Date:Wednesday January 5 2011
City will be looking to end their barren run in North London which stretches back to 1975, when the Blues` last win was secured with a Rodney Marsh goal.
Arsenal Team News:
Arsene Wegner has no fresh injury worries from the weekend. Manuel Alumnia remains sidelined with an ankle problem, whilst the long-term absentees are Vermaelen and Frimpong with Achilles and knee injuries respectively. This fixture is expected to come too soon for the returning Keiran Gibbs who only started full training yesterday. Robin van Persie should continue in attack with support in the forms of Nasri and Walcott on the flanks.
Probable Arsenal Team:
3) Sagna - 20) Djourou - 6) Koscielny - 22) Clichy
4) Fabregas - 17) Song - 19) Wilshere
14) Walcott - 10) RvP - 8) Nasri
City Team News:
Roberto Mancini is devoid of the services of Mario Balotelli, but more importantly of David Silva, as City seek to end a thirty six year winless run. The absence of the Spaniard magician is a big blow to our chances this evening due to his creative spark. His importance was emphasized when we were without our attacking midfielder for around thirty minutes against Blackpool; the team seemingly forgot how to retain possession without our conductor pulling the strings in midfield. Therefore, I hope Adam Johnson retains his place in midfield in Silva`s absence due to his attacking talents.
James Milner is likely to start on the opposite wing due to his defensive qualities and his importance to retaining the side`s structure. After a poor showing against Blackpool`s Matty Phillips, I expect Mancini will prefer Zabaleta to Kolarov because of Walcott`s likely selection. Joleon Lescott should continue in central defence despite Kolo Toure`s return, whilst the battle between Boateng and Richards is too close to call.
Probable City Team:
17) Boateng - 4) Kompany - 19) Lescott - 5) Zabaleta
34) de Jong - 18) Barry
11) A. Johnson - 42) Yaya - 7) Milner
This is an incredibly important match for both sides; it represents a chance to prove your genuine title credentials against a fellow championship contender. It should be enthralling match for the neutrals but more of a tense affair for the supporters of either side. Despite Arsenal`s tendency to play beautiful football, I`m expecting tonight`s game to be a tighter, nervier affair. Chances will probably be limited, meaning sharpness in front of goal will be paramount.
Arsenal should most certainly not be underestimated, after beating us 0-3 at home earlier in the season (albeit mainly to the dismissal of Boyata) and coming off the back of a convincing win against Birmingham. Their most important recent victory however was their brutal dismantling of Chelsea, proving that Wenger`s side can in fact beat a rival. But despite their attacking talents and their tendency to dominate in midfield, Arsenal are suspect at the back and their frailties must be exploited by our talismanic captain if we are to emerge from the game with something to show for our efforts.
However, City have the best away record in the league and will attempt to out-muscle Arsenal in midfield. Therefore, for all the above reasons, I`m predicting a closer game than the previous fixture, in which Arsenal will probably edge in terms of attempts and possession, but will probably end-up as a draw due to City`s resilience. Prediction: Arsenal 1 - 1 MCFC.
Date:Wednesday January 5 2011
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