Arsenal and Manchester City lock horns in a must win game as both look to catch their arch rivals. Arsenal lie sixth in the league, two points behind rivals Tottenham whereas City are no less than 7 points behind leaders Manchester United and anything less than a win will further diminish their chances of retaining the premier league crown.
Last year in the corresponding fixture, a late Mikel Arteta strike sealed Arsenal’s victory and City fell 8 points behind United. The sky blues recovered brilliantly to snatch the title but it is even harder this time around.
City have a torrid record playing Arsenal away and will look to fix that tomorrow. Soccerisma covers 5 key battles that may decide the contest.
Vermaelen has not been in good form this season and any blip against City may as well cost Arsenal the match. Edin Dzeko has scored majority of his goals coming on as a substitute this season but as Aguero recovers from hamstring injury and Balotelli remains out of favor for Mancini, the Bosnian will most likely start the game. Dzeko with the support of Argentine Tevez can be a handful for any defense in the world.
Dzeko might not be very mobile but rarely misses chances and Vermaelen has to be on his toes to stop him from winning the game for City as the Bosnian has so often done this season.
Olivier Giroud might not be fit for the game after suffering a knee injury against Swansea which means Theo Walcott will most probably start as a central striker. The English international has been in fantastic form and is close to signing a new deal for the Gunners. On the other hand, league’s best defender last year Vincent Kompany has had an inconsistent season thus far and the skipper must make sure he is at his best to halt the attacking threat of Walcott.
Santi Cazorla has been Arsenal’s best player this season and the main source of creativity for the side. The Spanish international will be contested by his compatriot Javi Garcia who by all means is a decent defensive midfielder but by no means as good as the brilliant Yaya Toure.
The Ivorian is off to take part in the African Cup of Nations and City suffered big time in his absence last year. Therefore, Javi Garcia has big shoes to fill and must prove his qualities. A battle against one of league’s best playmakers will be intriguing.
As Maicon and Richards are still out with long term injuries, Zabaleta will have to deal with the menace of star Lukas Podolski. The former Bayern Munich player had a slow start in the premier league, however, slowly but surely Podolski has been coming to form. Zabaleta will have to deal with the pace and trickery of the German international. Poldi did score in the FA Cup encounter against Swansea and will look to continue that against the champions.
Kieran Gibbs has now established himself as Arsenal’s first choice left back. The youngster has already featured in 15 league games for the gunners and will most likely start against Manchester City. Gibbs will have to face Spanish maestro David Silva who has all it takes to unsettle the 23 year old. Whether or not the England international can step up and win the challenge against a top player like Silva, only time will tell.