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8pm: Arsenal vs Manchester City

Olivier Giroud
Giroud struck his 12th goal of the season to double Arsenal's lead. Getty Images

Full time: Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City

Arsenal see off a Yaya Toure-inspired late City comeback to go within two points of leaders Leicester City to enhance their bid for the Premier League title. The Gunners were brilliant for the first 70 minutes after Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud's goals, but once standards slipped Toure took control with a fine goal to half the deficit. Toure and Bony could have grabbed a late point but it is Arsene Wenger's side who take the spoils.

Well that is all we have time for as the final Premier League weekend before Christmas comes to an end./ we're back on Boxing Day for 10 games from the English top flight but until then goodbye and a very Merry Christmas.

Olivier Giroud down wasting a bit of time after a tackle from Nicolas Otamendi. Four added minutes are indicated by the fourth official but there will be some more I should think.

Toure exchanges passes with De Bruyne, who return ball in brilliantly paced, but the Ivorian can only poke wide of Cech's goal. Fine last few minutes in prospect here. Calum Chambers on for Theo Walcott meanwhile.

That Toure wonder-goal has totally changed this game and City are completely on top. De Bruyne takes a quick corner and when Toure fluffs the first effort, Bony reacts first but can only head over.

Aaron Ramsey again guilty of not increasingly Arsenal's lead. He lofts the ball wide when well place. City go again though and Bony's effort is deflected wide.

Goal: Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City (Yaya Toure)

Lifeline for Manchester City. They halve the deficit with a brilliantly worked effort, their first away from home in three months, as Toure works the ball well with Sagna before he arcs the ball beautifully into the top corner past Cech.

Jesus Navas spurns City's best opportunity. The Spaniard, who earlier replaced David Silva, goes free down the right and instead of going for goal decides to cut the ball back towards Bony where Arsenal defenders are waiting to mop up the danger.

Wilfried Bony makes his first real contribution with a goalbound header which is held by Cech. Fifteen minutes left and we're no closer to a City goal.

Manchester City have two penalty appeals in as many minutes. The first one looks like a genuine claim as Per Mertesacker takes down Raheem Sterling, before Yaya Toure goes to ground theatrically. Andre Marriner, who has had a good, quiet game, waves away both appeals.

Now Ozil can't reach a Monreal cross on the run. City hemorrhaging chances and showing no sign of getting one back themselves.

Aaron Ramsey with another chance to make it three and put the game beyond doubt but despite making space for a shot on his right foot he can only scoop high and wide.

A quarter of the game remaining and City are going nowhere. A Yaya Toure cross is behind Wilfried Bony and beyond a chasing Raheem Sterling, eventually rolling out of play.

Bony on for City for Aguero who had already left the field following the aforementioned aerial challenge.

Sergio Aguero floored after an aerial challenge and though he looks ok to continue it looks like his time is up on his comeback from a heel problem. Wilfried Bony being prepped.

Brilliant from Arsenal. Ozil and Campbell combine on the edge of the box and but for Aaron Ramsey's miss-control he would surely have made it three but Joe Hart was given a glimmer of hope and smothered the shot.

Joel Campbell breaks in behind and is denied by the outstretched leg of Joe Hart as Kolarov tried to get involved. Now Bellerin's cross is put behind by Otamendi with Giroud in the vicinity. Chances at both ends but the better of them going to the hosts.

Kolarov's free-kick finds Aguero whose glancing header is saved easily by Cech. How long with the sub-par Argentine last?

City have penned Arsenal in at the start of this second half but the hosts are surviving for now. Silva and Sterling are seeing a lot of the ball as you would expect but they're not getting through yet. There is even a chance for Arsenal as Monreal gets in behind and crosses, but Joel Campbell can't hit the target from eight yards.

Raheem Sterling has been warming up at half time and he is on for Manchester City for the second half in place of Fabian Delph. No other changes as the game resumes following the break. Big task facing City.

Half time: Arsenal 2-0 Manchester City

The Premier League title cannot be won tonight, but Arsenal are doing everything in their power to prove that they can be champions come the end of the campaign. It has been a perfect first half for the Gunners, who lead through Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud's goal - both assisted by Mesut Ozil - while Silva, De Bruyne and Aguero have been kept quiet at the other end. City have been blunt in attack and, at the crucial moment, lasklustre at the back. Long way back.

Goal: Arsenal 2-0 Manchester City (Olivier Giroud)

Arsenal grab a crucial second just seconds before half time. Eliaquim Mangala inexplicably gives the ball away with a terrible pass and when Ozil picks up the ball he feeds Giroud who nets his 12th of the season with a killer finish. City in real trouble of folding in north London again.

Sustained period of possession from City ends with a floated Yaya Toure effort bouncing out for a goal-kick. The visitors have faded slightly since the goal and with David Silva misplacing passes and Sergio Aguero ineffective, things have to change.

The Gunners are sensing blood and they almost double the lead. Koscielny flicks on Ozil's header in what looks like a planned move but De Bruyne hooks clear as Ramsey looks to close in at the back post.

Goal: Arsenal 1-0 Manchester City (Theo Walcott)

A goal out of absolutely nothing at the Emirates. Mesut Ozil plays the pass but it is all about Theo Walcott, who controls the ball, takes on touch to get it out of his feet and a third to thunder past Joe Hart into the corner from 19 yards. Fine goal and my goodness didn't we need that.

