Arsenal legend Lee Dixon says before Manchester City: Wenger needs to find balance between attack and defence
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Arsenal legend Lee Dixon – who has been busy working on the forthcoming movie 89 The Film – has been speaking exclusively to the Islington Gazette newspaper before Arsene Wenger’s men take on Manchester City at the Etihad on Sunday.
The much-loved right-back – who was part of the legendary back four which earned a place in Gunners folklore after beating the all-conquering Liverpool side at Anfield to win the league title with the last-kick of the 1988-89 season – has been analysing Wenger’s men before they play Pep Guardiola’s side.
The former Barcelona boss has shaped an impressive City squad who have already notched 35 league goals in only ten matches and who approach the fixture with great confidence after an impressive 4-2 victory at Serie A leaders Napoli in the Champions League this week.
Wenger has said his team will take the match to City vowing to attack and not sit deep to soak up pressure before attempting to hit the Premier League leaders on the break.
But despite Arsenal being unbeaten in five legendary Arsenal defender Dixon has urged caution.
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He said: “There has to be a balance attack and defence. There has to be a balance between the two.
“Of course you’ve got to be on the offensive with your pre-match talk, and your set up to begin with, but the balance of your team between attack and defence has been Arsenal’s problem for a few years.
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“There’s no doubt Arsenal can attack and score against the best teams – no doubt about that at all.
“Arsenal have always had that attacking quality.
“But getting that balance right between defence and attack has been the major problem that’s been there for a while.”
The Gunners are huge underdogs going into the fixture, trailing the league leaders by nine points, with 10 games played so far in the campaign.
Wenger, whose side have only won a single Premier League away match this term – 5-2 against a poor Everton side in Ronald Koeman’s last match in charge at Goodison Park – is adamant his team will attack despite three defeats and a draw that have seen Arsenal stutter in their attempts to break back into the top four this term.
Yet Dixon is not confident that policy will work on Sunday against Guardiola’s free-scoring team.
He said: “To come out and just attack City – well good luck with that one.
“It’s about the balance – can this team defend and attack well on a regular basis?
“We’ve already seen how well Arsenal played against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and against them in the Cup Final – but they’ve got to be able to do that every week.
“When you’re playing against Stoke and you’re not playing particularly well and you’re getting a bit of a running over you’ve got to roll your sleeves up and fight.
“Sometimes with this Arsenal team I look at them and I think they’re thinking when they play certain sides ‘well it’s only them, we’ll beat them easily’.
“I think sometimes some of the players in our squad think ‘we’re better than them’ – and think all they have to do is turn up and they’ve won the game.
“Well it doesn’t always work like that. It’s a balance of mentality that’s been our biggest problem.”
Lee Dixon has been busy working on 89 The Film.
89 tells the incredible story of one of football’s greatest triumphs: when against all odds Arsenal snatched the Championship title from Liverpool at Anfield in the last minute of the last game of the 1988/89 season.
Mixing archive and previously unseen footage with revealing interviews, insights and memories from the original squad, game officials, fans and the people who were there on the night this is the definitive account of a watershed moment in football and a must-watch for any sports fan.
In OurScreen.com cinemas and on DVD and Digital Download this November.
For more visit www.ourscreen.com/film/89