It promises to be one of the most exciting days of the Premier League campaign and the highlight is Arsenal’s bid to become the first English side to take points of table-topping Manchester City at home all season.
Arsenal have made superb progress of late, to such an extent that they are the form team in the division heading into what ranks as the toughest test of all right now, their poor start recovered from with a run of seven victories in eight.
The points accumulated during that streak have lifted them to fifth and they can climb level with Chelsea this afternoon if they become the first visitors to triumph at the Etihad Stadium since Everton two days shy of a year ago.
Arsene Wenger is adamant that his men can defy odds of 4/1 on them returning to the capital with all three points and a fourth straight away league win secured, one of the previous three having come at another title hopeful in Chelsea.
He said: Their home form is absolutely exceptional and it is a massive test for us. If we play our best I think we can beat anybody. We can beat Manchester City.”
The 4/1 joint-favourite to break the deadlock isn’t Premier League top goalscorer Robin van Persie, a 5/1 shot, but Mario Balotelli, who has found the net eight times in five top-flight starts, and in four of his last five home league appearances.
English football’s most controversial character has hit the headlines once again ahead of the game, with wonderful rumours spreading that on Saturday night he dressed as Santa and drove around Manchester handing out money.
The greatest gift he could give his club’s fans is another win that increases their chances of spending Christmas Day on top of the tree, and they are 8/11 to defeat Arsenal.