Preview: Manchester City v Arsenal

Another big test for City arrives at Eastlands in the shape of Arsenal. Whether Adebayor is in the starting eleven to welcome them is a legitimate question following his excellent hat-trick on Thursday.

Chances are Roberto Mancini will pack the midfield and revert to a line-up similar to that which defeated Chelsea. That means Yaya Toure, de Jong and Barry providing the muscle in midfield.

James Milner’s dilligent work for the team should see him start, even though his recent creative work has been indifferent. David Silva, on the other hand, is beginning to sparkle and is likely to provide the ammunition for Tevez.

Once again we’ll be looking to the captain for goals, though this time we could have Mario Balotelli on the bench alongside the newly confident Adebayor. After barely a week’s full training, it’s questionable how fit the Italian is. No doubt Adebayor will be bursting to get on and score against his former employers.

With Kolo Toure still injured, Lescott is likely to partner Kompany once again. Greater concern will be the full-back positions where Bridge and Boateng are the likely starters, despite neither showing great form defensively.

No doubt we will be looking to keep it tight at the back and it will interesting to see whether Boateng’s long passing can free Tevez and co on the counter attack. Arsenal have been typically vulnerable as Chelsea demonstrated with a recent victory based on breakaway goals.

The passing and movement of David Silva could be another key to finding openings, just as we saw against Lech Poznan. It will then be a case of taking the chances when they come along, as we did against Blackpool.

Fabregas is back and it was no coincidence that the Gunners were at their attacking best with a 5-1 victory in the Champions League on Tuesday. The returning Walcott is likely to be on the bench while Samir Nasri has been particularly dangerous in their fluid midfield this season.

David Silva:

“Cesc and I get on very well, we are good friends. We played together in the Under-17 team for Spain and from then on we have been close.

“We talk and text each other. But I won’t be sending him any texts before the game, because I don’t want to tempt fate.”

Mancini appears to find it easier to set his team up for this kind of game. Instilling organisation and maintaining defensive shape are the things he does best. The 0-0 at the Emirates last season demonstrated his ability to park the bus and Wenger looked a little bemused at the final whistle.

To improve on that result we’ll need to show more adventure, and hopefully we will, with a chance to consolidate second place on offer. Having said that, a draw wouldn’t be a terrible result for either side, particularly after Tottenham dropped two points at home.

Blue Days line-up (4-2-3-1):
Boateng – Kompany – Lescott – Zabaleta
de Jong – Barry
Silva – Y Toure – Milner

Prediction: 3-1 to City.

Europa League verdict: Manchester City 3 Lech Poznan 1
Player ratings: Manchester City v Arsenal

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