Arsenal’s journey with Unai Emery has been very topsy turvy this season as the Spaniard marked his entry in the English Premier League with a long unbeaten run as the Gunners felt that they have finally found the stability and the perfect sailor for their unstable ship. However things did spice up when injuries played a huge spoilsport and especially in a certain area were the North London club is very vulnerable, that is their defence. The Gunners lost player after player in their backline and it was a test of their character to bail out situations which were continuously going against their favour.
The Gunners succumbed to an underwhelming 3-1 loss to Ole Solskjaer’s resurgent Manchester United at the Emirates which saw them knocked out from the FA Cup fourth round. Although Emery’s men responded immediately and a win over Cardiff City in the Premier League, which obviously acted as a confidence booster ahead of the big match against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
The Gunners are fifth in the league table and with this big tie coming up Unai Emery will hope that his boys can bring their best game on the night to churn out a positive result against the reigning champions.
However the North London club has faced three huge blows and sadly the injuries seem to follow the Arsenal players. This it is Swiss midfielder, Granit Xhaka, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and even versatile midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles is also unavailable for the crucial tie.
Xhaka seems to have picked up a late knock and was not seen with the team when they arrived Manchester and was not even present in the training photos which means it will be a huge void for the Spanish tactician against a tactically strong City side as it may all boil down to the midfielder battle heavily affecting the result of the match.
Mkhitaryan returned to full training last week after recovering from a fractured foot and Arsenal confirmed on Friday. The Armenian was scheduled to appear for a fitness test to prove his condition and unfortunately, the former Manchester United man has failed the fitness test. Being a creative midfielder Mkhitaryan has a knack of delivering on the biggest stages and his presence will be missed by the Gunners. Maitland-Niles also failed to prove his condition in the fitness after he missed out with a knee injury in their previous match.
However, amidst all the injury woes, Emery does have one point going in his favour and that is latest addition and January loanee Denis Suarez who has arrived from Barcelona and it is expected that the match against Manchester City will be his Premier League debut. Denis is someone very much known to Emery since their Sevilla days and the introduction of him in their lineup will add more quality as the Spanish midfield has great passing ability and will look to feed balls to Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Denis is very versatile and if Emery goes ahead and fields Mesut Ozil in that creative midfield role the 25-year old can play on either flank and has the pace to burn along with his crossing abilities to cause regular problems for the Manchester City defence.
We can only wait for the lineups to come out as Emery will definitely feel that his men are underdogs going into this fixture against the high flying Manchester City, who are coming to this fixture on the back of a defeat against Newcastle United. So it will a tactical battle between the old foes and let us see which one of them ends the night with the last laugh.