Manchester City Vs. Arsenal, 2011 Premier League Week 16: Can Robin Van Persie Pile On City's Misery?

Robin van Persie of Arsenal looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium in London, England. Arsenal face Manchester City on Sunday, December 18, 2011. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Robin van Persie looks to continue his ridiculous run of form as Arsenal travels to the Ethiad Stadium to take on Manchester City.

On Monday against Chelsea, Manchester City had their unbeaten run ended. In the middle of a dead even game that looked like a draw all the way, Gael Clichy got himself sent off, gifting Chelsea an advantage that they would eventually capitalize on. City are still very much on top of the table and regarded as the best team in England by most, but they showed that they are very much beatable if they lose their heads. Arsenal have the best goal-scorer in England, and will be looking to repeat Chelsea's feat.

Arsenal were far from brilliant against Everton, but Robin van Persie's game winner was perhaps the goal of the season thus far. The assist from Alex Song was just as nice as the finish, and the goal was a microcosm of Arsenal's season. Arsenal have been poor at times, often failing to get the job done against teams they should beat easily, but Song and van Persie have always shown up. They are Arsenal's two consistently world class players, and they will again be the key men on Sunday.

Clichy is suspended and Aleksandar Kolarov is just recovering from injury. Neither has performed brilliantly in defense this season, so Theo Walcott will be a key player for Arsenal. Arsenal knows what they will be getting from Song, van Persie, Thomas Vermaelen and Wojciech Szczęsny, but Walcott is a wildcard. Occasionally, he is downright brilliant. Occasionally, he is downright embarrassing. There may not be a player in the world who can go from spectacular to horrific as quickly as Walcott. He will have opportunities to make an impact for his team on Sunday, but it's anyone's guess whether or not he will take them.

On the other end, Arsenal are decimated along the back and will likely play four true central defenders across their back line. None of these players are poor, but there's also no reason to predict that they will be able to fully contain City, the Premier League's leader in goals scored by a serious distance. If Arsenal are going to take points from this game, they will need goals, because they are unlikely to keep a clean sheet.

Manchester City vs. Arsenal

Game Date/Time: Sunday, Dec. 18, 11:00 a.m. ET, 4:00 p.m. local

Venue: Ethiad Stadium, Manchester, England

TV: FOX Soccer Channel (USA - English), FOX Deportes (USA - Spanish), Sky Sports 1 (UK), Rogers Sportsnet World (Canada)

For more on the two teams, check out Manchester City blog Bitter And Blue and Arsenal FC blog The Short Fuse.

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