Here comes the first of the clashes everyone across Planet Blue and beyond has been waiting for as Mark Hughes’ revitalised City squad begin to take on The Big Four…
‘They are an outstanding side and if you allow them to dictate play and get their tails up they have the ability to hurt you collectively and individually. They know we will be a test, certainly at home, where we were outstanding against them last season when we won 3-0.
‘We were very good value for that win, so we go into this game with no apprehension, because we know we can compete against them.’
‘After just a week at City, I could feel that the supporters believed in me and were willing me to do well. They sing songs about me and they love me. I’m so happy because I’m really enjoying myself again. I certainly feel very at home, very comfortable. The staff and the supporters have made me feel very welcome and I think that is being reflected on the pitch. Now I want to repay that faith and love. What you can see now is a confident player…
I feel loved again and that’s why I’m smiling again.’
“There are no hard feelings for Toure or Adebayor. I always wish my former players to be happy. It is part of life that players move on. That is not a reason that you want them not to be happy.
“I believe City are a good side because they have good players and a good level of confidence because they started well. It will be an interesting test.”
Manchester CITY Team News:
Crocky Santa Cruz and Michael Johnson are still rehabilitating, but we understand that the classy Vincent Kompany might make the bench.
Carlos Tevez is definitely out with an international duty twisted knee and the jet lagged Robinho’s thigh knock from the same game might not see him risked ahead of the Manchester derby.
Opportunity knocks for jet heeled players Martin Petrov and Craig Bellamy.
Player to watch: Gareth Barry
Twice VMC’s MOTM poll winner in this campaign, Barry’s big engined box to box running has been key to City’s winning start to the season. We’ve not a had a midfield general of his calibre in years and his ability to be seemingly everywhere will be crucial if Arsenal are to be beaten this weekend.
Arsenal Team News:
It’s a mixed bag of news for Arsene Wenger. The Gooners were dealt a huge blow when Andrei Arshavin reported back from Russian duty with a groin injury. His name can be added to those of Djourou and Nasri who will not feature.
However, the classly likes of Captain Cesc Fabregas, Thomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott could all play a role to differing degrees.
Player to watch: Cesc Fabregas
It’s got to be Fabregas if he returns to Wenger’s starting XI. The quicksilver Spaniard makes the Arsenal tick and on his day can be absolutely lethal. What happens around Fabregas is where the game will be won and lost. Stephen Ireland and Gareth Barry will be going after him left right and centre.
Match Facts & Stats
Adebayor needs one more goal to reach the milestone of 50 in the Premier League.
The brilliant Seamus Given and City are aiming for a 5th consecutive clean sheet in all competitions this season.
As Sparky pointed out at Thursday’s press conference, only City, the rags and Chelsea are the British teams to have beaten Arsenal in the past 10 months.
League Head To Head:
City 42 wins, Arsenal 83 wins, 37 draws.
CITY 3-0 Arsenal 22-11-2008
Arsenal 2-0 CITY 04-04-2009
Mark Clattenburg, Tyne and Wear
Games: 43, Yellow Cards: 114, Red Cards: 10
Clattenburg only returned from suspension for breach of contract after appeal to referee City’s last game of the last season at home to Bolton. He is yet to red card any player in this campaign.
This is as eagerly anticipated a firecracker of a game as they come. It’s widely acknowledged that Arsenal in full flow can be devastating. But so can this Manchester City side whose rapid pass and move play has been scintillating to watch at times this season. City are gelling quicker than was expected and will need to be as on message as possible with each other if they are to seal the points.
Still, if Sparky’s squad are to amount to anything during this domestic focused campaign then Arsenal are the type of side you have to get in amongst from the off.
Tevez’s chasing will be sorely missed but there is enough quality in depth now across the park for City to go for it. Arsenal are going out to defend their top four crown and City aim to stake a claim for it.
Johnny On The Spot:
I’m banking on City’s new found resilience and a rocking Eastlands to have the edge in a thrilling encounter.
CITY 2 Arsenal 1
Sun 20 Sep, 1.30pm Swamp Time: The rags v CITY, Premier League.
Wed 23 Sep, 8.00pm Eastlands Time: CITY v Fulham, Carling Cup.
Mon 28 Sep, 8.00pm Eastlands Time: CITY v West Ham, Premier League.