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Vardy and Benzema on City's radar?

Sergio Aguero scoring

Sergio Aguero scoring

Plenty to go at this morning with everything from Arsenal previews to Press reports linking City with moves for Karim Benzema and Jamie Vardy.

The January transfer window is, of course, less than a fortnight away from opening so expect more speculation in the coming days, particularly just before and after Christmas when the gossip cupboards are particularly bare.

We’ll begin with the Mirror’s snippet on Benzema – and with City short of striking options at times this campaign due to injuries, it’s not hard to see why top strikers are going to be linked with a move to the Etihad.

The report reads: “Chelsea and Manchester City are keeping tabs on Karim Benzema’s situation at Real Madrid, with him indicating a willingness to leave the Bernabeu next month.

“Benzema is a favourite of Florentino Perez, one of the main reasons Arsenal’s interest in the £23m striker was rebuffed in the summer, and the Real president is keen that he doesn’t leave.”

The story continues by claiming Benzema has been upset by what he perceives as a lack of support over recent allegations against him and the France star is keen to move away from Madrid.

Football Insider could be mischief-making by claiming City are considering a bid for Leicester’s Jamie Vardy.

An early frontrunner for the PFA Player of the Year, Vardy’s goals have helped propel the Foxes to a six-point lead over the Blues ahead of Monday’s trip to Arsenal and it’s highly unlikely they’d sell their prize asset.

Nonetheless, they write:” Manchester City are weighing up a January swoop for Jamie Vardy, Football Insider sources understand.

“City are closely monitoring the Premier League’s top scorer as they look at ways of beefing up their strike force in the winter window.

“Club chiefs, led by director of football Txiki Begiristain and manager Manuel Pellegrini, decided to rely on just two senior strikers this season in Sergio Aguero and Wilfried Bony after selling Edin Dzeko to Roma.

“But they are considering a re-think due to the injury problems that have kept Sergio Aguero out of 11 out of City’s last 14 matches and concerns about Wilfried Bony’s capacity to stretch top defenders.

“Vardy has been one of the key players in Leicester’s climb to the Premier League summit, striking 15 times in the competition this season to top the scoring charts.

“The 28-year-old wrote his name into the history books by scoring in a record 11 consecutive Premier League games for the east Midlands club and has been one of the outstanding players in the top flight this season.

“He is likely to be rated well beyond £20million by Leicester, who have said they will not sell any of their players in January.”

Moving on to more immediate matters and there’s plenty of big match build-up around to whet your appetite for Monday’s big game.

We’ll swerve the almost unanimous predictions of (mostly ex-Arsenal) pundits who reckon the Gunners will win and instead focus The Daily Mail’s story about Raheem Sterling.

Raheem Sterling

Though a more rhetoric story, it’s worth a quick read: “Sterling was never on Arsenal’s radar last summer, but Arsene Wenger still regrets not beating Liverpool to his signature as a teenager.

“Sterling cost around £500,000 on switching Queens Park Rangers for Merseyside, Manchester City spending £49million on the winger five years later.

“Arsenal’s finance structure meant any transfer for that amount so soon after signing Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid was unlikely.

“But it is not their lack of interest this year that irked Wenger.

‘We had many players on the flanks, but Sterling was at QPR - that’s where we should take the players,’ he said as Arsenal get ready to tend to the 21-year-old at close quarters tomorrow night at the Emirates.

‘We watched him but you miss obvious players. The history of every club is full of top players that you missed. At the time Liverpool were quicker.’”

Finally, The Independent claim tomorrow’s match will decide the title – even though we’re still only in December.

Whoever triumphs at the Emirates, it’s a bold prediction in such a topsy-turvy campaign but, here’s their reasoning: “Five months before the Premier League is due to climax, tomorrow night’s encounter between Arsenal and Manchester City seems decisive.

“Unless you believe Leicester are Nottingham Forest and this season will be 1977-78 revisited, these are the likeliest sides to win the League.

“For both managers, Chelsea’s disintegration and Manchester United’s stagnation represent a window of opportunity unlikely to reappear. Before,

“Arsenal had been denied by machines, the one that Jose Mourinho constructed at Stamford Bridge first time around and the relentlessness of Sir Alex Ferguson’s United.

“Now, all Arsène Wenger has to do to grasp the Premier League trophy for the first time in a dozen years is to overcome a Manchester City squad whose flakiness was displayed in defeats at Stoke and at home to West Ham, and a Leicester side who are astonished to be where they are.”

We’ll see! More build-up, gossip and suchlike tomorrow…

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