Mertesacker replaced by Vermaelen as Giroud passes late fitness test for Arsenal's clash with Manchester City

Fit-again Abou Diaby returns to the match-day squad but Mikel Arteta will have a late test on his calf as the hosts look to extend a good home run against Roberto Mancini's side
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Per Mertesacker has been left out of the Arsenal team for the visit of Manchester City on Sunday afternoon, can reveal.

Skipper Thomas Vermaelen will return to the starting X1 after being a substitute for the 2-2 draw at Swansea City in the FA Cup last Sunday, partnering Laurent Koscielny in central defence.

Olivier Giroud has passed a fitness test on his knee and will be in the match-day squad, along with fit-again Abou Diaby.

But Arsenal will give a late test to Mikel Arteta, who is struggling with a calf injury.

Mertesacker has been a key figure in Arsenal's defence this season, starting 17 of their 20 league matches and arguably being the most consistent of the team’s back four.