Although, quite rightly, one could say that Arsenal and City are diametrically opposed, I felt a strange sense of symmetry yesterday. The draw was (just about) a fair result, and - sad to say - exactly the outcome I was expecting. Despite taking until the 82nd minute, I felt it was inevitable that they would equalise, just as I was sure that the Rags would (cheat and...) turn over Liverpool. The Gooners are continuing their always commendable rehabilitation and gradually gelling into a team which will be among the top 5 come May. I said this before the season started, and I have no reason to change my view now. With a relatively comfortable group in the Champions League, they will take morale boosts from their efforts there, and should make short work of the lesser teams in the Premier. Spurs hold no fear for them, and games against the Rags and Chelsea will make all the difference to the finishing line-up.
City are in some ways at the other end of the spectrum, having spent zillions (largely on Arsenal players, of course) though give the same impression of a team in transition. Some of the summer signings are looking questionable at the moment, I have to say, while a few of the regulars are really struggling to play as we know they can. However, I reckon there were more positives than negatives coming out of Sunday's clash: Dzeko looks a better player than before, and was unlucky not to score; Hart is in fine form; Yaya is just stunning, and looks leaner than last season, without losing any of his awesome power. Tevez aside (he's not short of commitment, but seems lacking a goal threat) the worries are (as ever) at the back for us, where we combine the casual and the kamikaze with alarming frequency. Still, it makes for some exciting football, and I have always said that this is what matters. If I were to choose an ideal starting XI, as the team stands now, for a top Premier League match, it would be as follows:
Not wishing to jinx anything, and the Capital One Cup really is not any sort of priority, but I think that we'll pick up some goals and some confidence when we play Villa. Hard to believe, but they look worse than last season, and whichever team Bobby decides to field against them shouldn't find it too much of a challenge to overcome. My prediction: 3-0 or 4-1 City.