A very entertaining final group stage Champions League round has made way for the domestic leagues. All four Premier League teams have qualified for the knockout stages which makes for a very exciting round of 16. Arsenal have taken the particularly exciting route, and we will soon find out which poison will be bestowed upon them! Now back to matchday predictions for the EPL.
A recap of last matchday’s action is on our latest CoshCast which you can enjoy on Soundcloud or subscribe through iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/under-the-cosh-coshcast/id767743946
Previous Matchday Scores:
Here’s a reminder of last week’s scores and the overall points tally for the three of us so far. It was a very low scoring week due to a slew of upsets; namely City’s Draw and Chelsea and Man Utd’s (partially) shocking Losses:
If it wasn’t apparent already, Bernie is the owner of a crystal sphere that gives away at least one match day result to him every week. The rest of us will be happy to get our hands on it, particularly Rishay.
Saturday December 14th:
*Game of the week: City vs Arsenal*
Two teams fighting for the title this season come face to face at the Etihad on Saturday morning. City need a win to close the gap on league leading Arsenal while the Gunners need to retain their momentum after Everton came back at the Emirates with a last gasp winner. A win for City would show that their on paper strength isn’t just a perception while Arsenal need to prove doubters wrong with at least a point. Both teams are at their best when they attack and play positively so we are in for an entertaining game!
ManCity vs Arsenal:
Bernie: City are the best team at home in the league for me. At the Emirates they are the perfect mix of flair and grit. If only they could replicate their home on their travels. Arsenal are the league leaders and it’s in games like these where Champions are made. If they can shake off the loss to Napoli then they should be ok. I’m not sure if they can overcome Aguero and co. 2-1 city
Mohaned: This is a tough one to call! I think City are outright scary at home with a lethal attack force. Arsenal have been in good form but have dipped lately against Everton and Napoli. If Aguero and Negredo click together, there is nothing most defenses in the league can do about it. With Yaya Toure and Silva behind them, like i said, its just scary. Ill be hoping arsenal can play a smart measured game and come away with a valuable away point. 1-1 draw.
Rishay: Arsenal coming off a particularly profligate performance in Naples, and are probably exhausted after coming out of such a tight group in the CL, albeit slightly wounded. City are coming off a sensational win away in Munich, against all odds, even confusing their own manager who couldn’t do simple math at the end of the game. Amazing scenes all round.We can consider this fixture one with two of Europe’s elite clubs doing battle in their domestic league. I’ll fancy City here, because they will have more confidence. 2-1 City.
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace:
Bernie: It seems that every time I go for an easy Chelsea win their defense lets me down. Terry is past it, Cahill isn’t Chelsea quality and Luiz is error prone. That being said Palace won’t score at Stamford Bridge. Might be a good game for Chelsea strikers to gain some confidence. I doubt it though. 2-0 Chelsea.
Mohaned: Chelsea finally kept a clean sheet, albeit in the champions league. They will hope that continues into the premier league. Their defensive record has been woeful of late but i don’t see Crystal Palace resuming that trend. Sure, Chamakh has scored two games running but his goal scoring bonanza will truly come to a halt against Chelsea. I feel Chelsea wont impress greatly but will come away with a comfortable 3 points. 2-0 Chelsea.
Rishay: The Blues have been unimpressive lately, conceding 6 goals in their last 2 league encounters against teams in the bottom half of the table. The visit of Crystal Palace should be a formality for them, although Palace have been improving lately, with Chamakh getting himself on the scoresheet to the disdain of Arsenal fans. Mourinho should give his players a verbal volley and the home crowd at Stamford Bridge should come to their assistance. 2-0 Chelsea.
Sunday December 15th:
AstonVilla vs ManUtd:
Bernie: United go into this game low on confidence after two straight home league defeats. The squad may not be good enough but grit and determination are needed. This Villa team aren’t that bad as Arsenal witnessed on opening day. This is as vital as the game United won against Arsenal so I think United will play badly against a Villa team who will be very plucky and determined but moyes will get his win. 1-0 United
Mohaned: United come off two losses in a row in the league. To be fair, both teams they lost to were challenging opponents in Everton and Newcastle. I think Aston Villa will be a step down. ManUtd need to translate their champions league performances into the premier league. Villa’s main strength is their speedy attack force in Benteke and Abgonlahor. Will they have enough to bother ManUtd? Ill go with a 2-1 United win, with RVP and Rooney back playing together.
