Arse­nal hopes hinge on duo

CityPress - - Sport -

Arse­nal can ex­pect a stern test of their ti­tle cre­den­tials when fel­low hope­fuls Manch­ester City make the trip to the Emi­rates to­mor­row evening.

The Gun­ners are just two points off the pace set by sur­prise lead­ers Le­ices­ter City, while the Ci­ti­zens trail the sec­ond­placed Lon­don­ers by just one point.

How­ever, Arse­nal’s hopes of record­ing a pos­i­tive re­sult could hinge on the po­ten­tial avail­abil­ity of in­jured duo Alexis Sánchez and Mikel Arteta, who will face late fit­ness tests ahead of kick­off.

Sánchez has played a piv­otal role in Arse­nal’s im­pres­sive start to the cam­paign, bag­ging six goals and pro­vid­ing one as­sist be­fore suf­fer­ing a ham­string strain against Nor­wich last month.

The ab­sence of Arteta has not been as keenly felt, al­though his avail­abil­ity would be a wel­come fil­lip in the ab­sence of the in­jured Fran­cis Co­quelin.

Man­ager Arsène Wenger will be with­out the ser­vices of sev­eral other key play­ers in the shape of Santi Ca­zorla, Jack Wil­shere, Tomáš Rosický and Danny Wel­beck.

Joel Camp­bell is set to make his fifth con­sec­u­tive start for Arse­nal, while Theo Wal­cott will, in all like­li­hood, deputise for Sánchez if the Chile in­ter­na­tional fails a late fit­ness test.

Wenger told a press con­fer­ence this week: “We are quite far from the game, but at the mo­ment, ev­ery­body who played against As­ton Villa is avail­able for Mon­day night and there are one or two pos­si­ble come­backs.

“Maybe there is a very slight chance for Sánchez to be in the squad again, but it is too early to be sure about it. He’s run­ning, but not par­tic­i­pat­ing in full train­ing.”

City are not with­out in­jury prob­lems of their own though, with star striker Ser­gio Agüero hope­ful about mak­ing a re­turn to ac­tion.

The pro­lific Ar­gen­tinian front­man is back in full train­ing af­ter re­cov­er­ing from the heel in­jury that kept him on the side­lines for City’s past four fix­tures.

If he is fit to play, Agüero could be joined by two other key play­ers, with skip­per Vin­cent Kom­pany and full­back Pablo Za­baleta also fac­ing a race to be fit in time for to­mor­row’s en­counter. Arse­nal have lost just once in 18 Premier League games at home to Manch­ester City (W11, D6). Manch­ester City have not kept a sin­gle clean sheet in the eight games Vin­cent Kom­pany has missed this sea­son. Manch­ester City have recorded just this many wins in 89 at­tempts at the home of Arse­nal. Arse­nal have won this many times at home to Manch­ester City (59.5% win ra­tio). min­utes: Manch­ester City have gone more than three and a half games with­out scor­ing away from home in the Premier League.

PHOTO: PRESS AS­SO­CI­A­TION IM­AGES

TANGO Arse­nal's Alexis Sánchez (left) and Manch­ester City’s Jesús Navas bat­tle for the ball in a pre­vi­ous match be­tween the teams. Sánchez is a doubt­ful starter for to­mor­row’s clash

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