We face a tough test tomorrow as we travel to the City of Manchester Stadium to face second placed Man City. Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor are both likely to face their former club – I wonder which player’s appearance is more keenly anticipated? Toure is a slight doubt, but I think he’ll make it. Mario Balotelli and Aleksandr Kolarov both look set to miss the match, but other than that City don’t really have any injury worries.
As for us, we’re still without van Persie, Ramsey, Vermaelen and Almunia – although the latter is probably more a blessing than a curse – and Koscielny is very doubtful too. Those injuries mean the defence is almost a certainty – Fabianski, Djourou, Squillaci and Clichy will definitely play, but whether Eboué or the returning Sagna will play at right back, I don’t know. I think Wenger might play Eboué at right wing for more defensive cover, as City have undone us on the counter in recent years. Jack Wilshere serves the first match of his three game suspension, so it’ll probably either be Diaby or Denilson playing alongside Alex Song, with Fabregas in front of them in “the hole” behind Chamakh, pulling the strings. It’s very unlikely to be Nasri or Rosicky playing deep, although Wenger might surprise us and play Fabregas deep, with one of the two aforementioned playmakers in Cesc’s usual role. Chamakh will almost definitely play up front, but the wide positions we can’t be sure of.
Whether Wenger will give Walcott a start, or maybe play Rosicky or Eboué on the right wing, we don’t know. As for the left side, Nasri and Arshavin will both be hoping to play on the flank, but it’ll probably be Arshavin, since he had a rest in midweek and should be less tired. The only thing I definitely don’t want is for Diaby to play. One or two times out of ten, he has a good game, but we can’t really risk playing him because he’ll most likely have a poor game and be more of a hindrance to our play than a help. I’d much rather we play Denilson, whose play is tidy and assured. He doesn’t go forward too much, which should help us with counter-attacks if he plays. However, I can’t see Wenger picking him over Diaby.
In my opinion, this game depends on Fabregas. If he plays well – and if City don’t stop him from playing well – I think we’ve got a great chance of all 3 points. If they manage to freeze him out of the game, I can’t see us winning. Sadly, with Yaya Toure, Nigel de Jong and Gareth Barry likely to be their midfield…. I’m not sure we’ve got much of a chance of breaking them down. We’ll definitely need Arshavin (or Nasri) to be on form on the left wing, and for Chamakh not to go missing like he sort of did against Chelsea.
As well as that, we’ll definitely need Fabianski to continue his good form. With Tevez brimming with confidence, and Adebayor probably the same after his hat-trick against some shitty Polish team nobody’s heard of, he’ll need to be at his best to keep them out. Speaking of the Lech Poznan team, even though I’m informed that they’re struggling in the Polish relegation zone right now, they could have come back from 2-0 down to 2-2 in the second half, but one of their players blasted over with only Joe Hart to beat. City’s mindset will doubtless be a whole lot different though, so I suppose it doesn’t really mean anything.
Come on you Gunners!