The Etihad Stadium looks set to host one of the most intriguing matches of the season so far as third comes up against fourth. Champions Manchester City are determined to bounce back from their late Champions League collapse at Real Madrid in midweek, while in-form Arsenal have racked up three wins on the bounce in all competitions, including impressive victories away at Liverpool and last week, at home to Southampton in a 6-1 drubbing.
Ex-Arsenal player Samir Nasri is set to miss out on facing his former club after failing to recover from the hamstring problem that caused him to limp off in the Bernabeu but City boss Roberto Mancini has confirmed that Sergio Aguero is fit to start alongside Carlos Tevez. Mancini also has a selection issue in central defence where he has a choice between new signing Matija Nastasic, who acquitted himself well against Madrid, or the more experienced Joleon Lescott.
For Arsenal, Sunday’s match provides the toughest test so far this season for their new-look team, which has looked slick in recent weeks. The Gunners were boosted this week by the long-awaited return to full training of Jack Wilshere and Emmanuel Frimpong, however both are unlikely to make an appearance.
Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has been ruled out for two to three weeks for the ankle injury that he sustained in the warm-up for last week’s match with Southampton and with number two Lukasz Fabianski also injured, Italian Vito Mannone will continue to deputise between the sticks.
Elsewhere, Arsene Wenger has to decide whether to recall Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who dropped the bench against Montpellier in mid-week, while he must also decide whether to persist with goal-shy Olivier Giroud up front or switch to the system that brought such joy against Southampton, with the in-form Gervinho as the lone striker.