As I said before the Madrid game, this week really is shit or bust. Should we fail to beat Arsenal today, then our destiny is completely out of our own hands – which a very worrying prospect indeed. The thought of United playing Champions League football at our expense next year makes me feel extremely unwell. I just want a win on Sunday so we can wash our hands of this awful season. Having said that though, I guess we now all know what it feels like to be an Arsenal fan – desperately hoping that another season of mediocrity and disappointment will come to an end.
However, despite the serious concerns surrounding our league position, today’s game will mark the end of an era for a number of City’s iconic recent stars. This will be the last time we’ll see the likes of Toure and Zabaleta at the Etihad, which is a dispiriting thought. Both have been wonderful servants to the club and are deserving of a rapturous send-off from the fans. It’s been sad to watch the pair’s regression over recent months, particularly Zabaleta – whose decline has been swift and unforgiving. But on a day like this, it is important to remember the wonderful moments that the pair have produced over the years, and the memories they have created.
Today’s match won’t just be the final chapter for many of our players though, it’ll also mark the end for Manuel Pellegrini, who will manage a City side for the final time at the Etihad. In all honesty, I can’t wait for Pep’s arrival and I’m sure I’m not alone in that sense, but today is the day to thank Pellegrini for the three trophies he delivered and send him on his way. A battering at the hands of Arsenal would spoil the swan-song though, but I’m sure the manager and the players are very much aware of that. A win today please, lads.
Kompany, Zabaleta, Kolarov and Silva are all sidelined with injuries, which is particular shame in Zabaleta’s case, as it would’ve been great to see him come on for the final 5/10 minutes of the match, but alas. There are also rumours that Samir Nasri will not be involved against his old club too, which would be a real blow. Nasri has been in good form since his return and has provided us with an excellent means of retaining the ball high-up the pitch.
The back five picks itself, no questions about that. So it’s a straight choice between Fernando and Yaya Toure as to who should partner Fernandinho in central midfield. Personally, I’d go for Fernando. Yaya was worryingly off the pace against Madrid in midweek, whilst Fernando has been one of our best performers over the last couple of months. But true to form, I think Pellegrini will go with Yaya – his trusted lieutenant.
Given Nasri’s supposed absence, I think Sterling will get the nod over Kelechi as I can’t imagine Pellegrini will go 4-4-2 for such an important game. I might be wrong, but I think it’ll be the three attacking midfielders behind Sergio Aguero – with Sterling on the left, De Bruyne central and Navas right.
Bearing all that in mind, here is the team I think Pellegrini will go with:
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