Arsenal take on title rivals Manchester City on Wednesday in what is expected to be an exciting encounter between two quality sides. The Gunners secured an important victory against Birmingham City in style with Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri running the show for the away side. City continued their impressive run of results with another win with Carlos Tevez and Yaya Toure again coming good for the Citizens.
Both the clubs remain close in the title race and this game could be important in deciding the fortunes of the two clubs at the end of the season. It has never been more tight and it is matches like these which could prove to be crucial in the challenge for the title.
Manchester City have spent a lot of money yet again this summer and they have developed into a stronger unit this summer and they have some excellent players at their disposal. Also, they have an excellent squad at their disposal which is one of the strongest in the Premier League.
Arsenal have also got a very strong squad thanks to the development of many youngsters by Arsene Wenger who has to get it right against City. The Gunners enjoyed a 3-0 win at the City of Manchester stadium but this match will be a hard fought one and can be won only if the Gunners play to their best.
The only new injury concern is that of Abou Diaby who is injured yet again and is two to three weeks out. Manuel Almunia and Thomas Vermaelen are yet to recover completely and are sure to miss this match. However, Kieran Gibbs is back int training and has a small chance to feature on the bench for the clash.
Wenger has to decide on whether or not to gamble on the fitness of Robin van Persie and Johan Djourou, but he might play them and rest them for the Carling Cup and FA cup ties. The same eleven players started the games against Chelsea and Birmingham and their success might ensure that all of them might start again.
Probable Starting 11
Lukasz Fabianski; Gael Clichy, Johan Djourou, Laurent Koscielny, Bacary Sagna; Jack Wilshere, Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas; Samir Nasri, Theo Walcott, Robin van Persie
Edin Dzeko has been linked strongly with Manchester City who have reportedly agreed a fee with Wolfsburg. However he will not play a role in the game against Arsenal for sure but Roberto Mancini has a very strong squad to choose from. Mario Balotelli was ruled out of the last game due to a knee injury after his hat-trick against Aston Villa.
It is doubtful whether Balotelli will start against the Gunners and it will depend on the formation which Mancini decides to use. Adam Johnson has started games recently but it is doubtful if the manager will opt for him instead of Milner who will work hard and give support to the fullback considering the fact that Arsenal's strength lies in goal scoring wingers.
Probable Starting 11
Joe Hart; Aleksander Kolarov, Vincent Kompany, Kolo Toure, Jerome Boateng; Gareth Barry, Nigel De Jong, Yaya Toure; James Milner, David Silva, Carlos Tevez
Arsenal Key Player: Cesc Fabregas
Samir Nasri has been in amazing form this season and has emerged as an early contender for the player of the season award this season. The Frenchman has scored 13 goals in all competitions which is his highest for the Gunners in a season. Though he is influential in every game, it is important Arsenal have the upper hand in the midfield in the big games.
Cesc Fabregas is a key player for the Gunners and against Chelsea and Birmingham, he showed what he is capable of and dominated the midfield battles. The Spaniard is an inspirational player and he is returning to his best form. Manchester City have three combative midfielders but if Fabregas can still provide service for the strikers, then Arsenal has a great chance to win the game.
Manchester City Key Player: Yaya Toure
Yaya Toure played as a defensive midfielder in his time with FC Barcelona but after signing for City, he has played in a more advanced role for the Citizens. Though he did take time to adjust to the Premiership, he has shown that he has the quality to be a huge player for City. Toure has been in excellent form in the last three weeks and will hope to maintain his good run.
He had a horrible game against Arsenal but he would be confident he can make a big impact in this game. His battle against Alex Song in midfield could be very important in the context of the game. Also, he could lead counter-attacks and if Song and Wilshere are caught high up the field, he will look to maximize his advantage.