City test could be a benchmark for Arsenal this afternoon

By Graham McNorthbank

Arsenal travel to Manchester this afternoon to play the richest club in the world.

Nothing new in that apart from the fact that we’re now talking about Citeh – and who would honestly have thought that would be the case a year ago?

The game will pit one of our most loyal former players Kolo Toure against his old comrades and also arguably our most disloyal player Emmanuel Adebayor, who is in fine goalscoring mood at the moment with three goals in four Premier League games.

It’s a big test for Citeh, as it marks the first time they will meet one of the established Big Four clubs since their mammoth spending spree this summer.

A home win could truly bolster their belief that they are capable of challenging for Champions League qualification.

A defeat won’t be the end to their aspirations but it could prove a true test in what the margins are between trying to buy a team compared to Arsene Wenger’s long term plans to grow one.

Both Robinho and Carlos Tevez look as though they’ll be watching from the sidelines along with Kompany and Santa Cruz, while there are also fitness doubts over Gunners playmakers Cesc Fabregas and Andrey Arshavin.

The bonus is that Tomas Rosicky may be in the starting line up, as could Eduardo, so we shouldn’t have too many excuses about fielding a weak side.

Citeh have yet to concede a goal this season, but with Dudu, Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner all maybe featuring for the Arsenal, I’m hoping that won’t be the case come five o’clock.

Those players should all know what Kolo Toure’s weak spots are too, so perhaps that knowledge can be put to good effect.

On the flip side Arsenal have yet to keep a clean sheet this season, but Wenger will be more determined than ever to see his team shut up shop and get all three points, so no doubt Thomas Vermaelen will have been schooled in the art of shutting down Adebayor by his new team mates.

Having lost to Man United a couple of weeks ago, it’s important to bounce back with a good result and personally speaking I reckon this is the most important game of the new campaign so far.

Losing to Alex Ferguson’s side is always hard to take, but they aren’t the current champions for nothing, so it’s not the biggest shock in the world.

However, I’m finding it difficult to imagine a second consecutive defeat in Mancland – and I can just imagine the headlines if that were to happen, so let’s hope Arsenal put in the performance we all know they’re capable of.

Man for man I reckon we have better players, except perhaps in the goalkeeping department.

We certainly have the better coach and tactician and we also have the belief, so I’m thinking we’ll nick it 3-1, with Adebayor scoring the obligatory goal that all former Gunners seem to notch against us.

Love him or hate him, Adebayor will be centre of attraction for obvious reasons and it’ll be interesting to see how the Arsenal players are with him on the pitch – if it’s true that he was the disruptive influence that he was rumoured to be, I wouldn’t expect too much back slapping.

However, the spat with Bendtner aside, I tend not to give any weight to those whispers and from what I’ve heard from within the club, he was genuinely liked among his fellow pros.

I’m out of the country at the moment, so I won’t be at the game, but if you’re going I’m sure you’ll let Ade-cool know you’re there and what your own thoughts are on his departure. Best of luck to him, I say.

Most players find out to their cost that the grass is not greener when they leave Arsene Wenger’s team.

Let’s hope that Emmanuel Adebayor becomes the latest in that long line this afternoon.