Preview: Arsenal vs Manchester City

After the high of Tuesday, City now face another potentially season-defining fixture, this time away to Arsenal. Manuel Pellegrini today described it as “a match of six points,” an assessment few would disagree with.

Looking back, the win at Hull was crucial. Down to ten men and with Kompany sent off, our season looked in tatters, yet we managed to win that match comfortably with a superb performance – arguably the best of the season – and that game has kick-started our form. Since the win at Spurs at the end of January it’s fair to say we hadn’t been at our best, but we’ve steadily improved recently, culminating in Tuesday’s complete domination at Old Trafford.

Arsenal, on the other hand, have stuttered badly this week, and their title challenge appears to have wilted. A 6-0 defeat to Chelsea and a draw with Swansea at home means securing a top-four place and winning the FA Cup is probably their priority now.

Even with such contrasting recent form, it’s difficult to feel hugely confident given our record there. Last season’s win was our first in the league away at Arsenal in 37 years.

City have now kept five clean sheets on the bounce in the league, including four straight wins, and another win tomorrow will send us into the tough game with Southampton full of confidence. The bookies are offering 8/5 for the Citizens to win, which must make us one of the best betting tips for this weekend’s football.

Sergio Aguero is still out with a hamstring problem and will be assessed over the next week to see if he is fit enough to play against Southampton. The team has coped admirably in his absence but if we can recover him soon and return him to the same level he was at previously, it’ll be a massive boost to our title chances.

Matija Nastasic is also still out, with his knee injury proving somewhat of a mystery. The medical staff at City aren’t 100% sure what the exact nature of the problem is, which is confusing and worrying in equal measure.

From what I could gather from the manager’s press conference today, Micah Richards is fully fit but hasn’t been named in the squad for the trip to the Emirates. Read into that what you will, but it’s becoming painfully obvious Richards’ future lies elsewhere.

The big news ahead of tomorrow is that David Silva is fit after some reports suggested he had a knock and may miss out. It’ll also be interesting who starts out of James Milner and Jesus Navas, both of whom are desperate to play in order to secure their World Cup places.

Pellegrini said:

The team is exactly the same as last week with Aguero and Nastasic out. All the other players are fit.

Yes he [Silva] is ok. He is in the squad list. Aguero needs one more week. We will see next week how he improves from his injury. Jack Rodwell is in the squad. Micah Richards stays working here.

Of course it is a big game because it is against a team that is fighting for the title also. I think that if we win on Saturday we can be 12 points ahead of Arsenal if we win the two games that we have in hand. It is an important difference. Six points is also an important difference. It is a match of six points but it is not the last match and not the match that will decide the title. It is a huge step to continue in the way we are doing so far

Maybe they did not have a good week but they continue being a very good team. They play at home, they have very good players and I am sure that we will need to do a very good game if we want to win.

 

Don’t miss my interviews with two Arsenal fans: Part 1 with FK and Part 2 with Michael Keshani.

 

Written by Rob Pollard

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