Manchester City fans: Are you old enough to remember winning at Arsenal?
City have not won in N5 since 1975, but they head south again in expectation tonight
THERE is a joke about Manchester City fans, told by Manchester United fans, that if you are old enough to remember City’s trophy-winning days then you are probably too old to remember anything at all.
The same probably counts for City fans who remember the last time their side won at Arsenal – because it is an awfully long time ago. October 4, 1975 was the day the side managed by the legendary Tony Book won 3-2 at Highbury in the old Division One.
Since that day, the sky blue hordes have followed their side to Islington no fewer than 25 times, and never seen them win. Tonight they head south in expectation again.
On their last visit in April, Roberto Mancini seemed happy to play for a 0-0 against a weakened Arsenal, despite the fact that Tottenham were about to steal a march on them for the fourth and final Champions League place.
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Spurs took that spot by beating City at Eastlands a few weeks later, a result that could have seen Mancini’s reign end in ignominy, only for the club’s Abu Dhabi-based owners to decide that getting rid of a second manager in six months was a costly and perhaps not advisable practice.
Eight months later and the jury is still out on whether Mancini is doing a particularly good job with his vastly expensive squad, although the job is looking harder and harder by the week.
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The Carlos Tevez saga before Christmas only served to highlight the difficulties of managing the world’s richest club, even if it did appear to have some kind of happy ending for City fans.
But there is still immense pressure on Mancini to produce a top-four finish in the Premier League if his Manchester brief is to extend another season.
He is currently on track, with three wins out of three over Christmas putting City in second spot in the table, two points ahead of Arsenal, but having played a game more.
October’s 3-0 home defeat to the Gunners is still fresh in the memory, although there were mitigating circumstances after Dedryck Boyata’s fourth-minute red card left City a man down for almost the entire match.
There is a feeling among City fans that Arsenal made a little bit too much of that win, and that tonight’s rematch at the Emirates could be payback time.
History, however, is certainly on Arsenal’s side.
Prediction: Arsenal 2 Man City 1