Arsenal’s mission to get a first win at the Etihad in five seasons has been given a huge boost with the news that Samir Nasri will not be lining up for Manuel Pellegrini’s side on Sunday having picked up a calf injury which will keep him out for more than three weeks.
Nasri holds a place for Arsenal in this fixture having scored what became the winning goal in Arsenal’s last victory against City in Manchester, a three-nil trump in October 2010, and it was not going to be easy with him available for them even with the boos that would come from the away end.
He was one of those who was in devastating form in that 6 – 3 debacle last season, even scoring what would later be ruled out for offside, and without him on Sunday, there will be a little less in the City attack.
City’s best forward five usually involves Yaya Toure, David Silva as the spine Sergio Aguero, with Nasri and Navas providing more creativity and pace from wider areas and without two of what looks a dangerous five, an Arsenal defence not famous for firmness against top opposition may breathe easy.
It could be that Pellegrini uses the hardworking James Milner in the Frenchman’s absence and that would still be a strong looking team. Milner is not famous for his tricks and goals – he did not manage a single Premier League goal throughout 2014 – but he has scored a winning goal for City against Arsenal before, though it was at the Emirates. He will offer them both strength in midfield with some defensive cover, looking to check the movement of those who will be on the right of our attack.
Perhaps the player to benefit from Nasri’s absence would be Calum Chambers. He seems to be the 19-year old who will replace Debuchy at right back for the best part of the next three months. Chambers has not been very fortunate with clever players who seem to play with the ball glued to their feet – Montero, Hazard, Bojan. Though Nasri was not going to burst past him in a sprint, it would probably have been another difficult evening trying to stamp his authority in the game long term.
With his recent revelations about not wanting to follow United’s advice by “going to war” with Arsenal to push a move to Old Trafford, the former Marseille man appears to have picked the right game with which to begin his spell on the sidelines. The majority of Arsenal fans have had to forget the exciting beginning to his career at the Emirates, scoring within minutes of his debut against West Brom. Running off to City for the oil money was just without class; he’s saved himself some major booing.
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