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Birmingham City vs. Arsenal: match preview

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LONDON ENGLAND - OCTOBER 16:  Marouane Chamakh of Arsenal scores during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Birmingham City at Emirates Stadium on October 16 2010 in London England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON ENGLAND - OCTOBER 16: Marouane Chamakh of Arsenal scores during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Birmingham City at Emirates Stadium on October 16 2010 in London England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Kickoff: 12:30 PM EST, St. Andrew's, Birmingham
TV Coverage: Fox Soccer Channel

Arsenal kick off the second half of their Premier League campaign in the Midlands tomorrow against Birmingham City, whom they defeated 2-1 at Emirates earlier this season.


Halfway through the campaign, Arsenal sit two points off the top, in third place, behind both Manchester clubs.  The Gunners play City on Wednesday the 5th, so there is opportunity to gain ground there.  United haven't lost yet this year and have a game in hand, but still have to visit the Emirates later this season.  Both clubs play tomorrow before Arsenal, United at West Brom and City against Blackpool.

Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas (back from suspension), and Alex Song should all feature for Arsenal after not playing at Wigan on Wednesday.  The side that rolls out tomorrow will probably resemble the one that played against Chelsea on Monday, although Abou Diaby is out for three weeks with a calf strain.

Birmingham have most of their players available, although former Gunner Alexsandr Hleb will be missing in action with a hamstring problem.  Given Arsenal's recent struggles against set pieces, and the Nikola Zigic-ness and the quality of delivery available through Sebastian Larsson and others, Birmingham will no doubt look to exploit aerial attacks.  Given that likely strategy, starting the pairing of Johan Djourou and Laurent Koscielny seems both likely and astute.

Possible lineup:

Fabianski

Sagna        Djourou       Koscielny      Clichy

Song       Jackthelad

Fabregas

Walcott         van Persie         Nasri

...or maybe Arshavin instead of Walcott.