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Arsenal vs. Manchester City: match preview

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Kickoff: 2:45 PM EST
Emirates Stadium
TV Coverage: ESPN2/
SBN Manchester City coverage: Bitter and Blue

Arsenal welcome second-place Manchester City to the Emirates tomorrow for a pretty/somewhat/kind of crucial match between top four rivals.

The last time these two sides met, Arsenal came away 3-0 victors against a City side reduced to ten men.  A searing goal from Samir Nasri, an Alex Song special (find oneself walking into the path of a fortunate bounce off another player and immediately lash it home--that's an Alex Song special), and a late Nicklas Bendtner strike sealed the deal for the Reds at Eastlands after Dedryk Boyata had seen red for a last-man tackle early in the action.

That was then; this is now.

Arsenal sit two points behind City but have a game in hand over Roberto Mancini's team.  City look as though they will be without the services of either David Silva (knee) or Emmanuel Adebayor (calf) for the match, but they still feature plenty of firepower with the likes of Carlos Tevez, Adam Johnson, and Mario Balotelli roaming the forward areas.  Edin Dzeko looks likely to join that attack very soon as well, but does not appear to be arriving in time to face Arsenal.

For their part, the Gunners look pretty solid on the injury front, Thomas Vermaelen aside.  Abou Diaby is still out, but Kieran Gibbs could return as early as Saturday.

With Manchester United's victory over Stoke today giving them a five-point lead over Arsenal in the same amount of matches, tomorrow's match looms even larger.  Arsenal don't play for draws, though, especially at home, and one would expect the team selection to look something similar to the one used against Chelsea and Birmingham.  One would also hope that the atmosphere at the Emirates would be more along the lines of the Chelsea match, that is, if one believes in atmosphere.  But, hey, the players do, and it sounds good coming out of the speakers...and the Samir Nasri song is nice.

Potential lineup:


Sagna        Djourou        Koscielny        Clichy

Song      Wilshere


Walcott      van Persie      Nasri

But then, one could see Wenger saving Walcott for the cup matches and using Andrei Arshavin tomorrow at the start, too...thoughts?