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Media City: Toure could be City's main man

KEY MAN: Martin Keown believes Yaya Toure could be crucial for City against Arsenal

KEY MAN: Martin Keown believes Yaya Toure could be crucial for City against Arsenal

One topic dominates the headlines this Sunday morning… it’s Man City v Arsenal.

In a potentially pivotal clash in the title race, the sides sitting in third and fourth place in the Premier League lock horns at the Etihad Stadium – and the footballing world are rubbing their hands in anticipation.

Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin has told press such encounters equally excite the players.

“I think it’s going to be what all footballers dream about,” he said.

“It’s a massive game. It’s going to be on every TV in the world as well, so hopefully we can give great pleasure to the fans and hopefully the result will go our way.”

Pundits across the country have been casting their predictions.

Martin Keown, writing for the Daily Mail, scribed: “City look much better when they play with a back four. It gives them a better platform from which to build. Both City and Arsenal will come bursting out of the traps but you feel this match will be won by the manager who creates the best platform for their side to attack.

“At the moment, you have to say that will be Arsenal.

Yaya Toure could be the man for this game. With Fernandinho suspended and Ilkay Gundogan injured, I would be tempted to start Toure in front of the back four.

“City have played some of their best football this season when they have set up with a deep-lying midfielder, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva either side with Nolito and Raheem Sterling on the wings.

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Kelechi Iheanacho did not feature against Watford but I would start him down the middle in this system against Arsenal.

Guardiola and Arsene Wenger have similar philosophies. This could be a very open game, but that is not what Arsenal will want.

“Wenger's side have played with more balance and steel this season and will try to keep it tight.

“This promises to be a cracker, but it is important Arsenal compete with City and do not sit off them.”

John Barnes told the Sport Review: “It’s a tough one for both teams.

“City haven’t really got that fluency and that relationship between attack and defence right at the moment.

“I think Arsenal could do well. It could be a very entertaining game because both teams are going to want to attack. Arsenal could get a decent result. I think it will be a draw.”

Mark Lawrenson stated: “Arsenal looked a little bit rocky dealing with set-pieces and crosses into the box during Tuesday's defeat by Everton.

“That's not to say City will try to do that against them, but it showed there are still ways of getting to the Gunners.

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“City's own defensive issues are well documented but they played with a four at the back against Watford and looked fairly comfortable for most of the game.

“Their next task is keeping out Arsenal's attack, which will be a lot more difficult.”

Ray Parlour echoed: “This is going to be a real test. They played really well up at Manchester City a few seasons ago. They’ve got players who can win games.

“Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez need to turn up. The midfield will be very important with Francis Coquelin and Sanchez. It is an opportunity with the players out for Manchester City. They’re missing key players so Arsenal could take advantage of.

“I think Arsenal can get a result up there.”

Meanwhile, a pinch of spice has been added to the fixture, as it’s claimed City are plotting a move for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Goal report: “The midfielder has just 18 months remaining on his contract, but Pep Guardiola's men could be willing to pay £25 million to sign him earlier.

“The 23-year-old's contract ends in 2018, but Guardiola may make his move as early as January as he looks to further shape his Man City side.

“The City boss will be without Ilkay Gundogan for the rest of the season due to a cruciate ligament injury, but Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may not be willing to sell the England international to a Premier League rival.”

That’s all for today. Stay tuned for more build-up, plus live coverage, reaction and match highlights, on ManCity.com. Share your thoughts on #cityvarsenal on Twitter with #cityview.

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