London Clubs Test Manchester Team’s Title Resolve 


The two Manchester teams, City and United have never hidden their Premier League title ambition and the fact that both teams are placed first and second on the table is a testimony to it. However, their resolve would be tested tomorrow by the two most successful London clubs-Arsenal and Chelsea. While the Blues have suffered dip in form-losing 3-0 to Roma mid-week in the Champions League, Arsene Wenger rested his best legs in Thursday’s Europa encounter ahead of the visit to the Etihad. Though the league is just 11 weeks old, Sunday’s result would go a long way in defining their season

Chelsea and Manchester United go head to head this weekend in a match neither club dare lose as Manchester City entertain Arsenal eyeing a chance to stretch their lead at the top of the Premier League. Pep Guardiola’s unbeaten City are smashing records with impunity and are already five points clear of Jose Mourinho’s United after nine wins in 10 games.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has however said his team will not adopt a defensive approach on Sunday. Arsenal’s three league defeats this season have come on the road but Wenger is adamant his side will play to their strengths and not risk defending deep against a top attacking unit at the Etihad Stadium.

“We’ll of course try to play our game. We’ll not hide. When we go there, we’ll want to defend well. But we cannot go there and be focused on only defending. We want as well to play and have the ball and create dangerous situations. The best way to defend sometimes is to attack,” Wenger told reporters

City’s fluid attacking style of play is already drawing comparisons to Wenger’s 2003-04 ‘Invincibles’ squad, who lifted the title without losing a single league game in the season.

Wenger, however, reckons it is too early into the season to assess a team and pointed to Real Madrid’s 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League this week as an example of a sudden shift in momentum.

“It’s only 10 games played, it’s 28 to go. That’s quite a long way. They (City) are going through a good patch. If you look at what has been said about Real Madrid three weeks ago, it shows you how fragile everything is in the game,” he added.

However, Sergio Aguero, who this week became Manchester City’s all-time record goalscorer with 178 strikes, would be the stand-out star at many Premier League clubs. But it is a measure of the attacking riches at Guardiola’s disposal that he has to share star billing with a host of other quicksilver forwards.

Aguero is some way down the goalscoring charts, at 12th on the Premier League list, well behind Alan Shearer at the top on 260 goals. But it is his strike rate that catches the eye. The Argentine, who arrived at City from Atletico Madrid in 2011, averages 0.69 goals per match, well ahead of Shearer (0.59) and just ahead of Arsenal legend Thierry Henry (0.68).

“What he has achieved has made him a legend. He’s gone down in history, so I would tell him to enjoy,” said Guardiola.

Meanwhile, Chelsea would try to rediscover their hunger against United.

Chelsea turned last season’s Premier League race into a procession but it’s been a different story this time around, with three defeats already – they only lost five matches in the whole of last season.

Manager Antonio Conte criticised his side after they crashed 3-0 in Rome this week, saying they “lacked everything”, though they are still likely to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages.

Chelsea are already nine points behind leaders Manchester City and defeat against United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday would leave them with an impossible-looking task.

“We must find the hunger we showed all of last season, and sometimes this season. But this season has been up and down. We need to find consistency,” said Conte.

Manchester United boss, Jose Mourinho was lambasted for his cautious tactics in a 0-0 bore draw at Anfield last month, with critics saying he had missed a trick by failing to test Liverpool’s suspect defence.

Since then they have laboured to a couple of wins against Benfica in the Champions League and beaten Spurs 1-0 on home turf in the Premier League, as well as losing to Huddersfield.

Ex-Chelsea boss Mourinho, who held a finger to his lips and told the doubters to calm down after his side beat Spurs last weekend, is unlikely to be persuaded to depart from his pragmatic game plan against Chelsea even though Conte’s men are coming into the match on the back of a poor defensive display against Roma.

Elsewhere, Tottenham will look to build on their impressive 3-1 win against European champions Real Madrid in midweek and Liverpool will attempt to stay on the coattails of the Premier League pacesetters at West Ham.

Managerless Everton, who host Watford at home on Sunday, are in free-fall and must find a way to arrest their slide. The Merseyside club, who boast a proud record of being ever-present in the English top-flight since 1954, find themselves in the relegation zone with only two Premier League wins.

Caretaker boss, David Unsworth, in charge since Ronald Koeman was sacked, has pleaded for the new manager to be given time to turn things around.

“Whoever gets the honour of being Everton boss, including me, needs time with this set of players,” he said.