Feb 012008

It’s a lunchtime kickoff away at Man City tomorrow, and with the hosts still unbeaten in the Premiership this season, anyone expecting a simple victory is very much mistaken.

That said, last season apart, when we lost this fixture to a Joey Barton penalty, we have an excellent record against City, and with their form dipping in line with Elano’s, three points can be taken. A lot will depend on Sagna, who will need to be at his best to stop Martin Petrov, who has been absolutely awesome since arriving in the summer.

The good news is that they still don’t have a striker, after Benjani’s move from Pompey fell through, but there is bad news in the shape of injury problems. Almunia has twisted his thumb and will miss out – all of a sudden Lehmann staying through the transfer window seems that bit better for us. Rosicky is also out with yet another groin issue, although this one should be short-lived, apparently.

Djourou and Van Persie are still out, so the only choices are between Eduardo and Bendtner, which the Croatian will probably win, and Diaby and Walcott. Diaby should get the nod after an impressive display against Newcastle in midweek.

Elsewhere, Wenger is surprisingly candid about how he came close to signing Cristiano Ronaldo five years ago, before he chose United:

“I knew about him, yes. We were very close. Manchester United had a partnership with Sporting Lisbon when Carlos Queiroz came in – that made the difference.”

“One day I will tell you more about that story and you will be surprised. You will have to ask him how close it was. He was here much earlier – he could tell you that if he wants.”

Interesting stuff. Much as Ronaldo is about as dislikable as footballers get, with his prancing around and ridiculously inflated ego, there is no doubt that he is a monster of a player, and while he wouldn’t exactly make a team more popular, he can’t do much worse than Eboue, for example. Had he been at any other club that Sporting Lisbon, it seems he may have been a Gooner by now.

But then I’m sure there are plenty of clubs out there who were close to signing some players who ended up joining us. In the world of impressive scouting networks, starlets (as Sky like to describe them) rarely come without competition.

Enjoy the game tomorrow.

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