Arsène Wenger

Manchester City have narrow advantage over Chelsea

Arsene Wenger

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I would give a small advantage to Manchester City for Monday’s game against Chelsea, because they will play at home and have been almost unbeatable there since the beginning of the season.

And it’s going to be a great tactical battle: Jose Mourinho will try to defend extremely well, and counter-attack. And Manchester City will try to put Chelsea’s defence under pressure and score goal after goal.

It’s going to be a game that everybody will want to see. I believe that there is a small psychological advantage for Manchester City right now: they had a convincing win against Tottenham and Chelsea were quite disappointed by their game against West Ham. But Chelsea have always managed to turn up during the big matches.

City have been quite amazing this season. They have exceptional firepower. They are not unbeatable, but they found their rhythm and will be hard to perturb.

The other thing counting against them is the injury to Sergio Aguero, who is a decisive player during the big matches. I love watching him play, I love his attitude, he never complains, his behaviour is flawless.

Let’s not be hypocritical – when he is injured it benefits Arsenal as there is one less competitor available. But as a football fan I am sorry for him as it’s a treat to see him play.

Still, City won’t miss him too much – when you have Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic it softens the blow.

While City are clearly in brilliant form teams are crowned in May, not January. Football is based on human beings. It’s fragile, and things that seemed invulnerable in January often aren’t in May.

So let’s hope for a bit of that, but mostly count on ourselves, count on our own performances. And hope that, at some point, we will be able to gain some advantages again.

City and Chelsea are our main competition. It seems that they are the most consistent three teams. Manchester United are far back, but I think that they can make a lot of teams suffer before the end of the season.

We’re still not sure about Liverpool. Their advantage is to have a great offensive potential too. But they are still some way behind three teams. If there was only one team to overhaul, you could say they might come back. With three teams, it’s already much harder, because you have to take points back from all three. And all three of them must stumble.

Let’s not forget that Chelsea won the Europa League and finished third in the championship last year with Rafa Benitez. So they didn’t start from nothing, and Benitez arrived in the middle of the season anyway. And I don’t think he was given the respect he deserved. It’s a shame because he did a wonderful job in a very difficult context, in my opinion.

But Jose Mourinho has obviously had an impact, even if they weren’t exactly ‘nothing’ when he returned. He has added his skills and his personality.

But if I say I can see Chelsea winning this year, I might as well cut my head off. So let’s say that I see Chelsea as one of the main competition to Arsenal this year.

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