Aleks Kolarov is back in contention after recovering from injury, but Maicon and Micah Richards are both still sidelined. Kolo and Yaya Touré are away with the Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations, so the only real defensive dilemma for Roberto Mancini is whether Joleon Lescott or Matija Nastasic partners Vincent Kompany. I’d expect the latter to get the nod for his extra pace and mobility.
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With Samir Nasri still suspended, and Jack Rodwell injured, Javi Garcia ought to continue in central midfield. Mario Balotelli scored twice for the U21 side and has the lightning speed to trouble Arsenal’s backline, but Mancini is likely to continue with the front pairing of Carlos Tévez and Edin Dzeko.
Here is the side Mancini could select:
Referee: Mike Dean – He was in charge when Arsenal visited the Etihad earlier this season, and was also the man in the middle when City recently defeated Reading 1-0 thanks to Gareth Barry’s injury-time winner.
Prediction: Arsenal 1 – 1 MAN CITY – This fixture is known for its lack of goals and with the Blues missing some key players, Mancini may opt for a slightly more defensive style than usual. Goals to be scored by Olivier Giroud and James Milner.
William Hill have some excellent odds for this match: Javi Garcia, such a threat from set-pieces, is 17/1 to score the first goal, whilst it is a hugely tempting 15/2 that the final score will be 1-1.