So, Portsmouth failed to do us any favours midweek, so United go back top and we need to keep winning. A result here takes us top for a minimum of two hours, before Spurs roll over and die at White Hart Lane against United. ‘tis as inevitable as the changing of the seasons. I’d take a Tottenham victory though. Horrific thing to say, I know, but it’d wind up the United fans, which is always funny, and if it helps us to win the league, then we get to shove that down both sets of fans’ throats, rather than just getting to mock Spurs for losing to United, like they do twice every season. Let’s say a draw, with lots of a red cards and a long term injury to Ronaldo as a happy compromise, shall we? If Tottenham decide not to roll over and die, then there’s a chance they can nick a result against United, so we need to win to make sure full advantage is taken if they do. I mean, Ronaldo can’t score two goals a game every game for the rest of the season, can he? At some point, he’ll actually miss, the other players won’t be used to not relying on him and not really be sure what to do, and they will slip up. We just need to be patient though.
City’s last league win came on the 2nd of January, since then they’ve not been in great form. In their last fourteen games in all competitions, they’ve won three, drawn seven and lost four. They’re still in a UEFA Cup spot at the moment though, which they’ll be looking to hold on to. They’ve been strong at home this season, in the league they’ve won nine and drawn three, and their one loss at the City of Manchester Stadium in any competition this season came in the Carling Cup against Spurs. They’re not a bad side, and I hope it’s the sort of open game that we can do well in on a big pitch. We also need a favour of them next weekend, when they take on Manchester United at Old Trafford. I doubt they’ll manage it, but we can always hope. A fair chunk of our squad will sod off for completely unnecessary international friendlys in the midweek between this game and the Blackburn game.
Manchester City have been probably our favourite team to play under Arsene. In fourteen meetings in all competitions since he’s been our manager, we’ve won twelve, drawn one and lost one, the loss coming at the City of Manchester Stadium last season. We used to score about five goals against them every game when they had Keegan as the manager. Now we seem to have that to look forward to with Newcastle, but City under Sven might be a different proposition.
Djourou, van Persie and Denilson are out for a few more weeks, probably. Although, Robin is back in training, Arsene surely won’t make the same mistake for the third time of starting him too soon. Rosicky misses out, even though his injury sustained against Newcastle was, according to Arsene, a matter of days rather than weeks, so he should be back by the Blackburn game. Walcott/Diaby will play in his place. Almunia has hurt his thumb, so Jens will start. Otherwise, I expect the same team that started against Newcastle to play.
Subs: Fabianski, Hoyte, Gilberto, Walcott, Bendtner.
City miss Danny Mills, Nery Castillo and Michael Johnson through injury. Their new signing Felipe Caicedo won’t be available for a week or so.
Update: Gilberto joins Almunia on the sidelines