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Arsenal vs. Manchester City: Match Preview

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The Citizens come calling.

Laurence Griffiths

Arsenal vs. Manchester City
English Premier League
Saturday, September 13, 4.45AM PT/7.45 AM ET/12.45 PM BT
Emirates Stadium, London
US TV: NBC Sports Network | For worldwide listings check livesoccertv.com

Let's get this out of the way right now: the Community Shield win a month ago tells us nothing about this game. City sent out a weakened lineup, didn't play nearly as intensely as they do during the season, and while the scoreline was nice, it means nothing as far as tomorrow's game is concerned.

That said, Arsenal are in what, for them, passes as rude health - Giroud's of course out, and Aaron Ramsey's ankle faces a late fitness test today for which I hope it studied a lot, but Mikel Arteta and Kieran Gibbs are fit, and Mesut Özil, well, he's invisible in the physio room yet again. Bottler.

When you add all that to the exciting news that Arsenal have added Danny Welbeck since last they convened to kick a ball, I'm not sure how you look at this team and don't get really excited for what it can do. It's lethally fast, and if Welbeck can provide the finishing that most people believe he's capable of, wow, this gets tasty.  I'm putting Welbeck down for 20 goals this season, even upon Giroud's return.

Manchester City have had their usual strong start to the season, dispatching Newcastle and Liverpool by an aggregate score of 5-1, before wobbling a bit and losing to Stoke before the Interlull. Vincent Kompany has been passed fit to play, but Stevan Jovetic will miss the match with what noted medical expert Manuel Pellegrini called a "broken hamstring". Broken hamstring? People think Arsenal's medical staff is questionable. sheeeeeee-it. Anyway, he's out.

Arsenal's struggles against the top three teams in recent years are well known; at home, though, Arsenal played City to a 1-1 draw last season, and it does seem like Arsenal are better positioned, both teamwise and mentally, to not just overturn their poor record against the big boys but realize that they are, in fact, one of the big boys themselves. Wins over Crystal Palace are great, but now it's time to start winning against the Manchester Citys of the world.

If I were wearing a puffy jacket that doesn't zip right, this is what I'd do:
Szczesny; Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere; Sánchez, Özil, Cazorla; Welbeck