Arsenal vs. Manchester City
The Emmanuel Petit Golden Headband
Kickoff: 11 AM EDT, 8 AM PDT
Emirates Stadium, Islington, London
Form: ARS WWWWL | MCFC LWWDD
SB Nation's Blue Mancunian internet fiesta: Bitter and Blue
TV: Fox Soccer
One of the annoying things about being out of every cup competition is that there's only one game a week. So I've spent all week stewing over the QPR result (note: I have not done this. I have a life). It will be nice to have the palate cleansed by the easy win guaranteed by the visit of another sacrificial lamb to the...wait what? Manchester City's coming to visit? Ruh-rohs.
Arsenal, of course, are still smarting from that QPR loss, while Manchester City are relieved to have clawed back two goals against Sunderland last weekend. Arsenal will carry the same squad into Sunday's game as they did last weekend, with Abou Diaby "not quite ready" this week. So I would expect to see largely the same team selected this weekend as last; I would also expect that same team to actually show up this weekend, unlike last.
Manchester City are also relatively full-strength, and are led ("led"?) by the comedy stylings of Mario Balotelli. Balotelli is what must be awesome about being a top-class athlete; if I acted at my job like Balotelli acts at his, I'd be both immediately fired and subsequently completely unemployable. Exhibit B in "why I want to be an elite professional athlete" is the returned Carlos Tevez. It's the same with him as with Balotelli - if I decided right now to take five months off because my boss was a big ol' meanie to me, I'd probably never work anywhere that didn't involve a grease trap or a foul odor ever again.
Anyway, Balotelli's always a threat to score, and the rest of the team is rather good as well; Vincent Kompany doesn't get nearly the credit he deserves, I don't think, and while City's defense has recently gone somewhat soft, they're generally a solid enough unit. I always liked Kolo Toure, and even though he plays for Manchester City now I can't wish him ill (except on Sunday).
So anyway, yeah, City. They're a good team, they probably won't win the title, but more importantly, they spent a lot of money to not win anything, which is awesome. Arsenal, as mentioned, are basically the same team they were last week. I hope Wenger re-thinks the Ramsey-on-the-left idea, and Vermaelen will have to have a much better game, but in all honestly if this team just reverts to its typical form they'll give City a good game. (SERIOUSLY ARSENE DON'T PLAY AARON RAMSEY ON THE LEFT)
Arsenal hide a stash of fireworks under the City bench, which distracts Balotelli enough that he forgets what he's supposed to be doing and leaves after warmups because he thought it was just training. Arsene ties a rope around the Arsenal bench and Aaron Ramsey's waist to keep him from drifting too far inwards, which has the unexpected side effect of tripping up most of Manchester City's defense; Arsenal are 5-0 up before Mancini makes his first substitiution, who trots out to his position carrying a pair of scissors. Having cut Ramsey's rope, City score four in six minutes before Ox comes on in the 80th minute to score the goal that seals the three points for Arsenal.