Rishay: United are shaky and the empire has been rattled to its very foundations. Villa will consider themselves favourites for this one because at the moment, everybody fancies themselves against United. Phil Jones is back, but United have not controlled games for some time, and had to rely on yet another set piece against Shaktar in midweek. How did they beat Bayer Leverkusen 5-0 in Germany?! I sincerely hope I do not see Moyes play a 4-4-2, or I will pull all of my hair out and burn it. 1-0 United.
Tottenham vs Liverpool:
Bernie: If not for Arsenal vs City this would be the game of the week. Tottenham flatter to deceive and Liverpool are one Suarez injury away from undoing all their hard work. Spurs will dig in here, they are starting to make a little bit of progress. Their defenders need to be on their game because Suarez is the most dangerous player in the league. With Gerrard sidelined a little bit of quality in the engine room is missing. Might be a good time to pick a 1-1 draw.
Mohaned: Another tough one to call. Gerrard will miss this one for the reds which will be a major factor. I feel the Sturridge, Suarez, and Coutinho trio will be too much for Tottenham’s shaky defense. In attack, Spurs have not impressed either with very labored and slow build up play. Being home might help them get something from this game but i see a Liverpool win here. 3-1 Liverpool.
Rishay: This one will be as exciting to watch as the City-Arsenal game. Spurs have me under the impression that they are finding some form, but then again, Suarez and Liverpool are also in quite some form themselves! This is a tight one to call, but I think Liverpool will just edge this one, given that they will be more well rested than their Spurs counterparts who had a Thursday night Europa League clash with Anzhi. 2-1 Liverpool.
Tottenham vs Liverpool: 2-1
ManCity vs Arsenal: 1-1
AstonVilla vs ManUtd: 0-3
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace: 4-1
ManCity vs. Arsenal: 1-2
Cheslea vs. Crystal Palace: 3-0
Aston Villa vs. Man U: 1-2
Spurs vs. Liverpool: 1-1
Tottenham vs Liverpool: 2-1
ManCity vs Arsenal: 2-1
AstonVilla vs ManUtd: 1-1
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace: 2-0
Tottenham vs. Liverpool: 2-2 Interesting battle. Tottenham at home will play better but wont be able to hold off Suarez.
Man City vs. Arsenal: 2-1. One of the games that could decide the title. Man City at home too good for anyone. Very tough schedule sees Arsenal barely lose.
Aston Villa vs. Man U: 2-3. Man United get back on track with win against decent Aston Villa side. Benteke will score 2 against fragile Man U backline. Rooney will have his best game of the year.
Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace: 3=2-0. Chelsea too much for Tony Pulis’ Crystal Palace, breaking through congested banks of 8 defenders in the last 20 minutes. Chelsea are better at home and wont concede to Chamakh.
Tottenham vs Liverpool: 2-1
ManCity vs Arsenal: 0-1
AstonVilla vs ManUtd: 2-1
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace: 3-0
Tottenham vs. Liverpool: 2-2
ManCity vs. Arsenal: 3-2
Aston Villa vs. Man U.: 1-2
Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace: 3-1
Tottenham vs. Liverpool: 2-2
ManCity vs. Arsenal: 2-1
Aston Villa vs. Man U.: 1-1
Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace: 3-1
Tottenham vs Liverpool 2-2
Man City vs Arsenal 3-0
Aston Villa vs Man U. 0-2
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace 3-0
Just watched the Arsenal Game; what an amazing game by entertainment standards and great for football in general. I’m going to analyze it by 3 points; mentality, individual play and strategy.
-Both Arsenal and Man City came into the game sharp and ready to play. Both have great mentalities going forward however the lack of concentration on team defence, most notably Silva’s goal (Mertersacker and Vermaelen standing 2 feet apart from him but not close enough to close him down) and Mertersackers goal (Sagna afforded much to much space by Man City)
-This game showed outstanding quality by quite a few players but I will point out the key performers in both.
