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PREVIEW: Perry Groves backs Arsenal to overcome Manchester City – and expects goals

PUBLISHED: 18:59 01 April 2017 | UPDATED: 19:30 01 April 2017

Perry Groves is expecting Arsenal v Manchester City to be an open game. Picture: John Phillips.

Perry Groves is expecting Arsenal v Manchester City to be an open game. Picture: John Phillips.

PA Archive/PA Images

Arsenal cult hero Perry Groves is backing the Gunners to overcome Manchester City in Sunday’s Premier League crunch game at the Emirates.

The Highbury wideman – who was George Graham’s first signing after taking charge – is convinced playing a talented team could be a blessing in disguise because of the way Pep Guardiola places a heavy emphasis on attack rather than defence.

The popular 51-year-old – who played 155 league games for Arsenal between 1986 and 1992 – believes the Catalan’s offensive strategy could play into Arsene Wenger’s hands.

Groves, who won 1989 and 1991 league title medals as Arsenal topped the table twice under the canny Graham, is relishing the contest and fully expects goals.

Speaking as part of Play With A Legend events he said: “It could be one of the games of the season – the reason being is that neither team can defend. It could finish 6-4 either way.

“Ironically the bad form we’re in at the moment – which is the worst run during Arsene Wenger’s tenure – does not necessarily mean we will struggle against City.

“I actually think playing Manchester City at this time could suit us as they’re not particularly great defensively.

“Pep Guardiola doesn’t seem to put a massive amount of stock on having a structured defence. Basically he plays a ‘five and a five’. Essentially a back four and a holding midfield player and five attackers – and that way of playing could suit us.”

City go into Sunday’s game at the Emirates in third, two points behind Tottenham in second place but with Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal in hot pursuit as the race to finish in the top four intensifies.

With Arsenal and City also due to play each other at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final in under a month’s time a win for Wenger’s team this weekend could prove a psychological boost for the long-serving Frenchman.

Groves, who also won the 1987 Littlewoods Cup under the old twin towers, added: “I hope it will lay down a marker for the forthcoming semi-final, but what I definitely know is that the semi-final draw pairing us against City was kind.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to play Chelsea because of the form they are in. The structure under Antonio Conte – the way they play with three at the back and their two holding midfield players, who are very well drilled – has made them very hard to beat.

“And I wouldn’t have wanted to play Spurs because of the emotion of a North London Derby and all of the importance of what that game means to fans.

“Spurs are a high-intensity side who close you down effectively, which could see Arsenal struggle against them. So I think playing City in the semi-final suits us, as does it playing them on Sunday during our bad run of form.”

■ Play With A Legend events is the brainchild of Perry Groves and Josh Landy. For events with your heroes, corporate, stag trips and VIP trips email info@playwithalegend.com or visit the website playwithalegend.com.

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