Arsenal v Man City: not a title decider, say fans

Manchester City's trip to Arsenal on Monday is being billed as a clash between the two teams most capable of lifting the Premier League title.

With five goals in his last three games, Olivier Giroud is currently on top of his game.   -  REUTERS

Monday night’s crucial game at the Emirates between Arsenal and Manchester City is possibly the first head-to-head between the season’s title challengers, even though both sets of fans are dismissing the narrative.

Despite Leicester City’s 3-2 win at Everton guaranteeing them top spot on Christmas, sceptics doubt their stay on top of the summit. And with the usual suspects Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea worlds away from challenging for the title, Arsenal and City remain firm favourites to fight it out over the course of the remainder of the season.

“We wouldn’t call this a title showdown, however this is a very important game especially during the festive period. A win would certainly boost the team’s morale and prove all the doubters wrong,” feels Rohit Srinivasan, an Arsenal fan based in Chennai.

Shreyas Sanghvi, Manchester City fan from Mumbai, echoes the sentiment. “Crucial game, no doubt. But at this stage, it is not a title showdown yet. No game in the first half of the season is a title decider. I feel the game will end 1-1. City don’t look like keeping a clean sheet without Kompany,” he said.

Sanghvi is part of Manchester City India Fans, a Facebook page dedicated to the club’s fans in the country, and is also the founder of >www.mcfcindia.com.

This rollercoaster of a season has produced quite a few surprises but none quite like current leaders Leicester and champions Chelsea, who are hovering in the vicinity of the relegation zone.

“This is certainly our best chance to win the title and I can even go far enough to say that it is ours to lose. Leicester are in incredible form right now but I do not think that they can go the distance given their squad depth and inexperience in handling the pressure of a title challenge,” feels Vignesh Dhandapani, another Chennai-based Gooner.

Sanghvi, who picked out Chelsea as City’s main title rival at the start of the campaign, also feels the poor form of the peers make it a narrower battle for the title. “The rivals’ form obviously makes it easier for us to go for the title. That club that was rock bottom at 20th place last Christmas sits comfortably at the top this festive period. That's the beauty of the Premier League.”

With contrasting Champions League draws, both sets of fans have similar expectations from the campaign.

Vignesh: City have a real chance of making this champions league campaign a successful one. I expect them to at least reach the semis, if they get favourable draws. For us, however, it's once again a very difficult fixture but that will not stop us from hoping for a good performance against the best team in the world.

Sanghvi: I feel Arsenal will be eliminated against Barca. City will reach the quarters but will find it difficult to progress beyond that if we draw Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid.

Even though the mood in both camps is a bit pensive ahead of Monday’s game, it will now be up to the likes of Ozil, Ramsey, Giroud and Sanchez (if fit) from the home side and Silva, Aguero (if fit), Kevin de Bruyne for the travellers to step up to the plate. And with the league reaching the business end of the season and Leicester City sitting atop the table unopposed until Christmas, expect both teams to show signs of intent at the Emirates.

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