I'll preface this by writing that Manuel Pellegrini is a much better manager than yours truly. I'll further write he's the best man for the job. We all know this. And will that stop us from making a few mild suggestions for the starting eleven this weekend?
Of course not.
They've been a bit snippy with each other but Arsene Wenger and Manuel Pellegrini have a good deal in common. Both are known for being level-headed behind the scenes. Both avoid yelling at the players; they're approachable. Both prefer to use comfort as a motivator for performance rather than having a player constantly being worried about their standing. And both have a similar philosophy to the game we all love and adore: attack like hell and when in doubt, attack some more.
In Arsenal's case, their attack is comprised for the most part on quick and shifty midfielders sending through-ball after through-ball to strikers, wingers and anyone else who might fill an open space. The Gunners try to draw the defense forward to help out with the bazillion passes all those quick and shifty mids are making and then send the ball through to open space. When it works, it often seems like the Gunner attackers have a sort of silent communication between each other--guys know where each player is is going to be, seemingly by instinct. It can be beautiful to watch and hell on wheels to defend.
Given that, I think we need a lineup where speed and defense are emphasized.
GK--Joe Hart but he's one mistake a way from being second string for a lot longer than he was last season.
LB--Gael Glichy. One of my favorite players is Aleksander Kolarov. He hasn't seen the pitch all that much this year and he was choice one for most of our two-trophy campaign a season previous. He's got a lot of things to offer but speed is not one of those things, certainly not in comparison to Glichy. Against Arsenal, go with the Frenchman.
CB--Eliaquim Mangala. It's time to test out the newest and perhaps shiniest toy we have. I've written elsewhere that if observers of Portuguese football are correct (I've never seen a match) then Mangala will be one of the best defenders in English football, if not the best, in relatively short time. He is, by all accounts, a first-class athlete and while DeMichelis will never be forgotten for his wonderful contributions in the latter stages of last season, he's not the athlete Mangala is.
RB--Pablo Zabaleta, if sound.
MF--Jesus Navas. A good way to fight Arsenal is with the same fire they're using. Nobody on our team has Navas' speed.
MF--Yaya Toure. I'll just add that last year's MVP has to do something to win the fans back. Rightly or wrongly, no one I know (including yours truly) feels all that warm toward Yaya, particularly after three relatively luke-warm performances.
MF--Fernandinho, and I would've started him regardless of Fernando's health. He's got a step more in the pace department.
MF--James Milner. When he's on, he controls his side of the field, both offensively and defensively. He's not as good as Samir Nasri overall but against Arsenal, I see Milner's physicality and athleticism as the better choice.
MF--David Silva. I'm sure you've noticed that players just don't try to take the ball from David Silva. When he's got and he starts cycling on his right leg, scanning the field to poke yet another perfect pass with his left, defenders will approach him but they won't try for the ball. Those that do usually end up empty handed. The ball at Silva's feet is safe for however long he he has it and we'll need that possession at the Emirates.
ST--Sergio Aguero. Our lone, true striker should be our best one for this match.
How does this look to you? Let me know in the poll and in the comments.