Man City, Arsenal Sweat On Key Players Fitness

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Manchester City host Arsenal in a Premier League title-race defining match at the Etihad on Sunday, but key players are facing a race to be fit in time for the contest.

With Arsenal leading Liverpool at the top of the standings on goal difference and City just a point further back, the game between City and Arsenal is a hotly-anticipated and crucial contest.

However, coming off the back of an international break, there is selection uncertainty on both sides.

Man City’s defensive dilemmas

There was a double blow for City’s England defenders, with Kyle Walker and John Stones both forced off with injury while away with the Three Lions – both missed City training on Thursday as a result.

Walker limped off during the first half of Saturday’s defeat to Brazil with what was described as a tight hamstring, but it was later announced he would be having a scan and is rated 50-50 to face Arsenal.

Kyle Walker waits for treatment after picking up an injury during the international friendly against Brazil
Kyle Walker waits for treatment after picking up an injury during the international friendly against Brazil

Stones’ situation also remains unclear. After Tuesday’s draw against Belgium, England boss Southgate suggested it was an adductor issue in his groin but the City defender didn’t look comfortable when he had to make way just nine minutes into the game. He later told Sky Sports News he was not sure if he would be fit to face Arsenal.

Another issue in that backline is the fitness of Manuel Akanji, who had to withdraw from Switzerland’s squad with a knock, but has since been pictured as part of City’s training group.

Manchester City’s other standout star, Kevin De Bruyne, is also likely to be back. He wasn’t called up by Belgium but could return after a fortnight of recovery, having sat out of City’s FA Cup action.

Argentina’s Julian Alvarez played Costa Rica in Los Angeles in the early hours of Wednesday morning so will have a delayed return to City training, while Matheus Nunes, who was on the scoresheet for Portugal against Sweden, missed their second game with suggestions he had hurt his ankle.

How do Arsenal look?

Arsenal have key men needing to prove their fitness before heading to City. Bukayo Saka withdrew from the England squad as a precaution at the end of last week with a minor muscle problem in his hamstring. It will be hoped he can get back into shape for Sunday.

Centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes was also withdrawn from his national team squad as a precaution, with inflammation in the Brazilian’s Achilles a concern.

Gabriel Magalhaes celebrates after scoring Arsenal’s opening goal against Crystal Palace

Gabriel Martinelli also missed out on playing for Brazil with the cut on his foot he suffered at Sheffield United.

However, there was positive news during the break, with Takehiro Tomiyasu and Thomas Partey featuring in a behind closed doors friendly so could be in contention.

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