DISTRIBUTIONS BEFORE OFF-SEASON
Manchester City not only completed the treble, but also reached the peak that they had dreamed of every year since they gained the status of a top club: they won the Champions League. Of course, after that there was a grandiose celebration, which flowed smoothly into a quiet offseason. Of course, there is always something to improve, but sometimes, if everything goes as it should, it is better just not to interfere in the situation so that it develops as usual in the right direction. Therefore, for a long time the “townspeople” were content with only one acquisition. And modest by their own standards, but more on that below.
Arsenal led the Premier League for a long time, but in the end they could not keep up with the set pace and fell to second place. And although the disappointment of the fans was strong, it should be noted that this is the best result since the 2015/16 season and the first return to the Champions League since then. The Emirates stands have probably already forgotten how the majestic melody of the anthem of the main European Cup sounds. So it’s more correct to say that the Gunners have finally reared their heads after a lackluster few years.
CROATIAN SUMMER IN MANCHESTER
The transfer activity of the “citizens” was very low. Some players have returned on loan, and for a long time the only notable newcomer was Mateo Kovacic. The club paid 30 million euros for the Croat and they accepted him with a clear understanding: this is a direct replacement for the late Ilkay Gundogan. Soccer players are very similar in their characteristics.
But just the other day there was news that the “people of the town” are still taking Joshko Guardiola from Leipzig for an incredible amount of 90 million euros. If the deal goes through, he will become the most expensive defensive player in soccer history. Josep Guardiola has never skimped on expensive defenses, and this is not a whim, but a necessity: Pep’s football, based on possession of the ball, requires very technical players not only in attack, but also in defense. And the Croatian is exactly the player Guardiola needs.
Of the casualties, Riyad Mahrez can be pointed out, who never became an indispensable element in the complex mechanism between Guardiola and Gundogan. It is the departure of the German that the coach probably regrets the most, but Ilkay himself wanted to go to Catalonia, so there was nothing to do.
LONDON HAS BEEN BUSY ALL SUMMER
Despite a great season in the Premier League, the Gunners did not even think to rest on their laurels, instead deciding to properly cheer up for the upcoming season. And they did it in such an impressive way that now it is Arsenal that has the most expensive squad of all the clubs in the world: 1,210 million euros. Now the demand of Mikel Arteta and his pupils will be different: they are no longer talented youngsters, but a team full of stars that can only set one goal in any tournament: victory. This is a completely different state, pressure and requirements.
In the summer, the Gunners bolstered each line impressively, buying Declan Rice, Kai Havertz and Yourrien Timber for a total of more than €230 million. Each of them is between 22 and 24 years old, so the Londoners have remained a very young team. Among the starters, only Thomas Partey is over 26 years old and can lose his place at the base.
But how to fit into the composition of all newcomers, if only Granita Xhaku was sold out among notable players? Conditionally, Rice will take his place, but having a wide range of roles, he will be able to play a bigger role in the capital team’s game. Not everything is so simple with Havertz, because there are no free places in the attack group. Bukayo Saka or Gabriela Martinelli are unlikely to be ousted by the Germans, while Gabriel Jesus has slightly different roles.
WHAT’S ON THE FIELD?
It is not worth drawing serious conclusions based on the results of friendly matches, but it is enough to take a closer look at the ideas that the coaches have. In this regard, we briefly mention that Manchester City has only three friendly matches: victories over Yokohama (5: 3) and Bayern (2: 1) plus a loss against Atlético (1: 2).
Guardiola in each of the control matches chose a new arrangement and shuffled the composition. The team has changed little compared to last season, so it is quite understandable that Pep does not need more games, he already knows very well what his players are capable of.
Arsenal have played six games, but they also have a lot more newcomers who need to fit into the team somehow. This takes time. In general, the Londoners have two wins, including over Barcelona (5:3), three draws and a loss against Manchester United (0:2).
Mikel Arteta in just one game, but in the latter for the moment, with Monaco, he moved away from his favored 4-3-3 arrangement, opting for 4-2-3-1. He also tests rookie Timber on the defensive flank, although at Ajax he played center or winger in the top three centre-backs.
We also note that in friendly matches Havertz came out exclusively in midfield and not in the attacking group. This probably suggests that the general idea of the head coach regarding the German is to use Kai’s talent not in someone else’s penalty area, but in the middle line, where he showed his best before moving to Chelsea and in his first time in London. The most expensive rookie Rice was used by the mentor in various midfield positions: both in the support zone next to the Parti and in the three midfielders.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE SUPER BOWL OF ENGLAND?
In recent years, the matches of these two clubs were perceived only as a David and Goliath battle. The Londoners seemed doomed even before the opening whistle. Judge for yourself, since the 2017/18 season, Man City have won 15 of the 16 head-to-head meetings against Arsenal, including the last eight. The total score of these matches is impressive: 42:6.
But times have changed: now Arsenal is ready to become Goliath and no longer admire Manchester’s rival. This implies more attention, pressure and responsibility. Let’s see how Arteta manages in the battle for the first trophy of the English season against the perfect machine to destroy rivals.
And although Arteta, being Pep’s student, knows his rival perfectly, it is Guardiola who can surprise Michel. The fact is that Arsenal never betrays itself and plays according to the 4-3-3 scheme, although samples of a different arrangement in the previous friendly may indicate attempts to find something more suitable for the updated composition of the club. . But Guardiola, almost as often last season, used very different options: 4-3-3 and 3-2-1-4. Will his student be able to “read” the mentor’s intentions? We’ll see soon, it will be a glorious battle.
The match will take place on Sunday at 18:00 Moscow time.
Arsenal: Ramsdale – White, Saliba, Gabriel, Timber – Odegaard, Party, Rice – Saka, Havertz, Martinelli.
Manchester City: Ederson – Walker, Dias, Ake – Stones, Rodri – Silva, De Bruyne, Foden, Grealish – Haaland