Man City V Arsenal at Etihad Stadium - Match Preview

Last updated : 17 December 2011 By DSG

Roberto Mancini has warned his Manchester City players they must be on high alert to quell the threat of Robin van Persie when they face Arsenal on Sunday.

The Gunners striker is in outstanding form having scored 14 goals in his last 11 appearances.

That run has propelled the north London club up the Barclays Premier League table and they head to the Etihad Stadium to face the leaders having won seven in eight games.

City boss Mancini said: "We know that every game we could meet a top striker.

"In the last game we met (Didier) Drogba, and on Sunday Van Persie.

"We must work harder when you play against a top team with a top striker.

"Van Persie is an incredible player.

"At this moment he is very good, like Arsenal. At this moment they are playing very well."

City are looking to get back to winning ways after surrendering their unbeaten record in a 2-1 loss at Chelsea on Monday.

And for all their brilliance this season, they could even be second in the table come kick-off if Manchester United beat QPR earlier in the day.

Mancini said: "At the moment, us, United and maybe Tottenham are the three teams that can fight for the title.

"But the season is long. Chelsea, Arsenal and, maybe, Liverpool could also try.

"The season is hard. We have a lot of games to play in the next 40 days."

City swooped on Arsenal to sign one of their stars of last season, Samir Nasri, in August.

But the Frenchman has failed to command a regular starting spot in City's impressive side since his #24million switch from the Emirates Stadium.

The 24-year-old showed glimpses of his talent as he started four successive games recently but he was back on the bench at Stamford Bridge and Mancini is demanding more from him.

Mancini said: "In my opinion Nasri is a champion - a top, top player.

"I think he can do more but when you change teams you can have a problem.

"At this moment his confidence is maybe not very good because he didn't play against Chelsea but if he plays Sunday he has a chance to show us.

"I would like Nasri to play better, because he is a really good player."

Mancini feels now would be a good time for Nasri to step up with midfield linchpin Yaya Toure heading off to play in the African Nations Cup in January.

The Italian said: "We will lose an important player but I hope Samir can play more games at a higher level.

"He is a top player. Every game a player like that should contribute."

Meanwhile, van Persie has warned Manchester City the Gunners have their sights firmly set on the top of the Barclays Premier League.

The north London side have quickly climbed back to within striking distance of the top four following an appalling start to the campaign - and inflicting a second straight defeat on the high-flying Blues would reduce the gap on the summit down to just six points.

Van Persie - who has smashed 33 goals in 2011 - believes Arsenal must always aim for the top.

"We should have higher expectations every week, but for now because we have only played 15 games in the league we are not even halfway," Van Persie told Arsenal Player.

"I don't think it's clever to be excited by fourth, fifth, sixth or whatever. We still have to play many games.

"So many things can happen - you see that Spurs lost three points last week, Chelsea beat Manchester City.

"It is an open league and anything can happen.

"Lots of stuff will happen that is surprising so we have to make sure that we are on the good side and actually surprise people with our results."

Van Persie feels Arsenal have turned their season around through sheer hard work following a humiliating 8-2 defeat at Manchester United on August 28.

The Gunners skipper added: "Everybody had written us off to come back from something like that and weren't speaking positively about us.

"To bounce back from a period like that you can say that everybody earns some credit because we had to dig deep - trust me."

Arsenal showed their new-found resilience when they won 5-3 at Chelsea - where City lost 2-1 last Monday night, and Van Persie is looking forward to another challenge.

"It's going to be a big test but we have played against world-class sides before - nobody really expected us to beat Chelsea 5-3 away, but we did it," he said.

"I don't see why we can't surprise again. We're having a good run. Everybody is confident and believes in themselves. The spirit is as high as it can get."

Source: DSG

Source: DSG