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Mancini Ponders Striking Options Ahead of Date with Gunners

International Business Times UK

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has a big decision to make, when he chooses his strike force for his club's make-or-break game against Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday.

The Italian has four forwards available, which translates into four different problems, as he decides between Argentineans Sergio Agüero and Carlos Tevez, fellow Italian Mario Balotelli and Bosnian Edin Dzeko.

To begin with, Agüero - the club's £38 million signing - missed the club's last two games and is battling to be fit after suffering a "stupid" foot injury sustained a few weeks ago, from an allergic reaction to a pain-killing spray. Agüero would undoubtedly be Mancini's first choice to play, if he is capable of doing so. Should he play, then the City boss will feel he is deploying his strongest and most in-form striker.

Meanwhile, Dzeko, who has become a squad player after costing the club £27 million when he came from Wolfsburg in 2010, has not played the full 90 minutes in some time. His quality is not the issue here and this could, conceivably, be just the jumpstart his poor form needs. However, given the magnitude of the game, will Mancini trust the Bosnian?

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The third option - the controversial £22.5 million Mario Balotelli - is usually in the headlines for the wrong reasons - everything from training ground bust-ups to gate-crashing a former club's press conference and admitting to affairs with prostitutes. However, like his fellow forwards, he is a quality player and can, as he displayed for a few brief moments against Sunderland, in his side's 3-3 draw, turn the game on his head, if he is so inclined. Again, given the importance of the game, it may be Mancini chooses to leave his young hothead on the bench, for a super-sub cameo.

Finally, the enigmatic Tevez, for whom the club played £25.5 million in 2009, is desperate to get back into the good books of not only his present club but European football in general, following a rather prolonged and childish spat with Mancini. Tevez made an instant impact, in City's game against Chelsea, when coming on a second-half substitute. Since then, he has made a couple more appearances off the bench, although not with the same impact. His match fitness, like that of Dzeko's is questionable. However, like Aguero and Balotelli, Tevez offers Mancini a more physical presence in the center-forward position, something which could prove useful against the Gunners' Thomas Vermaelen and, particularly, Laurent Koscielny.

According to The Telegraph's Alan Smith that strength and ability to roll your marker and play a team mate through, something Tevez is very happy to do, could create havoc in the Arsenal back line, with speedy midfielders like David Silva and Samir Nasri likely to make late runs into the north London club's box.

In the end, whoever Mancini selects as a starter will know that if he does not deliver the goals, not only will his stock further depreciate at the club (something Dzeko, Balotelli and Tevez cannot afford, if they wish to remain at the Etihad) but the club will probably concede the title to rivals Manchester United.

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