Season Preview 2011/2012: Manchester City vs Arsenal, a decade of changing fortunes.

“History, it’s the only way you can learn about the future” or so said my eccentric yet brilliant history teacher as he tried to engage a class full of Arsenal fans waxing lyrical in 2003 after Arsenal had pulverized Manchester City 5-1 at Eastlands. The performance still resonates with Arsenal fans, and embodies everything that was great about that team: 4-0 up inside 20 minutes through a blend of pace, power and artistry.

Yet one doubts that even our maverick teacher could have predicted that eight years on both clubs would find themselves on such different paths. Whilst Arsenal have become the model for prudent spending within their means, City have spent hundreds of millions of Sheik Mansour’s petrodollars in the pursuit of silverware. Much of the spending has been on those talents that Arsene Wenger had nurtured, with Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor and Gael Clichy likely to be followed this month by Samir Nasri in making the trip from North London to the North West. On that heady February afternoon in 2003, as Arsenal bullied their opponents on the pitch, it would have been hard to imagine that eight years on, City would be routinely tormenting Arsenal in the transfer market.

It is hard to remember a more dispiriting summer during Wenger’s long reign. In recent years Arsenal fans have become accustomed to losing their best players, but it is the manner in which Cesc Fabregas and Nasri have so flagrantly expressed their wish to move on that has been particularly galling. Meanwhile, the continued failure to sign an established goalkeeper or centre back has left the club with a feeling of weary déjà vu and trepidation.

Defensively Arsenal were a shambles last season and pre-season has already seen three calamities. Possibly the finest own goal since Lee Dixon’s beauty against Norwich from Carl Jenkinson, throwing a 2-0 lead away against Boca Juniors and Kyle Bartley’s o.g against the Red Bulls shows little has changed.

New arrival Gervinho has looked lively in pre-season but goals aren’t what this team is lacking. It’s a defender. Perhaps all the more frustrating then that he has been joined at the Emirates by 5’8, one for the future Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. As it stands Mr Wenger will be leaning heavily on young Jack Wilshire to keep Arsenal in the top four. If Wenger fails to sign three top class players Arsenal fans can expect 5th at best.

Meanwhile at Manchester City, whatever one says about Mancini’s dour tactics, there is something of the fantasy football going on at the Etihad superdrome, or whatever their stadium is now called.  The signing of Sergio Aguero is the sort of pre-season activity that fans across the world dream of; the thrill of signing a player who you’re told is world class but have only really ever seen before on YouTube or Fifa can scarcely be beaten.

The arrivals of Gael Clichy and Stefan Savic may add further defensive stability, although if you ask most Gunners fans the confusion Clichy caused within minutes of coming on in the charity shield wouldn’t have come as a surprise. In the meantime the Kia Joorabchian, Carlos Tevez circus roles on. If Tevez stays Mancini will have severe selection headaches, if he leaves then the Blue Moon will only rise if Aguero or Dzeko can fill Tevez’s considerable boots. The rumoured arrival of Samir Nasri will add attacking flair but the naturally cautious game of Mancini would have to adapt to fit Nasri and Silva in the same side.

City to could do with a lesson from history. When Chelsea started spending oil money they bought quantity over quality, only when the squad became settled and additions were real quality did they start to dominate. The question is are City ready for the evolution not revolution stage in their development?

With Chelsea currently struggling to make signings to reinvigorate an ageing squad, there’s a real opportunity for City to make a push for the title. They’ll certainly stand a better chance than they did in 2003 when Steve Howey and David Sommeil were regular starters in the back four.

Predicted finish Arsenal – Godders: 5th

Predicted finish Man City – CDE: 3rd

Think these predictions are wrong? Visit www.wildpunt.co.uk where you could win £100K if you predict the league table accurately and it’s free to enter!

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  1. Daz City says:

    all these moaning gooners tr being a city fan like, no fun at all for a long tim ad now we are gonna rule the prem. who’s laughing now as the blue moon rises!

  2. Chris says:

    I am AFC and gutted about Fabregas. Reading the article i think i am feeling like a spuds fan as it feels like we are getting left behind too. Reality is City can probablg have any player of ours they want, already Toure, Clichy and probably Nasri and it is all change. city used to be nothing, now we are heading that way, please arsene sign someone.

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