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Ahead of Arsenal's match with Manchester City tomorrow, we exchanged some questions and answers with SBNation's City blog, Bitter and Blue. Danny Pugsley was kind enough to take the time to answer our questions about City's performance so far this year. Come with us after the jump to see what Danny had to say!
City's uncharacteristically allowed six goals allowed in four league matches Understanding they were facing a potent Madrid side, but they allowed another three in that to push their season total to nine. So, who's ultimately responsible for their defensive breakdowns thus far in the season?
The Real game aside they haven't allowed many shots on goal, and even less on target so which has meant Joe Hart's save % has been amongst the lowest in the league - a complete reversal of last season. This won't continue and will correct itself in time, but that is not to say there are not concerns and it is the partnership between Vincent Kompany (in particular) and Joleon Lescott that has been a surprise as the errors they are making uncharacteristic errors which are hurting the side and leading directly to goals.
How do you feel about Mancini's decision to try three at the back in recent matches? Is this a move you see working out in the long-term, or are you concerned about it?
I'm not concerned about it as I don't know how big a change it will be for two reasons. One, I don't see it being deployed as much as people are anticipating and my thoughts are it is more a likely Plan B to be used mid-game than something to start a game with. Secondly, the idea behind the three centre halves is for the full-backs to have a more attacking, forward lying role but if you look closely at city's attacking forays (which I have done) their use of full backs further forward is something that is already utilised to a large degree anyway.
Regarding Sergio Aguero's recent, and refreshingly honest, comments about his preference to initially join Madrid over City, do you see this becoming a larger story than it should be, or do you believe these could possibly be undertones hinting at a personal dissatisfaction?
What has happened with his comments is that they have been construed as him being unhappy and wanting to join Real, whereas what he said as that at the time of joining City his preference would have been Real. This is no great surprise given he is South American (with a more natural affinity for La Liga), lived in Madrid already and lets face it, they are one of, if not the, most prestiguous club side. He did subsequently add that he is completely happy at City and the decision he made, something I think shows in his approach. On the whole a non-issue for me and it will blow over fairly quickly.
What if anything was the fallout of the recent Joe Hart/Mancini squabble? Does Mancini go the Ferguson route about disciplining players that speak out or is he more hands-off about his players' interactions with the media?
I don't think so. Hart's comments were understandable and did come within minutes of the final whistle so Mancini's response was a harsh. However, he does have an impetuous streak to him (dating back to his early playing career) which does manifest itself from time to time in situations like this where he looks to assert his authority over the side. Again, I don't see this boiling over to be an issue and I'm sure it would have been discussed and resolved by now anyway.
And finally, how do you see Sunday's match playing out?
Games of late have been fairly tight (certainly in terms of scoreline at east) between the two sides but I have a feeling that it will be an open game on Sunday. Yes, Arsenal's defence has been solid so far this season but City's attack - with the possibility of Aguero's return - is very potent, but Arsenal too have looked capable in attack this season. Based on his brief career to date, you have to say that City will need to focus heavily on Santi Cazorla and it may be that Mancini opts for both Gareth Barry and Javi Garcia (particularly with Nasri ruled out as this would mean a straight swap with Aguero coming in) to try and counter his threat. City's home form dating back to last season is very, very good however and I think City will have enough to take it 2-1, possibly with a late goal to win it.
Thanks very much, Danny!