KIERAN TRIPPIER believes City's tremendous team spirit will help the Boy Blues to overcome the formidable obstacle of Arsenal and reach the FA Youth Cup final for the second successive season.
The Young Gunners, who are at the City of Manchester Stadium tomorrow night for the first leg of an intriguing semi-final, were impressive 3-1 sixth-round winners of their sixth-round derby tie at Tottenham.
Cup holders City, by contrast, had to battle to get past feisty visitors Norwich, who missed a penalty as the Boy Blues held out for a slender win courtesy of striker Robbie Mak's decisive first-half goal.
Jack Wilshere, the star turn in a strong Arsenal line-up, has already played in the Champions League and manager Arsene Wenger has compared favourably the attacking midfielder's qualities to those of Cesc Fabregas.
But skipper Trippier, one of the City youngsters tipped for a first-team future, is convinced that the close-knit bond formed by a side brimming with local talent will play a key part in edging his team through.
He said: "Arsenal have different nationalities in their squad and I just don't think they can play with the same togetherness that we can. We've done so well this season because seven or eight of us have grown up together.
"We are all mates who play for each other and have for a long time. We've a lot of English lads and the foreign lads who have come in have settled in well. It's one of the reasons why we've not lost all season.
"I don't think Arsenal can match our team spirit, they'll play for themselves. I've played with Jack Wilshere for England and he's a good player technically, but he's only just 17 and he's still got a lot to learn."
Trippier was in the side that beat Chelsea last April to lift City's first Cup since 1986, and said: "This group is as good. We've scored loads of goals and we're in with a real good chance if we stick together as a team.
"Norwich was a scrappy game, we've played better. But Robbie's technique is so good, he's a great finisher with either foot."
The 3,000-plus quarter-final crowd against Norwich earned a salute from goal hero Mak for their "inspiration". Tickets for the semi-final are £4 for adults, £2 concessions (£5 on the day).