The way I see it - Manchester City v Arsenal

Last updated : 11 September 2009 By Jason Hogan
... I've been away from the scene for a while because I had an eye operation which left me with light sensitivity problems so severe, it's only been this week that I have been able to even to go near a computer screen without suffering any reaction. Anyway, enough about that, time to talk football.

Even though the season is in its infancy and in spite of what happened to us at Old Toilet before the international break, I have been pleasantly surprised by how the lads have played so far. On paper, our opening schedule of games, allied to our perennial inactivity in the transfer market, promised to be fairly testing.

Indeed, going into the first two games at Goodison and Parkhead, I had my doubts about the Arsenal. No big doubts but niggling doubts all the same. We went into those fixtures under massive pressure. Failure to do the business in those games would have left us wide open to ridicule and the press and the media, who had already widely written us off before a ball had been kicked this season were poised you can bet with their heavily sharpened knives waiting to plunge and twist them deep into the bowels of the club.

However, we navigated our way through those games in a fashion that was far more convincing than I dared to imagine and, having beaten Celtic at Parkhead, we finished the job at The Grove and qualified as of right for the Champions League group stage.

Of course, even the slightest modicum of success for Arsenal doesn't comes without a degree of controversy, does it? I know the Eduardo thing has been done to death but for what it's worth, I have to say that I do not have any sympathy for the lad in that he got a two-match ban.

When I saw the instant replay of what has become one of the most notorious incidents I can remember, I almost forgot the fact that we were awarded a penalty and I kept thinking to myself that the Crozillian has well and truly stirred up a hornets nest.

The fact that ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley almost set the tone for UEFA's future agenda by spending more time talking about Eduardo's antics than the game itself. Still at least it took his mind off of his favourite subject, that being the events that happened in the Nou Camp in 1999.

Anyway, it isn't the fact that Eduardo has been banned that annoys me; the boy brought what has happened to him all upon himself and saddled the Arsenal, by way of association, with headlines the club simply did not need.

It's the fact that UEFA are well aware that similar offences have been committed (more often than not with impunity) in European games every single week for years - and that is regardless of whether the referee has administered a verdict on a given incident and taken any action or not.

I expect them to be very busy at UEFA from now on. Wenger was right when he said that every incident of this type (and possibly other areas of contention) will be scrutinised and everyone will be going around lodging grievances against individual whether the offenders actions had a direct bearing on the outcome of the game or not.

And as far as I can see, UEFA, in all consciousness, cannot fail to address each and every one of them because if they did, it will only add fuel to Wenger's conspiracy theories amongst other things. I, for one, will be a keen observer of how they deal with the on-field conduct of players from now on, I can tell you.

Now it's time for me to look forward to our trip to Eastlands to face Manchester City.

Well, the press and the media have almost been ablaze all summer with hype about the not-so poor relations of Manchester, haven't they? And unless you have spent the last six months on a sabbatical to Mars, you will all know who they have bought, how much money has been spent and, therefore, why City have been widely tipped to do some great things not only this year but in years to come.

I have to admit that there is a tiny part of me that would love to see City grab a little bit of glory. I don't know why but like Everton, I have a soft spot for them. Even the fact that they are nominally our replacements in the top four place in the eyes of many in the press and the media or that they acquired two of our players in the summer doesn't leave me feeling resentful.

The deals that took Messrs Adebayor and Toure to Eastlands were good deals all round despite the fact that my emotions about the two of them as individuals contrast wildly.

Overall, there are two things that hit me between the eyes on the eve of this match. Firstly, facing our ex-players give this match an extra spiceof course but, more than that, this match has similar connotations to the game we played early on in the season against Tottenham around this time two years ago.

At the time, our poorer relations in North London had been hyped up as being some new phenomenon destined to break into the top four at our direct expense.

The fact that we went to The Shithole and beat them 3-1 was just about the best result the Arsenal got that season bar none. And whatever I or anybody else on the Gooner universe feels now about Adebayor, he was a constant thorn in the side of those bastards, not least on that particular day.

That game was very personal for me as Arsenal fan but whilst the game at Eastlands doesn't quite carry the same level of personal importance as that game did, it is a very important game for us nonetheless.

Whether we Gooners like it or not, the fact is that this is a no-lose situation for City. If they win, the press and the media will hang out the flags and herald some kind of new world order on the way. If they lose, then they will simply suggest that City will need more time to gel.

The assessment will be altogether different for us. If Arsenal win the game, the press and the media will meet it with casual, half hearted babble. If we lose then it will be open season on us both as a team, as a club complete with a whole literal array of I told you so's and denigration.

In other words we go to Eastlands not with numbers on the back of our shirts but whopping great bull's eyes. Believe me, there will be sections of the press sitting in the press boxes with their scripts already pre-written heralding a City win and all the things they believe will come with it in the future.

If I pick up the Sunday papers and see a load of waffle in light of an Arsenal win that would suit me just fine.