Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil will be one of the many cynosures in the English Premier League game against Manchester City. Reuters
Arsenal play with extraordinary style, verve and panache that more often than not sets the mouth drooling in awe; they are arguably the best footballing side in the English Premier League, and on their day, like they showed in that glorious match against Napoli in the Champions League game at the Emirates, the best in Europe.
However, what gets lost amongst the did-you-see-that-pass-from-ozil-and-then-that-flick-from-Ramsey-before-the-goal is Arsenal's defensive solidity. The Gunners are at their best when they are solid at the back; because it allows the playmakers, a plethora of them there are, to play more freely.
Arsenal top the Premier League table at the moment, not just because of their attacking nous, but primarily thanks to their parsimonious back-four, which has let in only 11 goals all season - the least amongst the 20 top-flight clubs in England.
The league leaders, who also had the second-best defence in the Premier League last season, will be tested in that particular department to the maximum on Saturday, when they visit let's-score-goals-for-fun-at-home Manchester City.
While the blue half of Manchester might have had issues away from home, at the Etihad they have been nothing short of irresistible - attack, after attack, goals after goals - the kind of form which makes any visiting team sweat that little more in worry.
Intimidation is the name of the game when it comes to protecting your home turf, and while City's neighbours have struggled to do that season, Manuel Pellegrini and co. have excelled, and then some, staying perfect so far this campaign.
The last North London club to visit the Etihad, not too long ago, were thumped, mauled, battered, bruised and put through the wringer - the Gunners will not want to suffer the same consequence.
Manchester City thumped North London
side Tottenham recently. Reuters
Arsenal, who suffered a disappointing defeat to Napoli on Wednesday, will come to the Etihad with a wee amount of trepidation; having played two games in the week already, their preparation will not be ideal. Having said that, though, this Arsenal side have shown the stomach (kidney, liver and intestines) for a fight, and will be motivated to protect the five-point lead - six from City -- that they hold at the top at the moment.
Win at the Etihad and that lead will bulge to an I-cannot-believe-it eight points, leaving the rest of the chasing pack with pressure paramount.
For City, though, it is about tightening that we-are-here-to-win-the-title grip, and cutting that gap from Arsenal to just three points.
The last time Arsenal visited Manchester, it did not go too well for Arsene Wenger's men, losing 1-0 to United courtesy a goal from former favourite Robin Van Persie.
What was missing from that game was that attacking verve, with none of the these-guys-are-unbelievable playmakers doing even remotely enough to inflict a scratch, let alone a dent, on United.
That will not do against City; because going by their form, they will score, no matter how good Arsenal's defence is. The Gunners need to come out firing and holster those blanks that they brought to Old Trafford tightly, instead bringing out the big guns against the biggest gun of them all at home.
Team news: Manchester City: Manuel Pellegrini welcomes back reported summer Arsenal target Stevan Jovetic, who is back in training. Michah Richards, though, is ruled out after picking up an injury in the victory against Bayern Munich, while Matija Nastasic is expected to be out for a further week, with former Arsenal defender Gael Clichy a doubt.
Joe Hart was given the nod against Bayern, and it remains to be seen whether the England international will keep his place in the starting XI or make way for Costel Pantilimon.
Arsenal: Lukas Podolski might make the squad for the first time since late August, although Wenger hinted he might give the German a few more days before giving him a chance. Bacary Sagna is set to undergo a late test to assess his fitness, with Wenger hopeful the right-back will be good to go against City.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Yaya Sanogo and Abou Diaby remain ruled out.
Key men: Manchester City: Yaya Toure, after a rest against Bayern, will look to boss the game, while Samir Nasri, will be raring to go against his former side.
Arsenal: Santi Cazorla has had a bit of a disappointing season so far, by his own extremely high standards. Time might be nigh for the ridiculously talented playmaker to stamp his authority like he did in the Liverpool game.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 6.15 pm IST start with live coverage on Star Sports 4 and Star Sports HD2 in India. You can also catch all the action live online by clicking HERE. Viewers in the U.K. can live stream the match HERE. U.S. viewers click HERE. To catch the action in Australia, click HERE. To Live Stream the match in the Middle East and North Africa via live streaming, click HERE.
Expected lineups: Manchester City: Pantilimon; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov; Toure, Fernandinho; Silva, Aguero, Nasri; Negredo.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Flamini, Arteta; Ramsey, Ozil, Cazorla; Giroud.
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