Man City v Arsenal Preview By Tom Adams - Created on 25 Aug 2006 Arsenal travel to Eastlands to face Manchester City on Saturday, live on PremPlus, in a game that has been overshadowed by the ongoing recriminations after Ben Thatcher's disgraceful challenge on Pedro Mendes. City boss Stuart Pearce has refused to rule out the possibility of suspending the defender after his forearm smash sent Portsmouth's Mendes to hospital, with both The Football Association and Greater Manchester ester Police investigating the incident that has drawn fierce criticism from within the footballing community. Thatcher is therefore highly unlikely to take part against The Gunners, with City skipper Richard Dunne admitting that the storm surrounding the incident has proved an unwelcome distraction before Saturday's clash. Pearce's task already looked formidable, as Arsenal have never been beaten by City in The Premiership and claimed a double over their northern opponents last season, and his cause has not been helped by an injury to new goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson. The summer signing from Rennes will be out for three weeks, and potentially longer, as he needs minor surgery on an ankle complaint, meaning Nicky Weaver will continue in goal with Joe Hart on the bench. Italian striker Bernardo Corradi has returned from suspension after his debut sending off in the opening game of the season against Chelsea, but fellow new face Hatem Trabelsi, once a target for Gunners boss Wenger, has still not arrived in England due to visa problems. However, Sylvain Distin will be present to help marshal the City defence after deciding to turn down a move to Middlesbrough and see out the last year of his deal at Eastlands, whilst young star Micah Richards will be hoping to make another positive impression after being linked with a move to Highbury over the summer. Summer signing Dietmar Hamann is absent with a foot injury whilst knee problems mean striker Andy Cole is also in the treatment room. Although Arsenal have an exemplary record against Saturday's opponents, the game at Eastlands will be the first indication of whether Wenger has corrected the ghastly away form that inhibited The Gunners last season. The North London side lost nine games on the road last term, but their morale must currently be sky high after seeing Chelsea lose 2-1 to Middlesbrough at the same time they qualified for the UEFA Champions League. Theo Walcott provided another assist during a 15 minute cameo appearance against Dinamo Zagreb, and he should be afforded another chance to impress even if Wenger opts to keep him on the bench at first. Gunners captain Thierry Henry is, by his own admittance, some way short of match fitness, but City has proved a happy hunting ground for the club's all-time record scorer in the past and he should return to the starting line-up along with Gilberto after the duo were rested in midweek. One player currently not in favour is wantaway left back Ashley Cole, with the England international being frozen out of the first team picture in North London as he pursues a move to rivals Chelsea, so Justin Hoyte could well continue in the back four alongside Kolo Toure, Johan Djourou and Emmanuel Eboue. Both Jose Antonio Reyes and new signing Tomas Rosicky missed the Dinamo game due to groin problems, and if they fail to return for Saturday then Freddie Ljungberg and Alexander Hleb are likely to patrol the flanks again. German international Jens Lehmann, who picked up an award for being the best goalkeeper in last season's UEFA Champions League in Monaco on Thursday, was also absent in midweek due to a knee problem but he is expected to return to deny Manuel Almunia a rare chance to impress in The Premiership. Lauren (knee), Gael Clichy (foot), Philippe Senderos (shoulder) and Abou Diaby (ankle) are all long term absentees for Wenger as he looks to maintain his fine record against a soul-searching City side currently coping with the fall-out from Thatcher's indiscretion. http://home.skysports.com/article.aspx?hlid=412187&id=412187#articlepoll --------------------------------------------------------------- We look doomed for this season already. No point in even attempting a prediction - defeat is staring at us in the face.