TEAM NEWS: Arsenal vs. Manchester City

So today is the day of a crucial fixture, Arsenal at home to Manchester City in a game that is a must-win for both sides, despite it only being January.

The Gunners are desperate to try and keep up with Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League spots, while City have some serious ground to make up on rivals Manchester United if they are to retain their Premier League title.

The last time these two sides met at the Emirates Stadium, Mikel Arteta did this to win the game.

The Spaniard is expected to start the game today and will be hoping for a similar man-of-the-match performance that he gave in the 1-0 win over the champions last year in North London.

Arsenal are boosted by the news that Olivier Giroud is fit for the fixture, having been rated as 50/50 by manager Arsene Wenger a few days ago.

The striker tweeted on his official account: “Hello Le test s’est bien passé, je serai dans le groupe demain contre city ! Hi The test went ok. I’ll be in the team tomorrow vs city !

Despite having the Frenchman available, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was limited to a place on the bench, with Lukas Podolski coming into the side after his rest against Swansea City, and Theo Walcott starting up front.

Elsewhere, the game might have come just too soon for Abou Diaby, who played over an hour for the U-21’s during the on his return from injury. Somebody like Diaby would be hugely influential in a game like today, but I can’t see him being too involved.

The midfielder has been out since the end of September, so Francis Coquelin may be given the nod to do the holding role in the middle. However, I still expect Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Arteta to carry on as the trio.

Thankfully, Gervinho is away with the Ivory Coast of duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.

My expected Arsenal line-up: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla, Chamberlain, Podolski, Walcott.

It would not shock me to see Aaron Ramsey start in place of the Ox though.

City are rather more injury-hit than us and are missing several players.

Sergio Aguero is out injured, along with Micah Richards, Maicon and most likely Aleksandar Kolarov.

Like Gervinho, the Toure brothers are away with Ivory Coast, while former Gunner Samir Nasri is suspended following his red card last week.

Matt Cotton

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