Football

CITY'S TITLE TO LOSE

Our analyst tells REDZWAN KAMARUDIN that the Citizens will end Gunners' title hopes at 
the Emirates

ARSENAL v MAN CITY

(Tomorrow, 1.30am, SingTel mio TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)

My money's on Manchester City to win the Premiership title.

When they travel to the Emirates Stadium tomorrow morning (Singapore time), they will kill off any remaining hopes the Gunners have of winning the title.

But I'm confident that Arsenal will secure fourth spot and end their long trophy drought by winning the FA Cup.

They have enough in them to hold off Everton, who are six points behind them with a game in hand, but Liverpool and Chelsea will finish second and third.

Hopefully, that will be enough to keep the fans happy, and save Arsene Wenger from getting the sack for at least another season.

Against Arsenal tomorrow morning, City will look to dictate the pace and score an early goal.

They know that the Gunnners are wounded and vulnerable after their 6-0 thumping by Chelsea last weekend and the 2-2 draw with Swansea in midweek.

And against big teams, Wenger's men always fall short.

They will look to their home fans for support but, at the end of the day, the likes of Edin Dzeko, David Silva and Yaya Toure will guarantee the three points for City.

With the odds stacked very much against them, the Gunners must believe that they can get something out of the game.

Paul Scholes said after Arsenal's 2-2 draw with Swansea that they lack leaders and discipline.

I don't think that's their main problem.

With a long injury list, the Gunners simply don't have the depth to get them through tough times.

They are fragile, and their faith gets broken too easily.

Like Liverpool, this is the first time in a long while that Arsenal are genuinely challenging for the league title.

SHATTERED

The difference between the two teams is that the Reds have Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge scoring goals for fun, while the spine of the Gunners' midfield has been shattered with Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Mesut Oezil and Aaron Ramsey out injured.

Rather than a lack of leadership, I think it's a lack of belief in the squad.

They were top of the league during Christmas but, with the loss of important players to injury and the loss of form for Olivier Giroud, they are now fighting for a top-four finish instead of top spot.

None of Wenger's fringe players has been able to step up to fill in for Ramsey, Walcott, Wilshere and Oezil.

City, on the other hand, have the strength in depth to last the distance in the title race.

The Citizens may still have to visit Anfield, so do Chelsea but, with the momentum Manuel Pellegrini's men have, I can't see anyone stopping them.

But I have to admit that at the start of this season, I didn't rate City.

If there's a turning point in their season, it was the 2-1 loss to Barcelona in the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16.

They matched one of the best teams in the world and, even though they went out 4-1 on aggregate, it was a coming-of-age performance.

They have grown from that match and, with the quality and depth of the squad, they can go all the way.

After the loss to Barcelona, City have won three in a row, scoring 10 goals and conceded none in the process.

Since a 1-0 defeat by Chelsea at the Etihad on Feb 8, they are unbeaten in six league matches.

That's championship form for me and there's nothing Arsenal can do to stop them in their tracks.

Dietmar Hamann has played for Bayern Munich, Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester City. He won the Bundesliga in 1994 and 1997, and the treble of the FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Cup with Liverpool in 2001, besides the Champions League in 2005. The ex-German international is the author of The Didi Man: My Love Affair With Liverpool.

Wenger hits back at Scholes

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has blasted comments from former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes, who claimed the Gunners were "a million miles away" from challenging for the Premier League title.

Arsenal tackle a rampant Manchester City side - who won 3-0 at Old Trafford in midweek - tomorrow morning (Singapore time), following the disappointment of conceding a late own-goal in a 2-2 draw against Swansea on Tuesday.

That match had seemed set to draw a line under the 6-0 humiliation at Chelsea which ruined Wenger's (above) 1,000th match in charge, with Arsenal coming from behind to lead with two quick second-half goals.

In his role as a TV pundit, Scholes launched a fierce attack on Arsenal under Wenger, claiming they had "midfield players with no discipline", adding that "there are no leaders" at the north London club.

INJURIES

Wenger, though, insists his squad - which have been hit by injuries to key men like Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey - have what it takes to compete with the best.

"If six points (from the top) is a million miles away, then I don't know what the translation from a mile into a point is," Wenger said.

"Everybody has opinions, people who have managed zero games have opinions and we have to accept that.

"What you live with is what you do on the pitch, and all the rest is only opinions.

"We are in a society where there are thousands of opinions every day, and some go for you and some go against you. You have to live with that.

"We have not given up (on the title), believe me, and we can show that on Saturday. It is our attitude that will decide that.

"Champions keep going when everybody else would give up. We have an opportunity to show that we have that mentality."

Former England international Scholes also questioned the development of Wilshere, who had yet to go onto the "next level".

Wenger, though, also rejected those claims.

The Gunners boss said: "You cannot say that - Wilshere is an exceptional player for me who has been handicapped by many injuries.

"Once he is back and consistently on the pitch, he will prove everybody wrong because he is an exceptional player - and Scholes knows that as well."

Beating City would boost Arsenal's flagging title hopes, and also put some distance back between themselves and fifth-placed Everton, who are six points behind and with a match in hand ahead of their showdown at Goodison Park next weekend.

Wenger said: "It is (a last chance to come back on the leaders), but I believe that we have to keep going despite the past two negative results.

"If people say that Everton can catch us, that means we can catch the teams above us as well because they play against each other.

"It is the next game that is of course very important, and the next game is of massive importance because it is City and they fight at the top.

"They are the favourites with Chelsea and Liverpool, but when you play one of the favourites, you have an opportunity to shorten the distance to them." - PA Sport.