Manchester City v Arsenal | Sunday 8 May | Etihad Stadium | 17:00
Leicester City’s title victory has really positioned this game as a moment of deep introspection for both clubs. Looking at the squads on show – these are certainly the two squads that should have been duking it out for that crown. Arsenal have gone through the entire spectrum of disappointment in regards to regaining the league title. Their emphasis on consistency and slow maturation needs to be addressed should Wenger hope to win another one.
Pep Guardiola will just be hoping that he will be participating in the Champions League next season as City flirt dangerously with city rivals United in that battle for fourth.
This should be an utterly engaging if bittersweet encounter that Leicester fans may just watch for a laugh.
To Win (90 Mins)
Manchester City 14/10 | Draw 5/2 | Arsenal 18/10
A 1-0 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid is nothing to be sneezed at. However, I was somewhat alarmed with the ease in which Real denied City’s so called ‘star’ players real goal-scoring opportunities. Remember, this is hardly a defensively sound Real side that we are speaking of. Aguero was utterly anonymous while De Bruyne only really came into life in the second half. Toure ambled around in typically somnambulant fashion; clearly the Ivorian mega-star feels that his service at City has been done. I expect Pellegrini to rest Clichy and Sagna following an energy sapping night in Madrid.
Kolarov and Zabaleta will come in to try to offer width for the side. Kolarov may come under pressure against the electrifying pace of Hector Bellerin. I expect that Nasri and Delph may also be brought in for this vital fixture.
Jesus Navas was excellent against Madrid and was rather surprisingly taking off in the second half. He may pose City’s biggest threat down the right-hand side. De Bruyne will probably be shadowed by Eleneny and will prove instrumental if City stand any chance of success.
In Arsenal they will face a well drilled if equally deflated outfit that have been doubly dismayed by the rise of bitter North-London rival Spurs.
Calls for Arsene Wenger’s departure are hardly the stuff of novelty. The laconic Frenchman has long since endured the scorn of a section of Arsenal fans who see consistency as a euphemism for stagnation. But Leicester City’s triumph this season has really exacerbated the point. Arsenal, on top at Christmas, will have felt that they held all the cards in the title race. There have been injury concerns, but their squad depth is considerable. I just don’t quite understand it. The adherence to stylistic integrity over results has taken on near-Shakespearean levels of silliness. Wenger needs to refocus some of his attention on basic defensive planning.
Gabriel has been wildly inconsistent this season and could come under pressure if Aguero shakes off a disappointing performance in Madrid. Eleneny has been a find in midfield – showing the ability to provide momentum in attack as well as be frugal in defensive duties. Iwobe and Sanchez will operate on the wings and provide width for Wellbeck. Ozil – criminally omitted from the PFA team of the season – is going to be the man to watch I feel. Ronaldo was not fully fit and failed to exploit bountiful space left by City in Madrid. Ozil’s intelligent range of passing and vision will give Arsenal impetus going forward. Kompany’s absence will be felt as Mangala struggles to overcome his reputation as somewhat of a clumsy central defender.
The Verdict: Double Chance Arsenal to Win or Draw at 5/10.
Arsenal have had more time to fan their disappointment and should have enough to take down a dejected City side. Look for Ozil to control proceedings and make a late push for that Premier League assist record.