Morning all.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think there was a boxing matching taking place tomorrow instead of a football match between Manchester City and Arsenal. Headlines have been written about how tomorrow is about Rodri v Declan Rice, or in my opinion, a player who tries every dirty trick in the book to gain an advantage v’s a classy, easy on the eye, midfielder.

Of course the midfield battle will be interesting to watch and I certainly hope Anthony Taylor watches it well but there will be other key battles going on throughout the game. Haaland against our two centre backs, Martinelli, if fit, against Walker, Bukayo Saka v Ake or Stones, depending on whether Guardiola sticks with a back 3. Kai Havertz against whoever tries to stop him which is likely to be Dias. KdB, one of the better players to grace the Premier League will be looking to better a player who is as good for Arsenal as de Bruyne has been for City over the years. Which goalkeeper will walk away after the game with the biggest smile on his face, David Raya or Ederson – assuming the latter will have recovered in time. Foden, Bukayo Saka and the silly debate about who is better, well, they are both top notch players in their own right. Silva, the ghastly little cheat who had to take a dive in the box a couple of seasons ago so his team could win a game they weren’t even in until then. Doku on his day can be a handful but Ben White has been in fantastic form.

Seriously though, the one thing we know we’ll get to see is two fantastic sets of players going all out for maximum points. One team has hogged the Premier League headlines for a long time, the other wanting, hoping and no doubt desperate to knock them off their perch.

It’s another battle between two Spaniards who know each other well, one being considered the best ever by many, the other no doubt striving to outthink and outdo him. I don’t doubt for one minute that Mikel Arteta’s one aim in his own footballing managerial career is to be better than Guardiola and for Arsenal FC to be better than Manchester City. Mikel Arteta was just a lodger at City but at Arsenal, he’s at home.

8th October 2023 at The Emirates was special. Gabriel Martinelli, returning from injury as a substitute came off the bench at halftime to score the only goal in the game. Arsenal weren’t playing particularly well back then. Raya hadn’t really settled and was quite poor that day, Kiwior was yet to be unleashed at left back and both Nketiah and Jesus started the game as Saka was ruled out through injury. Havertz was on the bench.

Haaland was for much of game, little more than observer to what was going on around him. Rodri was missing for City, Kovacic started but never should have left the pitch by choice as he pretty much kicked his way through us, especially Odegaard and Rice. Michael Oliver was weak so perhaps that’s why he’s not been given such a big match to officiate.

The game in October was pretty even as far as possession goes but Mikel Arteta’s team won the shots and shots on target stats, however, as was par for the course back then, finding the back of the net was a problem. Even Martinelli’s goal took a deflection off Ake. Not that I’m knocking it because that’s what can happen when a player shoots.

It’s always better to try than not.

More tomorrow….