In many ways, Manchester City's match with Arsenal this Saturday lunchtime is the biggest game of the season so far.

It is the Premier League leaders versus the favourites for the title. The best team at home against the side that has accrued the most points away. 

A City win would confirm their status as the favourites. An Arsenal result and people will really start having to take the Gunners seriously as title contenders. It is that big a game. 

Here are five of the key battles, then, that could determine which side claim all three of those precious, precious points...


Ozil vs Fernandinho

Manchester City are good at home. Really good in fact. The only thing that trumps how good they are at home is how bad they've been away. 

One of the main reasons they are so good in front of their own crowd is because, generally, at home they remain unchallenged in midfield, making things pretty easy for Fernandinho.

Teams will generally sit deep and give City all the space in the world to cut them apart at the Etihad, whereas away from home players will get in their faces.

Against Arsenal, the Brazilian midfielder will have the best No.10 in the world to deal with in Mesut Ozil. He will be far more occupied than in any other game at home this season and how he copes with it should be interesting.

If the German gets the better of him, City will be overrun in midfield and Arsenal will dominate proceedings.

If Fernandinho wins the battle, then the Gunners' main attacking threat will be nullified, and Arsenal will struggle to create. 


Hart vs Szczesny

It has been widely reported that Joe Hart is set to receive a Premier League recall for this game. If it turns out to be true, then it is a big, big game for England's number one.

He will be extremely nervous, it is only natural. A stint out the limelight may have done him some good, but mistakes are no longer an option. Any error and, come January, his Manchester City career could well be over.

At the other end, Wojciech Szczesny has re-emerged as one of the finest keepers in the league this season after a difficult spell in recent times. He is another Gunner who has fully justified the faith that Wenger showed in him. 

But he is still capable of the odd (for want of a better word) 'Szczesny' moment - think the one-two with Daniel Sturridge against Liverpool, or the near-assist for Gonzalo Higuain at Napoli in midweek - and all concerned will be hoping that one of these mini-lapses doesn't one day prove to be too costly. 

A big day for both keepers.


Toure vs Flamini

The only time I am genuinely glad not to be a Premier League footballer is when I see Yaya Toure running at an opposition midfield or defence. It is a truly terrifiying sight on TV, I can only imagine what it must be like to be on the receiving end of it in real life.

After being used primarily as a holder at Barcelona, the Ivory Coast international has emerged as one of the finest attacking midfielders in the world. He simply has every asset at his disposal.

If you can stop Toure, you go some way to stopping Manchester City. But it is very much easier said than done.

Mathieu Flamini will be the man tasked with the job come Saturday, and he has as good a chance as anyone. The Frenchman has been Arsenal's unsung hero this season, and for all the work of Ozil and Ramsey, they would not be where they are without him. 

Considering the difference in size and physique between the two players, it will be fascinating to see how this particular battle ensues. 


Aguero vs Mertesacker

Per Mertesacker is yet another player to have proved his worth to Arsenal over the past year or so.

Once considered too slow for English football, the tall German has developed into one of the Premier League's finest centre-backs, forming a formidable partnership with Laurent Koscielny that has kept Thomas Vermaelen, the club captain, out of the team.

On Saturday, though, he has to deal with the threat of Sergio Aguero, one of the form strikers in the world.

The little Argentine menace possesses the kind of lightning pace and acceleration that would frighten any defender, and he will fancy his chances against Mertesacker.

And if he does get him one-on-one, there will only be one winner.


Giroud vs Kompany

Olivier Giroud is the glue that holds all of Arsenal's fine attacking play together. He may not be the most individually talented player, but his ability to hold the ball and link play is vital to his more creative team mates.

When he is nullified, the Gunners can struggle. It was no coincidence that Arsenal's worst display recently, the 1-0 loss to Manchester United, came when he was marked out of the game. 

Vincent Kompany will fancy his chances of doing just that. The best defender in the Premier League has only recently returned from injury but he should still be more of a match for Giroud. 

And if the Belgian can keep the Frenchman isolated, then it will be happy days for Manchester City.

Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU

DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Topics:
#Manchester City
#Premier League
#Arsenal
Flag article