Arsenal Vs Manchester City Preview: Podolski Fears No One & Hart Looks Vulnerable

Arsenal, who are unbeaten so far this season, face the ultimate test of their title credentials away at Man City today. This fan is optimistic they can pass the test...
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Firstly, I just want to say, in no uncertain terms, that I am neither jealous of Manchester City’s FIFA Fair Play ignoring, vulgar money spunking, nor am I upset that they have snaffled several players who have worn the glorious red and white shirt.

They can keep Kolo Touré, with his deteriorating defensive efforts and his lack of consistent fitness (which he sadly never recovered completely after his malaria bout, in my opinion).

They can keep Gael Clichy, purely because he left the club in the ‘right way’ and in Kieran Gibbs, Arsenal have England’s next left back and a player who I believe will ultimately be judged the better defender when the football history annuls are written. That horror lapse against Birmingham City by Clichy all those years ago will never be forgotten...

They can keep the pithy, petulant and perennial under-achiever Samir Nasri (I am well aware he won a league medal...from the City bench) who left The Gunners like a spoilt brat; after Arsene Wenger had moulded him from a promising French talent into Cesc Fabregas’ creator-in-chief heir apparent and before he could prove worthy of the role...and, some Gooners might say, the shirt...

There isn’t a Man City defender who will worry Lukas Podolski

And I really, really couldn’t care less that they bought Emmanuel Adebayor. Frankly, after his ‘performances’ against Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League semis, I would’ve driven him to anywhere and anyone who would have take him out of Arsenal’s changing room. The fact he is now desperately playing for cheers from the same ‘Jelly Totts’ who jeered mercilessly at him each time he scored against their beloved Spurs (which was actually very often in fairness to the man) says a lot about his career’s trajectory.

Make no mistake though; I would love it if Arsenal beat Manchester City this weekend. They are the champions and champions –elect. It would be the marker that announces Arsenal’s challenge this season. Arsenal come into this game unbeaten, with a defence that finally looks stable, a midfield that I swear you can hear purr, and a strike force that has truly blown away the start-of-the-season cobwebs. Man City come into the game after a morale crushing defeat to Jose Mourinho’s in-inner-turmoil Real Madrid. Roberto Mancini’s blue shirted backline looks more Leaning Tower of Pisa than Coliseum at the moment and Arsenal will fancy their chances to score. There isn’t a Man City defender who will worry Lukas Podolski and Joe Hart has shown himself to be vulnerable against long range pot-shots of late. When Man City came to The Emirates last season, to lay down a ‘we are a genuine title winning team’ performance, they came up very, very short and were found wanting. Granted, their attack is world-class; Edin Dzeko is a player I’d love to see at Arsenal, regardless of Podolski’s form. Carlos Tevez is a major talent and Sergio Aguero’s a class above both of them.  Yaya Touré, a player who by rights should really be an Arsenal player (after several opportunities to buy him for a pittance were passed over by Wenger), is an absolute superstar, a player who I think is actually comparable to Patrick Vieira in his pomp and he could cause some serious problems for The Gunners...if he isn’t too tired after ripping Real Madrid a new one...

Will Arsenal do it? Can Arsenal do it? Well, they do have the ability and form to leave The Etihad Stadium unbeaten. Laurent Koscielny, the vastly improved Arsenal #6, may be a better defensive proposition to deal with the two nippy Argentines than the towering Per Mertesacker, but will Wenger and Steve Bould want to change a winning combination? Will Oliver Giroud break his duck in the best way; against a rival?  Can Podolski continue his eye opening progress in his debut Premier League season? Can Santi Cazorla cause fellow countryman Javí Garcia and the laborious Gareth Barry to break out in cold sweats as they watch him race away?  Or will Mancini show Wenger that you really do need to spend the big bucks if you want to beat your rivals? And for all you Vito Mannone fans out there, yes, I hope he builds on his promising performances of late and does the #24 shirt that Rami Shaaban wore with pride, suitable justice...

Follow Greg on twitter @GregCross82

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