with Carlos Tevez. And then there is the problem of Emmanuel Adebayor.
Last Sunday Man City played Tevez and Adebayor together up front and it seemed to damage their ability to get the ball in to attacking areas. Consequently they were outplayed by Blackpool through midfield. A second-half substitution (and some dubious officiating) changed the game. If we had the ability to defend I would be hoping that the same formation might be adopted this Sunday. Unfortunately we can't defend properly, and City will no doubt be a bit more cute about how they get the ball from back to front.
Whatever we think about Adebayor, we can't deny that he is a fine striker when he wants to be. Against Arsenal you can be certain that he will be in the mood to deliver. Last night Adebayor scored a hat-trick in the UEFA Cup (sorry, Europa League). Arsenal fans know, better than anybody, that he has the habit of going on scoring runs, before it all dries up for a month or so. We must hope, ahead of Sunday, that he bucks his own trend, and that Squillaci finally shows the hard-man side of him we thought we were getting. If Adebayor does score, I can't think there would be a repeat of his stupidity last season where he ran the length of the pitch, and was lucky the Arsenal fans were prevented from getting at him.
If City do play 4-4-2 then we can get at them when we have possession. If the referee (Mark Clattenburg - rewarded, for costing West Ham 3 points last week, with a top of the table clash) gets hold of De Jong early on, and stymies his aggression then Fabregas and co could have a field day. I expect Diaby to replace Wilshere, alongside Alex Song, and this means that Song MUST keep his discipline and stay in front of his defence. Andrey Arshavin will return out wide, and he is now owing us a performance - he is a big game player usually, and this is certainly one of those. We know how dangerous City's wide players are, and their full-backs also like to get forward, so Nasri and Arshavin have to be prepared to work back and help out Sagna and Clichy. If Clichy can get close to Adam Johnson, and stop him running from deep, then a lot of City's supply will be stunted, though I also fear David Silva might be starting to adapt to the Premier League - let's hope he stays on the bench.
If I was offered a draw right now I would take it - as I said earlier, a defeat could be disastrous for our season. Having said that, if we get ahead, then we must prove our mettle and hold out for what would be a massive three points. Here is what I expect the line-up to be:
Fabianski - Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy - Song, Diaby, Fabregas - Arshavin, Chamakh, Nasri.
There won't be a blog tomorrow as the night shift beckons. Next post will be some time after the game on Sunday evening (possibly late!)