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Page last updated at 08:35 GMT, Monday, 25 October 2010 09:35 UK

Lee Dixon's tactical view

Samir Nasri
Samir Nasri was outstanding against Manchester City according to Lee Dixon

Lee Dixon
By Lee Dixon
Former England defender and BBC Sport pundit

It is difficult to say whether Arsenal have turned a corner following their 3-0 win at Manchester City on Sunday but things are very encouraging at this point in time.

Last season they were struck down by two big problems: they were not good enough without the ball and they kept getting beaten by the big teams.

This term they have already been seen off by Chelsea, as well as West Brom, but when centre-back Thomas Vermaelen plays, I think there has been an improvement in defence just because they have spent another season learning from one another and they are intelligent players.

Without the 24-year-old Belgian I am not too convinced about the defence but another area which has improved is that of goalkeeper, which used to be a weekly talking point.

Lukasz Fabianski looks in form and a clean sheet against Manchester City will add to his growing confidence which I think was hugely helped by his penalty save in the Champions League victory over Partizan Belgrade on 28 September.

The 25-year-old Pole has certainly put pressure on fellow keeper Manuel Almunia and while he holds on to the shirt, it is a positive sign for Arsenal fans.

Mentally, the win against a team challenging for the title will be good for the whole Arsenal team.

606: DEBATE
Wengers Magic Hat

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger's record against the top teams is poor and I read the other day in a newspaper that against Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City his win ratio is only 18% since 2008.

Wenger knows that consistency against the top teams will be crucial to competing for the title because the Premier League is more competitive now with Tottenham and the likes of Aston Villa all able to take points off them. When you play the teams near the top the important thing is not to lose.

Winning so convincingly at Eastlands, albeit against 10 men, will push Arsenal on to believe in themselves a bit more. I have to say that I am not convinced they can do it for the whole season but I want them to prove me wrong.

Another plus point from the Gunners' season so far has been their added options when it comes to attacking from midfield areas. Much has been made of Jack Wilshere's emergence into the first team, but without the suspended Englishman on Sunday, Frenchman Samir Nasri was outstanding.

Nasri, who scored Arsenal's first goal, can be in captain Cesc Fabregas's shadow sometimes, but he has a really good footballing brain and knows how to draw defenders out of position. The 23-year-old takes the pressure off Fabregas and when such a technically gifted pair play together, as a defender, it is very difficult to look after them at the same time.

Add in Wilshere, and the defensive value of Alex Song or Denilson, and Wenger has a wider range of players to choose from.

Listening to Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini afterwards he sounded very upbeat and proud of his players considering the manner of the defeat, but there was a team spirit and camaraderie that maybe in adversity he might not have seen before, so I think he can learn a lot from the game.

The only question I would have was playing 19-year-old Dedryck Boyata at centre-back in such a big game, but that might have something to do with the form of Joleon Lescott.

Javier Hernandez scores against Stoke
Hernandez scored one of the best headers I think I've ever seen. I've seen players try to flick a ball back with the top of the head but to actually head the ball with the back of his head was just phenomenal.

Lee Dixon on Javier Hernandez's header against Stoke

Both sides can win the league but I would say that leaders Chelsea are better than both of them at the moment.

A lot, too, has been said about Manchester United this week for obvious reasons, but I would be very careful of writing them off right now.

It will be interesting to know how the senior players like Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville deal with what Wayne Rooney said about his Old Trafford team-mates - I'm sure they will let him know.

When I was playing nobody ever talked about how much money they were on. You had an idea; I was not stupid enough to think I was getting the same money as Dennis Bergkamp or Thierry Henry but nowadays the ink is dried on the contract and it is in the newspapers. Whether the figures are accurate or not I do not know, but I doubt they are too far off.

I am pretty sure that in their own way, the senior players at the club will have a word with Rooney, whether they take the mickey out of him or one of them might go up privately and ask him what he thinks he was doing.

If it had been in our dressing room, someone would have said something to him, without question. He would have been made aware that the rest of the players were not happy with what he had said.

Whether Rooney cares or not, I am not sure. He does not seem like a player who worries too much about what other people think. There is a possibility that it could erode team spirit but a season in football can sometimes feel like 10 years in normal life.

You live your life from Wednesday to Saturday because you normally play two games a week. You do not have time to think about the past too much and players tend to be pretty forgiving.

If Rooney scores the winner in a Manchester derby they will not care how much money he is on. Things will have been said in the dressing room and then it will be 'right that's done, let's move on'.

If the team is not winning, however, then it will come up again but in the past Manchester United have been winners more than losers.

Lee Dixon was talking to Alistair Magowan



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see also
Man City 0-3 Arsenal
24 Oct 10 |  Premier League
Win will give us belief - Wenger
24 Oct 10 |  Premier League
Stoke 1-2 Man Utd
24 Oct 10 |  Premier League


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