Arsenal vs. Manchester City
English Premier League
Kickoff: Sunday, January 13, 11 AM EST, Emirates Stadium, Londonium
Form: ARS WWWDD | MNC WLWWW
TV: Fox Soccer Channel
SBN Manchester City Coverage: Bitter and Blue
Arsenal kick off tomorrow against the defending Premier League champions Manchester City. Last time these two teams met, Laurent Koscielny pulled out a late equalizer at the Etihad to share the spoils on a late September day. Hopefully Arsenal can go one better tomorrow and take all three points to keep up with the pack of teams fighting for fourth place right now and gain a little ground on Tottenham.
City have some injury issues; Sergio Aguero is out for tomorrow's match. Also a huge major loss in their midfield is Yaya Toure, who is abroad for the African Cup of Nations, along with his brother Kolo. Gervinho joins them in the Ivory Coast side from Arsenal. The Bitter and Blue fellows reckon that City will run out a side comprised of the following: Hart, Clichy, Kompany, Nastasic, Zabaleta, Barry, Garcia, Milner, Silva, Tevez, Dzeko. The midfield three of Gareth Barry, Javi Garcia, and James Milner isn't super duper attacking, and if you don't think those three are out there to stop Arsenal's midfield, well. Chances are they might sit back some, rather than press Arsenal's midfield hard as many other teams have done, so it is up to Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, and Santi Cazorla to find ways through.
Arsenal have just about their full complement available, excluding the aforementioned Ivorian Forehead and probably Olivier Giroud, whose knee is 50/50 for tomorrow (that must have been some cut; it's been keeping him out of training all week long). Lukasz Fabianski is still hurt. Abou Diaby and Andre Santos both played in the midweek U21 fixture, so they're technically back, but I wouldn't pencil them in for anything more than a late sub tomorrow if necessary (although we all remember how well Diaby did against City back in September). Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also played in that match, so he probably will start on the bench tomorrow. That all in mind, here's a lineup one might expect:
Now, personally, I'd sort of like to see Podolski at center forward, weirdly, because I'm not sure about Walcott's ability to outmuscle a deep-lying pair of Kompany and Nastasic. Ramsey on the right is weird, I'll grant you, but may help retain some possession and provide some extra manpower against City's midfield three. And yes, I'd kind of like to see Carl Jenkinson get a run out in place of Bacary Sagna, but, you know. (NB: I may be a bit crazy above. I need more coffee. What lineup would you like to see?)
Match prediction: I have a good feeling about this one. Granted, that feeling is that the Ox will bake everyone cookies for halftime, and they will be delicious, but hey, let nobody say that isn't a good thing.