This weekend Arsenal travel to Manchester to take on the blue half of the city, in a game which is important to us in terms of remaining in the Top 4, but also for Manchester City it’s a huge game because they currently sit 5 points behind Liverpool, who play on Monday night against West Ham United.
Regarding Arsenal, we currently sit in 4th place on 47 points – equal on goal difference with Chelsea but above them based the greater number of goals scored. A resurgent Manchester United, who have won 8 and drawn 1 of their 9 games under Ole Gunnar Solskjær, are two points behind us in 6th.
We are in the best league position we’ve been in so far under Unai Emery and at this stage of the season crept into the Top 4. With Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur on another level, it is essentially a 3 horse race for that last Champions League spot. So a win after this weeks football would be massive in terms of giving us a chance to finish the season in 4th.
This weekend, Chelsea host Huddersfield Town and Manchester United travel to Leicester, so you would imagine that anything less than 3 points against Manchester City would mean that we drop to 5th or even 6th.
For Manchester City, who sit 5 points behind Liverpool, a win is vital against us as they would put the pressure on the scousers. A win would put them 2 points behind and then all eyes would be on Monday night where the hope would be that Liverpool bottle it (like that have done before) and lose or draw that game.
Now, I would never hope that Arsenal lose a match, that’s obvious. But my question would be should Arsenal play their strongest team?
After the Manchester City match, our Premier League and Europa League fixtures are:
- Huddersfield Town (A)
- BATE Borisov (A)
- BATE Borisov (H)
- Southampton (H)
- AFC Bournemouth (H)
- Tottenham Hotspur (A)
- Manchester United (H)
- Wolverhampton Wanders (A)
- Newcastle United (H)
- Everton (A)
- Watford (A)
- Crystal Palace (H)
- Leicester City (A)
- Brighton & Hove Albion (H)
- Burnley (A)
If you look at the Premier League fixtures, the only fixtures which you would think would be really tough games are the ones against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.
Take those games away and that leaves us with 10 winnable league games.
Consider we have struggled really badly with defensive injuries (do we have a curse?) then you would like to avoid a situation like we did in the FA Cup game against Manchester United where we couldn’t get into the game, were never in a position to win it and ended up hauling off Koscielny and Sokratis with injuries.
So is it worth rotating the squad against Manchester City, ensuring we don’t lose any more defenders or even some of our important attacking players, such as Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ramsey or Özil (hehe).
If it was up to me I would give some of the first team players a rest, especially when they’ve been through a gruelling winter schedule, and then allow them to be fresher for the remaining games in the Premier League and in Europe. This way, we give ourselves the best possible chance to secure a Champions League spot for next season either through the league or the Europa League.
But what do you think? Should Arsenal go all out against Manchester City? Or should they be conservative, rest some of their first team players and then just see what happens?
Cast your vote below and leave your thoughts in the comments section!