Giroud- I love Giroud, always running and fills so many roles for Arsenal. However, in the clutch part of the game, down 2-1, in about the 50-60 minutes, he had 3 major chances that he missed. He really needed to bury one of those or make a great pass and just ran out of steam. Definitely tiredness has something to do with it but he is not on the class of an Aguero or Suarez in terms of pure finishing ability. Still love his contribution though.
Walcott- Phenomenal game due to his off the ball running and his BRILLIANT two finishes. Much better than Cazorla in the side who has been played out of position and has been ineffective this year.
Ozil- Showed class for the pass from Walcott but was invisible for most of the rest of the game. Why? His languid mentality saw him make very few runs off the ball and is just NOT a threat on his right foot or in shooting. They both need to improve for him to be world class.
Mertersacker- Immense game by the captain, he was outstanding, making several amazing last-ditch tackles to save them from conceding more.
Fernandinho- Easily the man of the match for his defensive play. He cut out at least major passes and had several interceptions and his running was vital for Man City. His two goals just were the icing on the cake, but brilliant finishes as well. His best game of the campaign by far.
Kompany- Oh what a difference this man makes. His sheer presence and passion ignites this otherwise put together mercenary side. Great defensive playing.
-I think Arsenal approached the game well but for me the turning point was taking off the holding player in Flamini and putting on a wide player in Gnabry.
This did not help retain possession and led to the 3 next Man City goals. An 18 year old wide player was not what they needed and really exposed them in the center.
Rosicky would have been perfect. An outlet in the center, strong in the tackle, passionate and would have helped distribute the ball with pace.
Man this is great detailed stuff.
I feel Arsenal were nervous again. Wenger for me still hasn’t addressed the “mental” side of the game. I might be wrong but that’s fine. In the opening 15 minutes Arsenal were simply overawed by the occasion.
Secondly, maybe it’s a case of tiredness but Arsenal for me were so sloppy in possession. They were pressured into losing it a lot but you’d think that they would have the ability to hold on to the ball with the quality they have.
The key to City’s attack is their off the ball movement. It’s simply fantastic and I was astounded by what I saw.
You’re spot on about Fernandinho. He’s usually much deeper for Yaya to burst but he really had a strangle hold on the arsenal midfield. With him marauding forward and picking off passes in an all action performance, Wilshere and Flamini never stood a chance.
Good effort Arsenal but they need to take the bull by the horns in games of this magnitude or they’ll bottle it again. Long way to go.
Cant disagree with any of this. Great analysis.
I felt gnabry was very useful but shouldve come on for wilshere instead of flamini.
Also in hindsight i wouldve loved to see the more tactical arteta than the proactive flamini in a game like this if not both.
Giroud can be so wasteful and tes that header he shouldve burried and the other one he shouldve pulled across goal for an easy tap in. He also had a goal disallowed wrongly i think.
City were brilliant in thier build up. Silva and yaya given too much space. Zabaleta for me is a beast. Love him to bits. Great energy leveks very comfortable on the ball for a rb. He was instrumental
Superb game analysis!
For me, the game was there for the taking for both sides until the final half hour, where City proved to be more fresh than Arsenal. If Arsenal fans have anything to feel aggrieved about, it should be their squad depth. Both these sides had intense Champions League fixtures in midweek, and City with their superior squad were able to rest some key players and STILL come away with a comeback win at Bayern! Of course, City also had an extra day’s rest on top of this, which could explain why Arsenal were a step behind the Citizens as the game wore on.
For me, I agree that Rosicky should have come on instead of Gnabry, at least in a game of this magnitude he would have had more experience and been more effective in the middle of the park. Perhaps the absence of Arteta also had an impact?
With that being said, Arsenal have done well to carry on till the end and get a consolation goal, because scoring at the Etihad as the away team has been a rarity this season, and Arsenal have managed 3 in one game. In 8 home games, City have scored 35 and conceded 5, and the Etihad is easily the fortress of the season so far.
All said and done, superb attacking display, and great banter boys! Keep it up