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Manchester City vs Arsenal | Premier League & FA Cup champions collide in the first competitive fixture of the season. Both sides have less that full strength squads but both have questions to be answered. Sami Faizullah has a look at what Manchester City need to deal with.


How will Manchester City fare in a test of their defensive depth?

Having a large squad filled with experienced and impressive players is meant to provide a solution should a side face major injury concerns. Though the luck of one with injuries is hard to predict, and even given the number of games Manchester City will face, it’s unlikely that all of Sagna, Zabaleta, Kompany & Demichelis will be unavailable for selection simultaneously at any point of the season. Nevertheless, the foursome won’t feature at Wembley and this proves to be an opportunity for Pellegrini to truly test the depth of his side in the defensive position.

Karim Rekik who spent last season on loan at PSV Eindhoven is a personal favourite option, while Matija Nastasic is one who is assured a place in his bid to challenge for a first-team spot. Dedryck Boyata poses as the other individual available for Pellegrini, with memories of his awful FA Cup display against Blackburn still afresh.

Pellegrini Jovetic Manchester City 2014-15

Although the City side have numbers to cover up for the absence of the first-team regulars, the quality is evidently lacking. Nastasic has potential when fit, but he doesn’t inspire confidence; Rekik still isn’t seen as one capable of the first-team, while many are surprised how Boyata is still in the squad. Added to the inconsistency of Demichelis, one really has to complement Kompany for pulling this side through.

A Nastasic-Rekik combo seems likely, and the two should be ready to step in and provide cover for advancing full-backs with a potentially pacy Arsenal wing display. Their abilities and their claims in the side will truly be put to the test, and personally it will depend on just how short they may be at the back and vulnerable to counters. With a lone striker system from Arsenal, they should manage to decently deal in the centre, it’s that wider positions where the full-backs become crucial.

Will Stevan Jovetic finally show his capabilities?

Ask any Serie A follower (or a hipster for that matter!) and they’d sing praises of Jovetic at Fiorentina. It hasn’t quite been as smooth sailing for the Montenegrin at the defending Premier League champions with both form and (more importantly) injuries taking a toll on him. A return of a goal every three games is far from the player we were accustomed to in Italy, but now heading into his second season and one that usually sees the best out of the new signing of the previous campaign, Jovetic has the chance to impress.

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With both Sergio Aguero & Alvaro Negredo absent from the game, Manuel Pellegrini has the opportunity to trust Stevan Jovetic in the first-team squad with Edin Dzeko expected to play alongside/ahead of him. Jovetic isn’t the most fluid number 10 to have in the side but on he does have the ability to link up and combine with the other three attacking players in a 4-2-3-1 approach, acting as the central combining option in the final third.

Balls will regular be fed into Dzeko’s path, while Arsenal’s midfielders will be more pre-occupied with dealing with their immediate counter-parts, it leaves Jovetic with a temptingly free scenario, with time and space being offered along with the option of unmarked runs.

The match poses as an opportunity for Jovetic to prove his worth to Pellegrini, as on paper he offers a better option of dropping deeper in attack than the other three. In a general sense, he has a long way to convince the manager of a more prominent first-team role.

Can Manchester City take advantage of a potentially ‘inexperienced’ right side of Arsenal?

Having sold Bacary Sagna to Sunday’s opponents, Mathieu Debuchy will make his first competitive appearance for the Gunners. A sale that was concluded in the last few hours sees Thomas Vermealen depart as well, while Per Mertesacker (one of three German World Cup winning stars at Arsenal), won’t feature in the Community Shield. Early whispers suggest that another new signing, Calum Chambers will also be handed his debut in a rather unfamiliar central defensive role.

Taking nothing away from the quality of Debuchy & Chambers and their careers thus far, this is the first game at the highest level for both the individuals in domestic English football. Not only do they have to deal with the occasion (despite it being ‘just’ the Community Shield), but also test themselves in their new systems, team and role (in the case of Chambers, albeit temporarily).

This poses as the perfect outlet for Manchester City to exploit. Aleksandar Kolarov is presently one of the most exceptional attacking left-backs in the league, with his deadly crosses a regular feature. Debuchy dealing with him in an attempt to keep him under control from providing width and those crosses will be vital, while Chambers will have to deal with potential runs into the channel.

And that’s just the full-back, with David Silva possibly starting on that side, Debuchy & Chambers will be given a proper welcome into life at the top. How they combine and co-ordinate is crucial, both for the result on the day and their confidence going into the new season. Keeping the likes of Kolarov & Silva quiet would be commended at their previous club(s), it will be expected now by Wenger at Arsenal.

The game may just be a curtain raiser of sorts, and the result not as relevant. Though it is more silverware to take, none of the last three winners have gone on to win the league. The game though, is the first competitive one of the season. It isn’t just about fitness levels and game time, but the first chance the management has at seeing the tactical co-ordination developed as well. Statements have to be made from managers on the rest of the league, and new players on the rest of the squad. Won’t build it up as a match to savour, but certainly one to be excited about.

Written by Sami Faizullah. Chief Editor of this website. Follow him on Twitter @SamiFaizullah


Give a read to all the pieces in our Manchester City blog The Invisible Men. What do you think of Manchester City’s chances against Arsenal. Let us know with a comment below.

Sami Faizullah

Sami Faizullah

Co-founder and Chief Editor here. Obsessed with tactics. Keen follower of young players. Creator of #TalentRadar.
Sami Faizullah

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