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Crunch Time at the Top of the Table as Arsenal Face City

5/1/2011
Barclays Premier League hopefuls Arsenal and Manchester City lock horns for the second time this season tonight as the Gunners aim to complete an historic double on their wealthy title rivals at the Emirates.

Arsene Wenger’s men go into the game on the back of a decent run of form over the festive period that saw a 2-2 draw at Wigan sandwiched between promising wins at home to Chelsea and away to Birmingham.

Such was the magnitude of these two victories – one against a fellow title rival and one at a ground where the big teams have struggled this season – that critics have been forced to review their appraisal of the side’s title hopes.

However, should they lose tonight to a City side that have performed impeccably well against the top four this season then rest assured that the critics knives will be out again as Arsenal are left trailing their opponents by five points.

With the league table finely balanced with City in second on 41 points – albeit having played a game more than Arsenal – and the Gunners third on 39 points, it is a potentially massive game and one that the bookies are finding extremely hard to call.

Given that Arsene Wenger’s side are at home and face no fresh injury concerns it is not a surprise, therefore, that they have been named slight favourites at 5/6, while City, who will be without Mario Balotelli and David Silva, are being priced at 10/3.

As Roberto Mancini’s team have such a reputation for defensive stability through a combination of their two holding midfielders and the considerable barrier of Joe Hart in goal, the smart money may be on a draw at 13/5 or the 0-0 at an incredible 10/1.

However, should that be the result at the end of the ninety minutes, as satisfied as Mancini will be with a point, it will be the red half of Manchester who have the most to smile about given they will sit two points clear having played two games fewer.
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