‘Brides­maids’ to fight it out for 3rd

Le­ices­ter City’s shock vic­tory leaves Man City and Arse­nal pick­ing up the crumbs af­ter King Power Sta­dium cel­e­bra­tions

CityPress - - Sport - S’BUSISO MSELEKU sm­se­leku@city­press.co.za

It is dif­fi­cult to fathom as no one would have prog­nos­ti­cated that English soc­cer aris­to­crats Manch­ester City and Arse­nal would to­day be en­gaged in a dog­fight for third po­si­tion. But the fairy­tale run of an un­fan­cied side from the East Mid­lands, Le­ices­ter City, has con­jured up an un­likely sce­nario that finds the two giants play­ing brides­maids.

By the time The Cit­i­zens – dubbed Noisy Neigh­bours by that man­ager par ex­cel­lence, Sir Alex Fer­gu­son – and the Gun­ners meet at the hal­lowed Eti­had Sta­dium this af­ter­noon, The Foxes’ play­ers will be re­cov­er­ing from a hang­over in­duced by the party that was bound to fol­low yes­ter­day’s tro­phy pre­sen­ta­tion at the King Power Sta­dium.

So the ar­ray of stars such as Yaya Touré, Ser­gio Agüero, Joe Hart, Vincent Kom­pany and their team­mates will fight tooth and nail to en­sure that their club stays in touch to at least see Uefa Cham­pi­ons League ac­tion next sea­son.

Not an exit that man­ager Manuel Pel­le­grini would have liked or even en­vis­aged.

The Chilean is on his way out and is just warm­ing the seat for Span­ish men­tor Pep Guardi­ola who will take over in the new sea­son hav­ing al­ready put ink to pa­per.

At 64 points, Man City go into to­day’s home fix­ture trail­ing third-placed Arse­nal by three points. A win would see them catch up with the on and off, on again Arsène Wenger-led team.

Wenger him­self, is fac­ing demos of his own with many of The Gun­ners’ diehards hav­ing had to write and rewrite his epi­taph.

But the French­man has proved he has the prover­bial nine lives of a cat as his teams con­tinue to flat­ter to de­ceive sea­son af­ter sea­son.

A few games into this sea­son, those who swear by the red and white of Emi­rates Sta­dium, would have put down their last Pound that this was their club’s time to lift the ever elu­sive Premier­ship ti­tle. But now, the feel­ing of déjà vu is reign­ing supreme. Own­ers have stuck with Wenger through thick and thin and they might just have a point as the club’s long­est serv­ing man­ager, hav­ing come on board in 1996, is still the club’s most suc­cess­ful in terms of ma­jor ti­tles won.

Also, the club, founded in 1886, can hardly plead poverty, thanks to Wenger’s knack of qual­i­fy­ing for the Cham­pi­ons League year in and year out.

Once the ball is kicked from the cen­tre cir­cle, it will be up to the likes of Me­sut Özil, Alexis Sánchez, Danny Wel­beck and Petr Čech to en­sure that they main­tain what­ever in­tegrity of

PHOTO: STU­ART MAC­FAR­LANE / ARSE­NAL FC VIA GETTY IM­AGES PHOTO: DEAAN VIVIER

BAT­TLE Theo Wal­cott of Arse­nal and Kevin de Bruyne of Man City in a Bar­clays Premier League match at the Emi­rates Sta­dium in De­cem­ber. The two giants meet to­day at the Eti­had Sta­dium RIO BOUND? Irvette van Zyl is not sure if she has made the Olympic team

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