Date:Saturday October 23 2010
Sunday, 24th October
City face Arsenal on Sunday, in what I believe will be our biggest test of the season. It should be a cracker
"We must recover after playing Poznan - Arsenal will be a very different game. They play very well, probably the best team playing in the Premier League, and they won their Champions League game in midweek 5-1. But we want to do good work on Sunday. It is a match between two top squads, and we must have a good balance against them.
'We have a good team, but Arsenal have played together for several years, and we want to become better than them. In the end, we can be, but we must work hard because they have been together five or six years. We need them (those extra years) but we have a good chance - it depends on us.
'I am feeling good, the squad is feeling good, but it is only the start of the season. We must wait and continue to work. When you play every three days, it is a very long season. The game is important for us and for Arsenal. Mario could be involved - we will wait until Saturday. I think probably he can be on the bench."
City couldn`t go into such an important game in better form. After 4 consecutive wins in the Premier League Mancini`s men are flying high in second position. However, this game will certainly not be walk over. Arsenal are also in good form and as Mancini has explained; are the best footballing side in the division. Bobby is expected to opt for the 'three holding midfielders` formation for tomorrows fixture. Despite a brilliant hat trick in midweek; Emmanuel Adebayor is unlikely to start against his former side.
I expect the industrious James Milner to continue on the left wing whilst David Silva is now a dead cert to start on the right after his recent mesmeric displays. Adam Johnson will have to be content with a place on the Berti once again, but in fairness he has had a lot of playing time recently. Kolo Toure is rated as doubtful so Joleon Lescott should partner Kompany in central defence. With Boateng and Bridge occupying the full back positions. Mario Balotelli has been in full training for the last week or so and could make the bench which is a very exciting prospect indeed.
Therefore, here is what I expect the team to be:
Probable City Team:
17) Boateng - 4) Kompany - 19) Lescott - 3) Bridge
34) de Jong - 18) Barry
21) Silva - 42) Y Toure - 7) Milner
This lad is really starting to come into his own. The impact he had upon our last league game at the seaside was impressive but his performance on Thursday night was pure quality. The precision with which he found Emmanuel Adebayor was outstanding; his delivery for Ade`s second was absolutely pin-point. However, Silva has yet to have such an influence against a quality side. There have been glimpses of his brilliance but he has yet to torment the quality defenders in a way in which I know he can. I have the up most confidence in the Spaniard.
Arsene Wenger has a number of selection headaches due to injury, mainly to his key defensive players. Thomas Vermaelen is still sidelined with an achilles problem and Laurent Koscielny is unlikely to recover from a back problem. This leaves Wenger with only two fit centre halves; Squillaci and Djourou who have looked anything but solid in their last two matches together.
Probably the most interesting battle will be David Silva vs Gael Clichy. On current form there is only one winner, and that is the former. Expect Silva to cut inside and attempt to drag Clichy with him, leaving a gap down Arsenal`s left flank. They a world class side from Alex Song forwards, but they`ve always stuttered due to their defensive naiveties and failures. Their goalkeeper has often been the man to blame for their failures and if they are to get something from tomorrow`s game the players often in question have to stand up and be counted.
Probable Arsenal Team:
3) Sagna - 18) Squillaci - 20) Djourou - 22) Clichy
15) Denilson - 4) Fabregas - 17) Song
8) Nasri - 29) Chamkh - 23) Arshavin
He is Arsenal`s talisman, their driving force. Without him they can look extremely short on ideas, lacking a midfield presence. But with him they are such a force. The manner in which he drives on from deep midfield and breaks into your penalty area at exactly the precise time is simply devastating. Nigel de Jong will have to subdue the midfielder like he has done in previous encounters. If he adopts his approach from Thursday night; tackling with brilliant timing and intensity, then the Spaniard`s side are much less likely to nick something. I expect them to cause us a host of problems, mainly through Nasri and Fabregas. So if those two can be muted then I think we can emerge victorious.
Between 1994 and 2006 Arsenal won seven successive league games away to Man City.
However, City have won three of the last four top-flight games at Eastlands (four of five including a League Cup win in December).
Carlos Tevez's two goals against Blackpool made him the Premier League's leading South American goalscorer. He has 56 goals, two clear of Uruguayan Gus Poyet.
City are the only side yet to score a headed Premier League goal this season (after scoring the most goals from corners last campaign).
The Gunners have not kept a clean sheet in their last 15 league and cup away games. The last away match in which they did not concede was a Premier League game at Aston Villa on 27 January which finished goalless.
The Gunners have won one of their last eight Premier League away games.
Confidence is high at City. We've been picking up a mass of points without playing particularly well. However, tomorrow I think things could change. I anticipate a really good performance, a very open match with lots of chances. But I'm not getting my hopes up about winning. Arsenal have a slightly renewed sense of determination about them this season, they seem to have more bite. As is often the case in many of our big games, the game will depend on the victor in the midfield area. Nigel de Jong and Gareth Barry have to shield the defence whilst Kompany and Lescott need to deal with the aerial threat of Chamakh. Strangely, if he starts. I think Yaya Toure can hold the key. He is the type of midfielder Arsenal crave, since the loss of Patrick Vieira they haven't had such a physical presence in midfield. Toure owes us a good game and needs to show exactly why he is the best paid player at the club. In conclusion, I'm predicting a high scoring draw with Arsenal nicking one late-on. Prediction: MCFC 3 - 3 Arsenal
Saturday, 30th October v Wolves @ 15:00 (A)
Thursday, 4th November v Lech Poznan @ 19:00 (A)
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Date:Saturday October 23 2010
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