Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Friday February 1 2008
The City Of Manchester Stadium
Arsenal go into a vital away game at Manchester City tomorrow knowing that a win will see them return to the top of the league, even if it is only for a couple of hours. If nothing else, it applies pressure to United, who travel to face Tottenham at White Hart Lane laterin the day.
It'll a battle of tacticians, a clash of minds, a war of witts. Arsene Wenger is one of the greatest minds in football, there's no doubt about that. But I think that Sven is greatly under-estimated as a manager in this country. He never failed to qualify England for a tournament, and took a team of egos to three quater-final's. As oppose to McClaren, who took England nowhere.
He's worked miracles at City, taking them to 6th in the league where they're just 2 points off 4th placed Everton. A team that did little to nothing in anything of note, is now in a European place in the league, and playing some good football. Of course, it's not just because of Sven, it's down to the millions he's been given to spend, but money doesn't gaurentee anything.
That said, Citeh's form has been poor of late. They've won only one of their last six league games, a 2-0 win over Newcastle, and that's hardley outstanding considering their recent form. Last six (league): P6 W1 D 4 L1.
Arsenal's form has been pretty good. They've won their last three games 3-0 and have won four of their last six.
Last six (league): P6 W4 D2 L0.
Despite their poor form, Citeh will give it their all and play the attacking football that Sven believes in.
I don't need to tell you that Arsene Wenger's team will play attacking football. If I do need to tell you, please stop reading. Now.
Sven spoke about his side's 1-1 draw with Derby in the week, and his hopes of grabbing that all-important fourth Champions League spot: 'There are 14 games remaining so we still have a chance to come fourth, hopefully.
'I think it [Wednesday's 1-1 draw at Derby] was a missed opportunity but I can't blame the players for that.
'You play good, you try to play good, you have the right spirit, you create chances and you don't let Derby create too many chances, I'm happy with that.'
Arsene Wenger wants his team to show consistency in the league, obviously...: 'The only thing you want is for your team to respond because it's a race where the consistency will be rewarded - and the strength of character.
'I just want to look at how well we can respond in every game because I know that kind of consistency and stamina in performances will be determinant.
'We're up for it [the City game] and we are on a good run in the Premier League and we want to keep that going.'
Felipe Caicedo will not get his City debut tomorrow, he's not expected to join his new team untill next week.
Elano should return to the starting line-up after starting on the bench on Wednesday. Micah Richards will also retun from a knee injury.
Daniel Sturridge and Darius Vassell should start up front again after partnering one another agaisnt Derby.
One of the finest midfielders in the Premiership this season in my opinion. He's scored some outstanding goals and has an eye for a pass. He is to City what Fabregas is to Arsenal.
Arsenal's injury list is growing at a time when we really could do without it. Toure, Eboure and Song are all still away on international duty.
Almunia has a problem with his thumb, so Jens Lehmann looks set to continue in goal after keeping a clean sheet against Newcastle.
The lad is on fire. There's not much more to say. He fights for everything. His performnce against Newcastle was out of this world. He scored one, set one up and stopped one at the other end. He'll be key to keeping Elano quiet.
You'll not believe this...I'm predicting a win! 2-1 Arsenal. Adebayor and Eduardo to get the goals that matter.
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Date:Friday February 1 2008
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