By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Vincent Kompany has been ruled out of Manchester City’s showdown against Arsenal next Monday by Manuel Pellegrini.
The City manager revealed on Friday afternoon that the club captain has still not recovered from the calf injury that has kept him out for over a month.
It is a blow to the title favourites and a major boost to Arsenal ahead of the top-of-the-table Premier League clash at Emirates Stadium.
City have struggled to keep clean sheets in the absence of Kompany and were blown away by the attacking vigour of Liverpool and Stoke in their recent Premier League defeats when the Belgian was sidelined.
There is some good news for City with the return of nine-goal leading scorer Sergio Aguero after missing the team’s last four matches with a heel injury. Football Insider revealed on Wednesday morning that the Argentine was back in full training.
Speaking at his pre-match media conference on Friday, Pellegrini gave a team news update.
“Pablo Zabaleta continues without working – I hope next week he’ll start again,” the Chilean revealed. “Vincent Kompany, Fernando and Nasri are also out.
“Kun [Aguero] is working with the squad without problems. We’ll asses him to see if he’s 100 per cent to start the game but I think he’ll be in the squad on Monday.”
Asked when Kompany will be back in action, Pellegrini said: “Vincent is improving. I hope next week he’ll start working with the squad.”
Arsene Wenger rubbished suggestions that this could be a decisive game in the title race at his media conference on Thursday and his City counterpart echoed those sentiments 24 hours later.
Pellegrini explained: “It’s not a decisive game as after this we have to play 21 games more. It’s important to try to be the best team from the first round, to play against a team with one point more. It’s a game of six points, to win three and to take three off a rival.
“We must consider Leicester – they are still top of the table. United are just a few points behind us. Tottenham can be involved, so can Liverpool and Crystal Palace. It’s impossible just to think there are two teams involved in the title.
“We have to play five of the next six away. It’s a good target to return to clean sheets and to advance in positions. Playing away is always a bit more difficult.”