Chelsea are staring the Championship in the face and Mourinho is gone. Manchester United are pedestrian and impotent. The real threat to Arsenal and City turns out to be Leicester, flying on ahead. Pellegrini and Wenger will both see this as a fixture in which they can argue their title credentials, but neither have been in title winning form. Arsenal’s injuries continue to bite hard, although the return of players like Ramsey will help no end. Manchester City haven’t scored an away goal in the league since September, a statistic that desperately needs rectifying if the Blues are to lift the trophy come the end of the season.
Only Leicester and Watford are in better form than Arsenal right now, but it still feels as if the Gunners are liable to stumble. Too many injuries will eventually catch up with them, especially if they have to overplay the players who can actually stay fit. Koscielny is possibly the best central defender in the league, but he’s under less protection that he has enjoyed behind Coquelin. City will look to expose Koscielny’s defensive partner whenever they can, since the stats seem to argue that when Koscielny plays well, the Gunners win games.
The African Footballer of the Year saved City’s bacon against Swansea, earning himself MotM with a brilliant performance to get all 3 points. At times over the past couple of years it seemed as if Touré was a spent force—the feeling being that he no longer possessed the legs to play as part of a midfield two. And yet time and time again, the Ivorian has won games for City, turning results on their head and winning trophies along with it. A good pick against Arsenal’s depleted midfield.
Fellow Ivorian Bony hasn’t been able to pin down a starting position in Pellegrini’s side. Admittedly without Silva and Aguero’s creativity and pace, Bony has had to work harder for less reward. But with the Argentine goal-machine still struggling with fitness and repeated injuries, City fans need the ex-Swansea striker to start notching more regularly. With 3 goals in 8 starts there are signs that Bony can be the lone striker, but 19 year old Kelechi Iheanacho has almost as many and appears to have the manager’s trust.
Just when his team needs him most, Ramsey roars back into life and puts in three superb performances against Sunderland, Olympiacos and Aston Villa. The Welshman has two goals and two assists in his last three games—and against a leaky Manchester City defence, Ramsey is a good shout to score again. Ramsey has had an excellent time with Wales in qualifying for the European Championships. Can he enjoy some success with the Gunners this season too?