Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.

Former Arsenal midfielder Stewart Robson will give his pre-match view and you can get his post-match verdict in our Talking Tactics feature on Arsenal Player.

Arsène Wenger and his side face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League on Sunday so, to find out more, we also asked broadcast journalist Ian Cheeseman for his thoughts and analysis.

Stewart Robson

"Manchester City won the Carling Cup game with a great counter-attack following an Arsenal corner a minute before. But they are vulnerable to balls cut back from the by-line and Arsenal have scored several goals in that way this season - especially when Gervinho and Theo Walcott get into those positions.

"With Aleksander Kolarov and Gael Clichy both unavailable, it’s vital that Arsenal get the best out of Walcott. His decision-making has vastly improved."

Scouting Report - Tactics

"It's normally a 4-2-3-1 formation. The two full backs are always important and he does tend to rotate them around a little bit. There are a few injury problems in that area though this week, so they will virtually pick themselves. The two central defenders remain fairly constant in Kompany and Lescott and then you've got Yaya Toure, who really is a crucial figure. Occasionally he'll rotate the other with Barry, De Jong and even Milner in the mix.

"There's the obvious array of 'sexy' attacking players in Silva, Aguero, Balotelli and Dzeko, who are always a threat of course. It's been pretty effective this season as you can see.

"I've been watching City as a fan and a journalist since the mid-1970s and I saw some of the golden era at the end of the 60s, into the 70s as well. This is as good as anything I've ever seen. They've been consistently good. Apart from letting a two-goal lead slip against Fulham I'd say they've been pretty much on top of their game every game.

"For the first 20 to 25 minutes at Chelsea I thought they were unbelievable, it was the best they'd played all season. They didn't score when they should have done and didn't get a penalty when they perhaps should have done, and if they'd have got one of them I think they would have gone over the hill and not been caught. It's a slip but they've had a near-perfect start.

"Everybody has stepped up their game this year and City are pulling everybody with them it seems.

"I actually think the full-back situation is one of the strong elements for City. Kolarov has a bit of an injury, Clichy is suspended and then they have Zabaleta and Richards left. Richards looks likely to be fit.

"But I always reserve the right to suggest that the manager does pull rabbits out of hats at times and does things we might not expect. He's also got Kolo Toure and Stefan Savic who he could use in that position too. Until that team sheet is handed out I wouldn't like to say for sure.

"I'd expect City to bounce back and I certainly wouldn't expect them to lose. Arsenal are a big threat, have gathered momentum and I am a big admirer of them. In fact I'd say Arsène Wenger has probably been the best manager in the Premier League over the last decade, without any question. I have a lot of affection for them and I think it will be a great footballing game - it can't be anything else.

"I would hope and expect that City will squeeze it by the odd goal."

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    15 Dec 2011