World of Sport

Would City’s reserves beat Arsenal’s first team?

World of Sport

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Nasri's transfer from Arsenal to Manchester City gave a stark illustration of
the financial gulf between the two clubs.

Arsenal unable to persuade the Frenchman to sign a new contract, City swooped
in with a megabucks deal that increased the pressure on Gunners' boss Arsene

Cesc Fabregas's departure, the question is no longer how Arsenal measure up to
City, but whether they are even better than City's second XI.

take a position-by-position look:

Goalkeeper: Wojciech Szczesny (youth team) v Costel Pantilimon

Arsenal have Poland's No.1 in goal, while City boast Romania's top man in
their reserves. Brought in on a season's loan from Politehnica Timisoara, the
24-year-old Pantilimon has impressed for his country but has not played in the
Premier League. Szczesny has beaten competition at Arsenal from Manuel Almunia
and Lukasz Fabianski.
Verdict: Szczesny

Right-back: Carl Jenkinson (£1m) v Pablo Zabaleta (£6.5m)

Nineteen-year-old Jenkinson, had played only handful of games for Charlton,
plus loan spells at Eastbourne and Welling United, before being thrust into a
vital Champions League tie. City's Argentine Zabaleta boasts a hard man
reputation - as shown by his flooring of boss Roberto Mancini in training
Verdict: Zabaleta

Centre-back: Thomas Vermaelen (£10m) v Dedryck Boyata (youth team)

Belgium captain Thomas Vermaelen missed almost all of last season through
injury after a stunning debut campaign with the Gunners. Named vice-captain of
the club behind Robin van Persie following the departure of Cesc Fabregas. Boyata
has been at City since 2006 but has struggled to break into the first team.
Verdict: Vermaelen

Centre-back Johan Djourou (youth team) v Stefan Savic (£6m)

Djourou has been at Arsenal since he was 15 but his development has been
hindered by a succession of injuries. Montenegro international Savic is a new
signing at City and has already made his debut. The 20-year-old was an Arsenal
target before plumping for a move to Manchester.
Verdict: Savic

Left-back: Bacary Sagna (£6m) v Gael Clichy (£7m)

France international Bacary Sagna is a striking figure upon the pitch thanks
to his blond locks, but his game equally catches the eye as he marauds down the
flank.  He was played out of position on
the left last night. Clichy left the Emirates for City in the summer, and while
he can be error-prone he offers plenty of attacking thrust.

Verdict: Clichy (as a left-back)

Central midfield: Alex Song (£1m) v Gareth Barry (£12m)

In 2009 Song began to help fill the void left by Patrick Vieira in 2005. Though
a fine holding player who has several attacking strings to his bow, he is not
quite as complete a player as the Frenchman. Barry has his critics and could
lose his place to Samir Nasri - but the England midfielder remains a solid central
Verdict: Barry

Central midfield: Emmanuel Frimpong (youth team) v James Milner

Frimpong burst on to the scene when he was sent off on his debut against
Liverpool. Beforehand his boundless energy in midfield had seemed to suggest a
star of the future. James Milner has converted from a winger to a central
player and works hard, but his lack of flair disadvantages him against the
likes of Nasri and David Silva.
Verdict: Milner

Right wing: Theo Walcott (£9m) v Shaun Wright-Phillips (£9m)

The pacy livewire Walcott is a frustratingly inconsistent player, and showed
the good and bad sides of his game against Udinese, eventually scoring a fine
goal. Wright-Phillips was surprisingly taken to the World Cup at Walcott's expense,
but few among even City's hardcore supporters would now claim he is a superior
Verdict: Walcott

Left wing: Gervinho (£10.5m) v Adam Johnson (£7m)

arrived in North London with a big reputation following his role in Lille's
French title-winning campaign last season, but he was sent off on his debut for
slapping Joey Barton. Johnson's direct dribbling and flair make him a fans'
favourite, but his lack of appetite for defensive work has seen him sidelined
by Roberto Mancini.
Verdict: Gervinho (if he settles in)

Attacking midfield: Aaron Ramsey (£5m) v Mario Balotelli (£24m)

played as the furthest forward of a midfield trio, while Balotelli operates as
more of a genuine front man. The Wales captain (aged just 20) is a cultured
passer but lacks the penetration of the departed Cesc Fabregas. For all Balotelli's
temper and off-the-pitch antics, he is a special talent who has a big future
ahead of him.
Verdict: Balotelli

Striker: Robin van Persie (£3m) v Carlos Tevez (£25m)

new captain is one of the Premier League's most deadly strikers when not
hobbled by injury. Last night's goal was his 24th of the calendar year. Tevez
has long stated his desire to leave City, but a lack of takers leaves him
languishing on the bench. The Argentine's power and technique make him a
formidable force - when he fancies it.
Verdict: Tevez

Overall: Arsenal 4-7 Man City reserves

Total cost: Arsenal £45.5m-£122.5m Man City reserves

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City first XI:
Joe Hart, Micah Richards, Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott,
Aleksandar Kolarov, Nigel De Jong, Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri, David Silva, Edin
Dzeko, Sergio Aguero.

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