Clichy has been out for just under two weeks, while Jovetic hasn’t made a single appearance since hobbling off in the Capital One Cup tie against Newcastle at the end of October.
Pellegrini said that they are “training normally”, which doesn’t exactly confirm they will play tomorrow, but indicates they are available if necessary.
Jovetic is unlikely to start anyway and the mid-week game against Leicester might be seen as a better time to ease him back in after repeated muscle injuries.
Micah Richards will play no part after injuring himself against Bayern, while Matija Nastasic will miss another week or so.
Pellegrini was again coy on whether Joe Hart will start after today’s Daily Mirror back page claimed he was set for a recall.
Pellegrini refused to say who would start, but joked about the goalkeeper situation after so many top keepers have been linked with the Blues lately:
“When the transfer window starts, you will have a lot of difficulties to know who the first-choice goalkeeper will be because we will have (Iker) Casillas, (Victor) Valdes, (Manuel) Neuer, (Willy) Caballero, (Asmir) Begovic.
“I think you will have to ask me about six new goalkeepers!”
Pellegrini also confessed he got the maths wrong on Tuesday night and thought City needed two more goals to go through, but said he feels no guilt because City tried to score a fourth anyway (and Negredo almost did).
Pellegrini has decisions to make tomorrow for what is the biggest game of the Premier League season so far.
Many fringe players, including Milner and Garcia, put in quality performances against Bayern Munich after a dismal opening 20 minutes, but the likelihood is that he will rotate those who were rested back into the team.
One big question, though, is who will start next to Kompany to try and ward off Arsenal’s dangerous cast of attacking players.
Demichelis has played 90 minutes for ten games running and the 32-year-old’s legs might be starting to feel it now, so there is an argument for reuniting the title-winning pair of Kompany and Lescott with Nastasic still out.
But Pellegrini seems to trust his former Malaga general completely and may favour him over Lescott tomorrow.
It’d also be harsh to drop Milner, who was man of the match against Bayern, and Dzeko, who led the line so well after a heart-to-heart talk with Pellegrini. But this is football and it’s all about having options and strength in depth.
Possible City starting XI vs. Arsenal: Hart/Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Kompany, Clichy, Fernandinho, Yaya, Nasri, Silva, Aguero, Negredo
One player who sounds fired up for tomorrow’s game is Fernandinho, who has become one of City’s key players this season.
“I know for us it is a life and death game. We want to win to get to the top.”
“They are the team that has been the most consistent since the start of the season. They have played some excellent games, they have good players and I think we have a huge challenge upon us.”
“Our team has been playing much better recently. The turning point was the defeat to Sunderland. After that we changed a few things and since then we have been playing well.”
City’s aggressive recruitment of top young talents from around the world continues with news today that the club have beaten United, Arsenal and Everton to the signing of Norwegian teen goalkeeper Kjetil Haug.
15-year-old Haug was one of the most sought after goalkeepers in his age group and had successful trials at all of the clubs mentioned, but he and his family decided that City’s improving youth setup, which will soon be housed at the groundbreaking Etihad Campus, was the right move.
His father Cato confirmed the move to Norwegian media today.
Despite being just 15, Haug is already 6’2″ tall and has been compared to former United and City keeper Peter Schmeichel.
Haug will join City next July from his club Sarpsborg 08 and the contract has already been signed. The transfer fee is unknown.
City have some fantastic goalkeeping talent at every age group in the youth setup and with Haug set to join the ranks, the future is looking bright in that department.
15-year-old Kongolo’s move to City was reported to be a done deal in July then October, but there has been a lack of confirmation and now the Daily Mail is reporting that Liverpool are trying to beat City to his signature.
Liverpool are in talks with his agent, the sticking point being his staggering wage demands of £6,000-a-week (remember, he is 15!), an amount City would also presumably be asked to pay.
Kongolo, who can also play as a defender, has been compared to Patrick Vieira (along with many others before him…) and is very highly rated.