Revealed: Key personnel at City & Arsenal expose their own weaknesses

Olivier Giroud 3

Manchester City and Arsenal both have to endure arduous fixtures throughout February so the timing of their players statements is baffling.

As Manchester City begin a schedule that will test their capabilities, with a trip to Tottenham Hotspur, two encounters with Chelsea and a European clash with Barcelona all within the next three weeks, captain Vincent Kompany has underlined the club's greatest weaknesses.

Manuel Pellegrini's men have been a marvel this season, returning four or more goals from a single game on 13 different occasions, yet Kompany has effectively explained to future opponents how they can be beaten - deny them the ball.

This is easier said than done as the Etihad Stadium side have one of the best possession statistics in the Premier League and, when they don't have the ball they work particularly hard in retrieving it, however, by dedicating so many players to attack there is an abandonment of defensive responsibility, as Kompany alludes to.

ClubPossessionGames
Swansea City 59.22 23
Southampton 57.00 23
Manchester City 56.14 22
Arsenal 55.78 23
Everton 55.35 23

'We play with two strikers and two wingers who are virtually strikers and one of our two midfield players [Yaya Toure] is also virtually a striker,' the imposing Belgium international reportedly said as per the Daily Mail. 'Our full-backs are pushing up all the time, so ultimately out of a team of 11 players we have six or seven who are always involved in the attack and it just means that there is a lot of ground to cover when you lose the ball.'

Out of all four teams currently positioned inside the top four, it is City who are most frequently dispossessed per game on average, a byproduct of Pellegrini's utilisation of such an attack-happy tactic.

ClubDispossessedGames
Manchester City 11.23 22
Liverpool 11.04 23
Chelsea 9.86 22
Arsenal 9.52 23

Their results against the elite thus far this season suggest it has not exactly been a problem, after all, City have scalped Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Manchester United already this season, but with a tricky February approaching, could their title tilt come unstuck should they persist with the same approach each match?

'It’s a risk,' Kompany conceded, 'but it’s a style of playing that suits us at the moment.'

He added: 'Complacency is our biggest enemy, it’s very simple. We have six or seven players thinking offensive, and that just means we have to be super aggressive to recover the ball quickly.

'When we don’t have the ball, ultimately we’re not as good,' he concluded.

Highlighting your flaws in the public domain appears to be the zeitgeist as Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has admitted that the source of Southampton's success over the Gunners last night, Tuesday, a game in which Arsenal came back from a goal down only to tie the game 2-2, was because they were battling against a relentless work ethic from Mauricio Pochettino's Saints.

He said, as quoted by the club's official website: 'We had some trouble in the first half to play our game, maybe because Southampton closed us down really well.'

Giroud went on to say that 'the Championship [race] is not finished'… no, it is tight and hotting up with each passing match-day, but as we move closer toward the business end of the season we may find results come down to the slimmest of margins.

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Whichever side can counteract opponents attempting to take advantage of those frailties most successfully may ultimately end up taking the lead.

City take on Tottenham this evening prior to a marquee Monday night match-up versus Chelsea. Arsenal, meanwhile, host Crystal Palace on Sunday before a trip to Anfield on Saturday week and a Manchester United clash at the Emirates on Wednesday, February 12.

image: © wonker

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