Arsenal's Youth Versus City's Moneybags

Arsenal vs Manchester City
English Premier League
Emirates Stadium, London
Wednesday 5th January 2011
19:45 GMT

The acquisition of the world’s most expensive players does not sit comfortably with the ethos of Arsene Wenger, whose Arsenal team seek the home victory over Manchester City on Wednesday night that would allow them to leapfrog City with a game in hand in this most absorbing of title marathons.

Wenger will resist a foray into the transfer market this month unless the verdict on Thomas Vermaelen’s injury is more serious that it appears. City, meanwhile, continue to stockpile some of the game’s biggest and most expensive assets and Wenger observed, “There is no realistic market. You know why? Because Bayern Munich can as well put £30 million on the table. And Real Madrid. You have always one club who has that potential to do it. That’s why for the ‘super’ player, there is no realistic market. For the normal player, there is a realistic market because he will not interest the club with the massive potential but the super player can be [of interest] to Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Man City and others.”

And Wenger admitted that Edin Dzeko came into that category, adding, “He is a super player. He is at the very top, when he is at his game. I see Dzeko a little bit like a Berbatov type, a guy who has technically astute, physically good power. At the moments he appears, he is decisive. He chooses his moments and is very strong in the air.”

Others have arrived at City for as much, if not more, and are barely used and, for that reason, Wenger insisted that paying as much was, for City, hardly a gamble, “You look at the number of players who cost £20 million who do not even get on the bench at Man City and £27 million is not a risk. It is a risk for me, not for them. The risk is linked – if you have £100 in your pocket and you put £90 on a blackjack table you take a risk. If you have £5 million in your pocket and put £90 on a blackjack table it is not a risk.”

Turning his attentions to the clash with City, Arsene Wenger revealed, “The squad is confident, has great belief, is very hungry, highly motivated to do well and, physically, we are in great shape. What we have done is change some of the work we have done, the preventive work. But you never know if that was what helped. I think as well we rotated a lot and that’s the main reason some players have not been overloaded.”

Some may like them, some may hate them and some may disagree with their transfer policy but Manchester City are genuine 'Top Four' candidate for this season in England. It seems after trying with no luck for the last two seasons, City have finally hit the nail on the head and besides doing well in the offensive department it seems – if I’m reading the table right – they have the best defence at the moment with only 16 goals conceded. So, maybe they didn’t do it the 'right' way but they deserve credit for breaking in the 'Top Four'.

The last time these two sides met, Arsenal came away 3-0 victors against a City side reduced to ten men. A searing goal from Samir Nasri, an Alex Song special and a late Nicklas Bendtner strike sealed the deal for the Gunners at Eastlands.

That was then, this is now.

Arsenal sit two points behind City but have a game in hand over Roberto Mancini's team. City look as though they will be without the services of either David Silva or Emmanuel Adebayor for the match due to injuries. But they still feature plenty of firepower with the likes of Carlos Tevez, Adam Johnson, and Mario Balotelli roaming the forward areas. Edin Dzeko looks likely to join that attack very soon as well, but does not appear to be arriving in time to face Arsenal.

For Arsenal part, they look pretty solid on the injury front, Thomas Vermaelen aside. Abou Diaby is still out, but Kieran Gibbs could return as early as Saturday. With Manchester United's victory over Stoke giving them a five-point lead over Arsenal, the stakes are ever so high for the Gunners.

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