Just as a write that, City get free and should be ahead. Aguero leaves a raking past and is allows De Bruyne to scamper clear but he shoots wide of Cech's goal with Silva screaming for a pass which never came.

The game turns into a frenetic end-to-end affair for a minute or two, with Arsenal and City both launching attack which are each snuffed out in their infancy. Not a classic this, between two of the title challengers.

Kevin de Bruyne has at least confirmed himself the winner of social media tonight after he kicks the corner flag, instead of the ball, when attempting to take a corner from the right. Says much about the game that is very much the highlight.

We approach the mid-way point in the first half and we have our first effort on goal. Kevin de Bruyes cuts inside the lashes low and towards the near post where Cech gets down and turns the ball away.

Theo Walcott has been a peripheral figure so far and he gets involved for the first time when Otamendi clears the ball against him but the ball runs out for a goal kick. Neither team overly coherent in the opening 20 minutes.

Good work from City again, this time on the break and when Delph and Yaya Toure combine, Silva gets a sighter at goal but his effort is blocked and Arsenal escape. City much the better you would say.

Fernandinho the latest City play to take aim in the opening 10 minutes, but like Silva he fails to test Cech. Not a bad start from the visitors.

David Silva with the first shot of the evening. The Spaniard receives the ball 20 yards out, turns and lashed a shot which flies high and wide. Petr Cech needs one clean sheet to set a Premier League record tonight and he was barely troubled by that.

Problem for Fabian Delph early on. He comes out of a nothing challenge with Mesut Ozil limping and we wait to see if he comes through that early blow. Kervin de Bruyne has the first attacking foray of the game but he is denied by Koscielny.

City have not won away from home since September. Arsenal have not lost at home since August. Little doubt who the favourites are tonight.

Under way at The Emirates Stadium. This could be a (Christmas) cracker.

Players out at the Emirates, where they are met with a mosaic spelling out the word 'Together'. Not overly clear why at this stage, but it has assisted in build a great atmosphere in north London. If Arsenal star like they did against Manchester United, City would be vapourised.

I doubt there will be many surprises from an unchanged Arsenal, but what of Man City who have rung the changes for tonight's game. Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero's recall might be a no-brainer, and Aleksander Kolarov's reinstatement not a surprise but what of Fabian Delph. The England international makes his second Premier League start for the visitors on a left-hand side position ahead of Raheem Sterling in a real signal of intent from Manuel Pellegrini. The selection smacks of wanting to stop Arsenal, particularly the runs of Hector Bellerin down the right and the runs of Aaron Ramsey from deep. Whether it works is still to be seen.

Arsenal face south coast duo Southampton and Bournemouth before taking on Newcastle United around the festive and New Year period. Meanwhile for City, Sunderland, leaders Leicester and high flyers Watford follow for Pellegrini's men. A win tonight can set a real platform ahead of the remainder of the holiday season.

Arsene Wenger on Sky Sports: "There are one or two uncertainties but we have built up some belief and tactically we were alright [at Aston Villa] and that will be important tonight. It is about working with a great deal of solidarity because in the final third they can be deadly."

Among other things, tonight we get to see the best two creative midfielders in the Premier League go head-to-head as Mesut Ozil and David Silva do battle. Ozil has created more goals than any player in the top flight with 13 in 16 games, while Silva has six - despite having spent time out injured. The German is an assist machine while his Spanish counterpart can control any game at any level. Who will prevail?

Manuel Pellegrini on Sky Sports: "[Sergio Aguero] is not fit for 90 minutes but he does different things for our team and he makes runs. We will see how he does. I hope that he will return in a good way. He had two-and-a-half weeks that he couldn't work. I think the most important thing is who can have more possession of the ball. After that you must know what to do with the ball."

Leicester City are assured of being top of the Premier League at Christmas but tonight is the chance for Arsenal or Manchester City to be the most prevalent side in their rear-view mirror if they can win tonight. Victory for the Gunners will see them cut the gap to two points while City can go above the north Londoners and three points behind with a win of their own.

No changes for Arsenal from the win over Aston Villa which means that Alexis Sanchez misses out altogether. The Chilean is not even on the bench.

Manchester City make four changes with the headline being that Sergio Aguero returns after three weeks out. Kevin de Bruyne is back from the start, as is Fabian Delph.


Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Ksocielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Flamini; Walcott, Özil, Campbell; Giroud

Manchester City: Hart, Sagna, Otamendi, Mangala, Kolarov, Toure, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Silva, Delph, Aguero

Confirmed teams in the offing from the Emirates, but let's have a look at what we know about both sides before those line-ups are announced.

Arsenal could welcome back Alexis Sanchez and Mikel Arteta from respective hamstring and calf injuries. Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere are longer-term absentees.

Manchester City could call upon their own South American superstar in Sergio Aguero after a heel problem, but captain Vincent Kompany is unlikely to feature.

Christmas tree up. Presents brought. Family catered for. Your Christmas Day checklist may not be looking at rosy as some but you have to make space for a genuine festive cracker as the Premier League prepares to close down for the big day. Though Leicester may have something to say about it, the top flight's main two title contenders Arsenal and Manchester City clash in a pivotal meeting at The Emirates Stadium.

Arsene Wenger's side are still to properly convince they can challenge for a first title since 2004 while Manuel Pellegrini's Sergio Aguero-less team must learn to shine without their talisman striker. Team news and all the build-up ahead of Arsenal vs Man City on the way.