Arsenal play Man City tomorrow morning and I’m going to get to the preview, but first…
Someone asked what the best zodiac sign is for strikers and based on my research I can say definitively: in the Premier League it is Leo. Harry Kane is a Leo. Thierry Henry, Leo. Alan Shearer, Leo. Robin van Persie, Leo. Kevin Phillips, Leo.
My mention of Kevin Phillips should be a clue about how I came to this conclusion. I looked at the Premier League Golden Boot winners and matched their astrological signs. Turns out that Leos have won the Golden Boot 11 times since 1992 and there have been five different Leos who won the Golden Boot. That’s more than any other sign.
Aquarius (Ronaldo, Berbatov, Tevez, and Suarez) are second. Pisces are tied with Aquarius with 4 also but only three different players (Drogba, Anelka, Chris Sutton). Two different Aries have won it: Sheringham and Hasselbaink (2x). The rest have all been one-offs, except Capricorn and Virgo. There are literally zero top-goalscoring Capricorns and Virgos in Premier League history.
Sagittarius is an interesting sign. Like Leo it’s a fire sign (fire signs won 16 total Golden Boots, more than any other group). Michael Owen is a Sagittarius, so is Gonzalo Higuain and our very own Alexis Sanchez!
Looking further afield: Messi is a Cancer; Lewandowski is a Leo; Lacazette, Aubameyang, and this Janssen cat are all Geminis, the same as Kun Aguero; Lukaku is a Taurus and the only other Golden Boot winning Taurus was Dion Dublin; Zlatan, Giroud, and Andy Cole are all Libras.
So, there you have it. If you want to bet on a Golden Boot winner, pick a Leo. Pick Harry Kane.
Right, here’s the preview…
Will Man City bother to show up? How can they? Imagine playing in a Champions League semi-final and not even bothering to put in a performance? That actually happened this week with Man City.
People are blaming the appointment of Pep Guardiola and I can’t disagree much. The announcement earlier in the season clearly disrupted the play of Toure who is a sensitive soul. Maybe the Man City owners should have bought Toure a cake, one a day for every day since the announcement.
But Man City have structural problems that run deeper than Toure’s motivation. They have the worst tackling record in the League. They have been dribbled past 451 times this season, Arsenal are 17th in that category with 327. City will find it particularly difficult in this regard as Arsenal have more successful dribbles than any other team and the best dribbling rate of any team in the League at 69% of 724 dribbles.
Man City is the second best dribbling team in the League with 62% success rate but Arsenal are 9th best tacklers in the League. I think this is a key duel for both teams: the team that wins the dribble/tackle battle will create the most havoc in the opposite team’s system. Incidentally, the best tacklers in the Premier League are Liverpool and Tottenham who are only dribbled past at the rate of 28 and 29 percent.
In the first match between these two clubs, back in December, Arsenal only had 3 more dribbles than City and the match hinged instead on Arsenal’s turnovers. Arsenal were without Cazorla and played a midfield duo of Flamini and Ramsey. Giroud had one of his worst matches of the season, losing the ball 10 times, 8 of them just poor touches. In that match, Arsenal were so dominated that they needed to make 26 blocks (6 blocked shots, 20 blocked crosses). Arsenal average 6.6 blocked shots and crosses per game.
If Wenger can play Cazorla, I’d love to see him. He’s Arsenal’s best dribbler at a crazy 81% and he might be matched up against Fernandinho, who is one of the most dribbled-past players in the Premier League. Cazorla is also Arsenal’s second best creative player. His three assists and 2.6 key passes per game takes pressure off Özil but more importantly, frees Alexis from his creative burdens. With Alexis running in behind, Özil roaming free, and Cazorla creating havoc through the City midfield, Arsenal could take this match.
Moreover, if Cazorla can play and can play at his usual high level, Cazorla could prove to be the key player in this match.