Manchester City travel to Arsenal on Sunday in a match that could be pivotal in the Premier League title battle.
The Sky Blues will be hoping their neighbours Manchester United slip-up in the early game against Liverpool and allow them to reduce the seven-point gap at the top with a positive result against the Gunners.
Arsenal have endured a topsy-turvy season which can be encapsulated by their last two results – a brilliant 7-3 win against Newcastle but a woeful performance in a 1-1 draw against Southampton.
The mixed results see the Gunners sitting sixth, four points behind Chelsea in the last Champions League qualification position.
With Manchester City already having been knocked out of all European competitions, they have the ability to focus on domestic competitions but have several selection problems coming up during this crucial period.
Brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure are away with Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations and they will also be missing Sergio Aguero (thigh injury) and Samir Nasri (suspended).
The loss of Yaya Toure is immense as he has become the heart of City’s midfield and with Mario Balotelli creating more controversial headlines through a bust-up with manager Roberto Mancini, the attacking threat is going to be left to Carlos Tevez, David Silva and Edin Dzeko.
At the heart of Arsenal’s good performances this season have been diminutive midfielder Santi Cazorla and born-again striker Theo Walcott.
The English forward, the Gunners’ top scorer this season with eight goals, has been subject to contract speculation for a number of months but is rumoured to have signed a new five-year deal to be announced before the game.
If the Gunners are to hit the scoreboard, it’s more than likely that Cazorla will be pulling the strings and City will miss the influence of Yaya Toure in quelling the creative Spanish playmaker.
Defensive midfielder Abou Diaby made his return for the Arsenal Under-21s midweek, but is not expected to be risked by Arsene Wenger, wary of the Frenchman’s injury history.
The result of the Manchester United-Liverpool will set the tone for this clash with City knowing where they stand in the title race after that result.
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