Arsenal out to silence City slickers – and Adebayor

Manchester City v Arsenal, Premier League, Eastlands, Sunday October 24, 4pm, Live on Sky Sports 1

MANCHESTER City may have been ruled out as title contenders by many observers at the start of the season, but even the most sceptical are starting to think they might just have a chance.

Sitting two points behind leaders Chelsea, having already beaten the champions 1-0 last month, is probably more than even Roberto Mancini dreamed of while he was assembling his costly squad in the summer.

City have beaten the big sides like Chelsea and Liverpool (3-0, also at Eastlands in August) and also the so-called small ones, with Sunday’s scrappy 3-2 win at Blackpool a case in point. Their only blemish is a 1-0 defeat to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

But at home they have looked fairly impregnable, with only Blackburn leaving with anything, a point from a 1-1 draw in mid-September.

The Gunners do not have happy memories of Eastlands from last season, where they were beaten twice, 4-2 in the league, a result almost forgotten amid the furore of Emmanuel Adebayor’s goal celebration, and then 3-0 in the Carling Cup quarter-final.

Adebayor will be expected to lead the line again on Sunday, with City likely to stick to the 4-3-3 formation that also features Carlos Tevez and either Adam Johnson or the �26m Spaniard David Silva.

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Former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira will have to settle for a place on the bench, with Mancini preferring the central trio of Nigel de Jong, James Milner and Gareth Barry to do the skirmishing in the middle of the park.

Yaya Toure missed the win at Blackpool with a knee problem, while his brother and former Arsenal stalwart Kolo Toure also did not feature at Bloomfield Road, where Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany were the centre-back pairing.

Wayne Bridge and the powerful German Jerome Boateng will be given the task of shackling Arsenal’s wide men, while England’s new No1 Joe Hart will be in goal.

City will be desperate to add the Gunners to their list of scalps this season and keep pace with Chelsea and Arsenal will have to be at their best to deny them. A point, at best.

Prediction: City 1 Arsenal 1