Arsenal take on last season’s Premier League champions Man City at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon. The Gunners will be hoping for a similar result to the one in this fixture last season where a late Mikel Arteta strike gave Arsenal a 1-0 win over City. The two teams met last September at the Etihad in the reverse fixture, with the outcome a 1-1 draw.
Everyone from last weekend’s FA Cup tie with Swansea is fit except for Olivier Giroud who is a doubt after cutting his knee in that game. He is a 50:50 for the game and will have to pass a late fitness test if he is to play. Abou Diaby could feature having come through a reserve fixture against West Brom in midweek unharmed. Andre Santos also played (and scored) in that fixture and should be available too.
Man City come to the Emirates with a depleted squad. Star player Sergio Aguero is expected to be out for at least another week with a knee injury, whilst former Gunner Samir Nasri will miss out on a return to the Emirates due to suspension. Yaya Toure and his brother Kolo, another former Arsenal man, are at the Africa Cup of Nations as well as Abdul Razak.
City may have tempted players such as Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri to Manchester in the past few years but it hasn’t brought them much luck when visiting Arsenal. City did beat an Arsenal reserve side 1-0 in the League Cup last season, but in the league, City haven’t won at Arsenal since a 3-2 win in 1975 at Highbury. That is 38 years ago now and they have had 27 league visits to North London since that win, winning none of them. In fact, City have failed to even score at Arsenal in the league since 2007. Their last scorer at Arsenal?. American international DaMarcus Beasley, who scored in a 3-1 defeat at the Emirates back in 2007 and now plays for Mexican side Puebla.
With many absentees and the history against them, you’d be thinking City will struggle to get a win they need on Sunday. Whilst the fact that City are missing several key players can only help Arsenal, it certainly doesn’t guarantee anything for the Gunners. City have the depth within their squad to cause Arsenal problems still. With that much money available to them, it’s hardly surprising that even a weakened City side can beat a lot of Premier League teams.
Both of these sides need to win on Sunday, so that should make it a very entertaining game to watch. City are in danger of falling very far behind neighbours United in the title race and Arsenal could fall further behind Tottenham, Chelsea and Everton in the hunt for Champions League qualification. A win would do Arsenal the world of good, especially with Tottenham having a tricky fixture away to QPR and Chelsea also having a difficult away trip to Stoke.
Arsenal have some important fixtures ahead of them in the league, ones that in honesty, they cannot afford to lose if they are to be playing in the Champions League next season. Tomorrow will give a big indication as to whether or not this Arsenal side are strong enough to do so.