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Arsenal preview

Whilst performances so far this season have been professional - with the results reflective of this - our opponents in those games are those who we should be victorious against if we have designs on a succesful season.

This now changes with the visit of Arsenal (and the trip to United the following week) as these will be more of a measure of us as a side, and our potential for the remainder of the season. The pre-season reports of the demise of Arsenal certainly appear to have been misguided and from what I have seen of them, they look to be a threatening side and one that is more settled than in 2008/09.

It has the ingredients for a great game, but following an international break there are plenty of unknowns in terms of player fitness and how much a side will be in synch with each other.

Team wise, both sides will be missing key players. Carlos Tevez was ruled out earlier in the week and there are doubts over Robinho. Crucially for Arsenal though, Andrei Arshavin will be absent - a big blow given his form so far this season and the integral part he plays in the side. He will be harder to replace perhaps than Tevez will.

I would expect us to revert to a slightly less attacking looking line-up, with Bellamy coming in for Robinho (which could be made regardless of his fitness) and Nigel de Jong bolstering the midfield. Mark Hughes's pre-match comments could also be a clue as to how we will step up:
"I have done OK against Arsene's teams in the past. I know what they enjoy and what they don't. We will try and exploit that."
Importantly, this could also see Stephen Ireland given a more attacking licence than seen so far this season.

Of course, the sub-plot in the game is Toure and more importantly, Adebayor, facing their old club. Adebayor is likely to be a key player tomorrow. I have been mightily impressed with his play so far this season. A strong all-round player with a keen eye for goal, motivation will unlikely be an issue tomorrow and whilst Vermaalen has looked good for Arsenal, Adebayor will be a big test for him.

A win tomorrow would be a huge filip for us, and whilst only one game in what is a long season, what we would take from a victory would equally be as important as the three points.

Prediction: City 1 Arsenal 1.