How Manchester City should line-up against Arsenal

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When the winners of the Premier League are crowned next May, games between the big clubs may just be the deciding factor.

Last year's champions Manchester City have already claimed three points from eventual runners-up Liverpool this season, and they face another big challenge when they travel to Arsenal tomorrow.

With the club looking to recover from their shock defeat at the hands of Stoke, we look at how Manuel Pellegrini's team should line-up against the Gunners.

Injury concerns

We already know Pellegrini will have to cope without the services of tough-tackling midfielder Fernando after the former Porto man was ruled out for two weeks.

Joining him on the sidelines is striker Stevan Jovetic, who's City career continues to be defined by a series of injuries.

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Both players had started the club's first three Premier League fixtures, but their absence will force City to utitlise their strength in depth.

Compared to some of their title rivals, the Premier League champions had a relatively quiet summer in the transfer market but they continue to boast an impressive squad.

Possible debutants

With Fernando missing, a City debut could be granted to veteran midfielder Frank Lampard after Pellegrini confirmed the Chelsea legend would be included in his squad.

The prospect of seeing Lampard take to the Emirates pitch in a Man City shirt will send shivers down the spine of the Chelsea faithful still reeling at the loss of their all-time record goalscorer.

Another man who could make his maiden City appearance is French defender Eliaquim Mangala. The £32million summer signing could partner Vincent Kompany in central defence after Pellegrini revealed he, like Lampard, would be in the squad this weekend.

Heroes and Villains

Elsewhere in the City squad there will be a first return to the Emirates for Bacary Sagna after his summer move.

It's no secret Arsenal wanted him to stay in north London and it's unclear what kind of reception he'll get from the home fans.

One thing is for sure, Samir Nasri can expect his usual hostile greeting from Gunners fans should he feature.

Tactical decisions

With Jovetic unavailable, Pellegrini's major selection headache will be whether to start with one or two strikers.

Should he opt to start both Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero he'll be left without a senior striker on the bench, with the likes of Jesus Navas and Scott Sinclair responsible for providing attacking impetus from the bench.

Pellegrini's other option would be to deploy one of his attacking midfielders in support of a lone striker, ensuring he can call upon a genuine goalscorer from the bench if City find themselves behind.

So, while we don't have quite the same amount of managerial experience as the man known as 'The Professor', here's how we'd line up:

Man City predicted XI: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Mangala, Kolarov; Nasri, Lampard, Fernandinho, Silva; Toure; Aguero

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Frank Lampard
Premier League
Stevan Jovetic
Manchester City

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