Football

Arsenal Vs Manchester City, Sat 24 Apr 2010

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Arsene Wenger has called on Arsenal fans and players alike not to target Emmanuel Adebayor when the controversial former Gunners striker returns to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini is confident the #25million summer signing has learnt the lessons of past mistakes and will keep the focus purely on the football against his old club.

Adebayor was handed a three-match ban for raking his studs down the face of Arsenal forward Robin van Persie following an ill-advised goal celebration - an action which resulted in a suspended two-game sanction and a £25,000 fine from the Football Association - when he raced the full length of the field to slide right in front of the Gunners' supporters during the clash at Eastlands back in September.

Wenger, who plucked the now retired Togo striker from relative obscurity at Monaco during January 2006 and helped turn him into one of the hottest properties in Europe, believes all that should be left in the past.

The Arsenal boss said: "I am stubborn, but not stupid - sometimes in the heat of the moment you can do things that are not right.

"It is not only Adebayor, but also Patrick Vieira and Kolo Toure - we will welcome them all back.

"We have always had the same line of conduct - to respect what they have done for us and we want our fans to respect that as well and encourage our team.

"No matter what happened in the first game, it is important that we have a positive attitude and encourage our players.

"I believe more than ever we will need the crowd to be behind us. I expect everybody to behave well."

With first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Almunia again out with a wrist injury, Wenger looks set to give Lukasz Fabianski a chance to redeem himself after a glaring error gifted Wigan an equaliser.

Micah Richards insists Manchester City have no reason to fear Arsenal despite their abysmal away record against the Gunners.

Manager Mancini has set his side the target of winning three of their last four games to claim a Champions League slot, with Saturday's encounter at the Emirates Stadium appearing to be the most demanding.

Although it is the first time Mancini has led his charges into combat with Wenger's men, for City as a whole it is another trip to opponents they have not beaten on enemy territory since 1975.

Arsenal's recent move means City's record at the Emirates is not that bad in comparison to their hapless return at Highbury.

But it is something that needs to change if the Blues are not to concede an advantage to Tottenham, and let both Aston Villa and Liverpool back into the battle for fourth.

However, Richards, who is set to return from a knee injury, does not believe his team-mates have any need to feel inferior.

With two wins against Wenger's men under their belts already this term, the England international is in bullish mood.

"We have beaten them twice already this season, so why not again?" said Richards. "Arsenal will want revenge and they are a different team at home.

"At the Emirates they probably play the best football in Premier League but we can beat anyone on our day. As long as we are right, nothing else matters."

It would be easy to label defeat this weekend as catastrophic for City's Champions League hopes, but Mancini does not quite see it that way.

With Aston Villa to face next Saturday and then a potential winner-takes-all clash with Spurs to come on May 5 - both at Eastlands - before the final game of the season at West Ham, there is enough opportunity to make up lost ground.

Clearly though, the margin for error is slim.

"Liverpool and Aston Villa are very close now," Mancini said. "But we have four games to play, they have three each. There is a difference, and also Aston Villa meet us at home.

"We still have a good chance. We can afford to lose one from here to the end. It is important to remember that."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Topics:
Arsenal
Football
Manchester City
Premier League

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