Former Manchester City crowd idol Ali Benarbia says the Blues must ‘fight like a pack of dogs’ against Arsenal and show a meaner side.
City fans recall Benarbia’s stay from 2001 to 2003 with great reverence and many believe he was one of the best midfielders the Club has ever had.
He will attend Sunday’s game and two of his children will be City mascots – the brilliant Algerian has remained close to the Blues since his departure and rates his two seasons at Maine Road among the best of his career.
Now a pundit on French TV, he said: "I think the only way to win this game is to fight hard from start to finish and if we lose the ball, fight like eleven dogs to get it back – we are at home and that should mean everything.
“We are good football team with good players, but we need to show a different side on Sunday and forget about being a nice team. We can’t afford to start this run of games around Christmas the wrong way.”
With injuries and suspensions hitting the Blues over the past few weeks, Benarbia believes the players may be a little jaded at the moment.
He said: “I think City are looking a little tired at the moment, physically and mentally as they adapt to Pep Guardiola’s style.
“The players need a boost because I think if we lose against Arsenal, it will be very difficult to win the title because Chelsea keep winning games. Winning against Watford was very important.
“To keep your imagination and creativity strong, you need to be fresh - it's very difficult to balance both the Premier League and Champions League without a large squad.
“This is the start of a crucial period for City over the Christmas period. We have to treat this game with Arsenal as a cup final – and this is a final I think because it is so important that we don’t lose. If we do, it will be hard to keep the spirits up over the festive programme.
“We can definitely win, but it is a huge game.”