Arsenal v Manchester City, Premier League, April 24, 2010
“I told him [Emmanuel Adebayor] just to calm down and focus on the game because that’s the most important. If we start to be emotional that’s when we can drop some points. For us the most important thing is to win the game… I think it is going to be a great, great day for all of us because we are all looking forward to going back and playing against our old team. I think it is a great time to play against them because they have a few injured players and maybe we can come back with some points.” â€“ Kolo Toure.
â€œMy target is to win the next game. Manchester City and Spurs can still catch us, so we have to win at least one of our remaining games.” â€“ Arsene Wenger.
You canâ€™t blame â€œThe Professorâ€ for pinpointing this match as one his side need to win. Successive defeats to Spurs and Wigan have left Arsenal fans close to disillusionment and a home defeat at the hands of Manchester City and Emmanuel Adebayor would be hard to take.
Of course, Patrick Vieira and Kolo Toure also return to their former club but they will surely receive heart warming ovations from the home crowd. Vieira in particular can expect to be lauded as Thierry Henry recently was when he came on as a substitute for Barcelona. Adebayor though will be in for a torrid afternoon following the tumultuous afternoon in September that saw City emerge 4-2 winners and the Togo striker nearly cause a riot by celebrating in front of the Arsenal fans.
Manchester City have beaten Arsenal twice already this season, also in the Carling Cup in December and Roberto Manciniâ€™s side will be desperate for the points for their Champions League hopes. With Spurs playing earlier in the day at Manchester United, this appears to be another crucial day in deciding who finish fourth and book their place in Europeâ€™s premier competition.
Roberto Mancini is likely to have Micah Richards available and will hope his side show the attacking prowess that saw them score 14 goals in three games before their crushing last minute home defeat to Manchester United. Emmanuel Adebayor should be confident of scoring having claimed four goals in the last three games and Carlos Tevez, Craig Bellamy and Adam Johnson should all threaten a home defence likely to include veterans Sol Campbell and Mikel Silvestre.
Arsene Wenger should have Andrey Arshavin available and Robin van Persie will be pushing for a start after he was brought on way too late to make an impact against Wigan after changing the game against Spurs. The Dutch striker will also be eager for revenge after he was kicked in the head by that man Adebayor in September.
Much has been said about the mental strength of this Arsenal side and on Saturday they will have to rouse themselves for revenge on Adebayor and City as well as to lift the home crowd and show them there is much to look forward to next season.
Manuel Almunia missed the capitulation at Wigan with a â€œwrist injuryâ€ and City will fancy their chances if Lukasz Fabianski, nicknamed â€œFlappyhandskiâ€ since his error at the DW Stadium, is in the Arsenal goal. A number of players need to stand up and be counted for the home side and City may be good opponents in this respect as last week against United they seemed unsure how to deal with the game and the occasion.
On paper both sides look very evenly matched and with City needing the points this could be a real humdinger. But it would be a major surprise if Arsenal were to lose four matches in a row and the visit of a former legend and Adebayor may just get the blood boiling for the Gunners to show the form that saw them stay in the title race until April.
101gg predicts: Arsenal 3 â€“ Manchester City 2 (20.43)