Arsenal face their toughest test of the season so far this month with a trip to the Etihad to face a Manchester City side unbeaten at home before hosting Chelsea at the Emirates but which of their opponents is more of a threat to the Gunners?
Presently Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea sit five points behind the Gunners and level with Liverpool on 30 points with Manuel Pellegrini’s City a point and a place behind them in fourth.
City have as solid a home record as any in the league, having won all of their 7 home matched this season, scoring a sensational 29 goals at the Etihad and conceding just two. However, their away record is much less impressive and in fact is poor given the quality and depth of their squad and resources. City have won just two, drawn two and lost four of their eight away games this term, scoring less than half the number of goals they have at home (12 scored) and conceding more than six time the number of goals they have at home (13 conceded).
Arsenal play City at the Etihad which will likely represent their toughest challenge of the season so far on Saturday – especially after the midweek clash with Napoli – but are the Citizens more of a threat to Arsene Wenger’s title ambitions than the Blues of Chelsea under Mourinho?
Chelsea have so far won just 3 away games, drawn two and lost three with their unbeaten home record still intact with 6 wins and a draw at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have drawn with Manchester United and Tottenham (Arsenal have lost and won against those two, respectively) and they’ve been beaten by Newcastle, Everton and Stoke (Arsenal have yet to play the magpies but have draw with the Toffees and beaten Stoke) as well as both Chelsea and Arsenal drawing with West Brom.
Overall, you’d have to say the Blues are very closely matched with Arsenal at present but the Gunners have been much more consistent, especially against mid-table and bottom-half teams. Arsenal appear more defensively tight and more dangerous in attack too. The question will of course be whether Arsenal can maintain both of those factors until May and whether Chelsea improve in the New Year.
City certainly have a squad more capable than anyone of winning the title – you look at the players they already had and the players they’ve brought in at the Etihad in the summer and they are, for me, certainly the most well-armed club at present but, crucially, they have underperformed and not just once or twice but on several occasions so far this term. Their Jekyll and Hyde form at home and on the road makes them much more vulnerable than Pellegrini would have hoped and with their Champions League qualification likely to pit them against one of the top teams in Europe, you’d have to say they must try harder and do better.
Overall, I think City will present more of a threat to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger than Chelsea will – looking at Mourinho and how his Chelsea team have performed so far, they don’t look like title-winners whatsoever. City, on the other hand, do look like title-winners when they decide to show up – if they progress to produce the kind of performances we saw against Spurs and Manchester United on a regular and consistent basis, they will be the team Arsenal need to hold off but, at present, despite what the pundits say, Arsenal are the biggest threat to both of them without a shadow of a doubt.
image: © Crystian Cruz