Arsenal Well Placed to End Big Six Hoodoo Against Manchester City

14 October 2020 09:15

Arsene Wenger took his Arsenal side to the Etihad Stadium in January 2015 and fooled all but himself with a reserved and pragmatic approach to the game.

Goals from Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud secured a well deserved 2-0 win, using tactics few had seen the Gunners utilise under the Frenchman.

Since then, Arsenal have played against 'big six' opposition away from home in the Premier League 26 times.

Their record reads: zero wins, ten draws, 16 losses.

70 months have passed since Arsenal won an away league fixture against one of either Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool or Tottenham. Seventy months.

It's laughable, if anything. Even Bournemouth managed to win away against one of the above last season. Quite atrocious for a club that are actually part of this 'big six' themselves.

Wenger was the last Arsenal manager to win away at a big six side.in 2015 | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

So, how do they change it? Well, going out and buying players to solve their central defensive issues and midfield concerns respectively goes some way. As does tying down your club captain for the long term. Those departments have been seen to effectively.

That alone, however, won't help you beat City. If you want to topple this side, you have get at them. And pick your spots wisely.

For all their offensive opulence, City's endless spending on central defenders has proved unfruitful. Damn expensive fruit, at that.

Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake are the most recent editions on the continuous transfer conveyor belt, but the latter has already been found guilty of errors in the recent Leicester defeat, while the former has just 90 minutes of Premier League football to his name.

In other words, City are there to be exploited - specifically on the left hand side. Still without Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling has operated down the middle in recent matches, with Riyad Mahrez on the left wing.

Dias arrived for big money fro Benfica | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Both are exceptional players, but neither are know for fulfilling their defensive duties. This is to Arsenal's gain, since Benjamin Mendy is an almost weekly source of calamity. His one-on-one defending is poor, his discipline is questionable, while he also loses his focus for switches of play and diagonal balls.

With the 3-4-3 setup Arteta employs, it encourages Hector Bellerin to tuck inside and attack the channels, where he's looked more comfortable than.possibly ever, in his Arsenal career. His quality on the ball has improved and he's less burdened with repetitive overlaps where his delivery lets him, and the rest of the team, down. Mendy is there for the taking on Saturday.

Of course, this all comes with the caveat of sounding like a broken record. How many times - if not every time - have Arsenal been backed to end their horrendous away record? Barring trips to Anfield, a fair few times in the last five and a half years.

Does this occasion feel any more different? It does, yes, but it helps having a world class midfielder join the club on deadline day. What Thomas Partey will offer going forward, but firstly at the Etihad, is the ability to break through the press.

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