Date:Friday April 3 2009
Saturday 4th April 2009
Arsenal will hope to avenge the 3-0 demolition suffered at the hands of Manchester City earlier in the season with a home win leading into their Champions League clash. City have a tough task at the Emirates as they hope to pick up some desperately needed away points.
Mark Hughes said ahead the big game on Saturday: 'Arsenal have had a season which has seen them receive criticism, perhaps more than they would usually get.
'But they've come through that. They have the experience of dealing with negative publicity and being able to rise above it and still perform.
'Aston Villa have just had a stumble and Arsenal have been ready to capitalise on that.
'They're playing well at the moment and it will be a very difficult game for us. But I think everybody is really looking forward to it.'
Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas said of City: 'They are a very good side and I like the way they play. On their day you can see that the likes of Robinho, Stephen Ireland, Craig Bellamy and Shaun Wright-Phillips are all fine players - and they have a very good manager as well. Hopefully we can get the three points - we have to remember what they did to us in beating us 3-0 a few months ago and try to continue our good form because we have to play eight finals from now on.'
Samir Nasri returned from international duty with the flu and joins Robin van Persie, Eduardo and Abou Diaby on the sidelines.
Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor and Theo Walcott are all set to return to face Manchester City.
'Captain Fab' is back and is rearing to go. The Arsenal midfielder has been outstanding all season and will be a handful for City.
Lets hope he sticks to the dribbling and leaves the spitting for Hull.
Striker Craig Bellamy is set to miss out with a knee injury suffered during Wales' disappointing loss to Finland. Benjani and Daniel Sturridge have overcome injuries but are still lacking match fitness meaning that Bulgarian striker Valeri Bojinov may be leading the line for City.
Robinho and Elano will arrive back from international duty on Friday, however, with Robinho limping off with 20 minutes to go during Brazil`s emphatic 3-0 win over Peru, Mark Hughes will need to assess his condition before deciding if he is fit enough to play.
Wayne Bridge could be set to return after a hamstring strain, while Vincent Kompany, Shay Given and Shaun Wright-Phillips will also be hoping to overcome various injuries.
De Jong played a couple of solid games for Holland and will be brimming with confidence. He will face a tough battle in midfield but the Dutchman should be used to the type of quick passing movements which Arsenal like to play.
A solid performance in midfield could make the difference between winning and losing.
Manchester City have not won a league game away at Arsenal for 33 years and counting.
Arsenal are the only unbeaten club in the Premier League in 2009.
Manchester City have only won once on their travels, a 3-0 thrashing of Sunderland.
Arsenal have strict flag regulations for the Emirates Stadium: 'National flags are not allowed into the Stadium. Flags can be no bigger than 1m square and they must not be attached to a thick pole, the pole can be no thicker than a pencil.'
An interesting fact which Arsenal has included on their website is that the stadium contains '370 metres of urinals'. Fascinating.
Andre Marriner officiates Saturday's game. In 20 games, Marriner has shown 4 yellow cards and 68 yellows. He has also been in charge of two City victories.
Arsenal have stuttered through the season but have hit a purple patch, while Manchester City's erratic form continues to hinder their progress. A win away at the Emirates would be the perfect tonic to cure their away blues, but to be honest, even a point would be significant progress. Unfortunately I can only see this game going one way: Arsenal 2-0 MCFC.
Hamburg SV away on Thursday 9th April with a 7.45pm kick off.
(First leg of UEFA Cup quarter-final clash)
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Date:Friday April 3 2009
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