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TEAM NEWS: Ozil returns for Arsenal in crucial Man City clash

10:03 PM SGT 2/4/17
Mesut Ozil Arsenal 2016
The playmaker has been restored to the Gunners line-up as they seek victory against their direct rivals for Champions League qualification

Mesut Ozil is back for Arsenal and hoping to lead them to victory in a direct battle for supremacy and Champions League qualification against Manchester City.

Ozil ready to silence his critics

The German has been restored to the Gunners' starting XI as Arsene Wenger's men seek the impetus to push for victory against their rivals for a place in Europe's premier club competition next season.

He has not played from the start since his involvement in Arsenal's humiliating 10-2 exit from the Champions League to Bayern Munich in February, with the Londoners losing four out of five Premier League games since.

Ozil now sets out to redeem himself in support of Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott - who has scored four goals in his last four league outings versus City - and Danny Welbeck, who starts up front with Olivier Giroud having to settle for a place on the bench.

Arsenal set out against a remarkably open City side that features Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva operating at the base of an atypical four-man midfield put out by manager Pep Guardiola, as Jesus Navas and Leroy Sane work the flanks.

Can Guardiola overcome Wenger's Emirates hoo-doo?

Guardiola - who has already matched his worst record as a manager having lost five league games this season - has opted to throw caution to the wind despite a City loss here allowing Arsenal to close within four points of them in fourth place.

Fernandinho has been recycled to serve as right-back over Pablo Zabaleta in an open and entertaining fixture that has produced an average of 3.68 goals per game over both teams' last seven encounters.

Nevertheless, the Citizens will be seeking to seize the initiative here and secure their first double over the Gunners since the 1975-76 season.

Arsenal XI: Ospina; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Coquelin; Walcott, Ozil, Alexis; Welbeck.

Subs: Gibbs, Giroud, Martinez, Maitland-Niles, Gabriel, Iwobi, Elneny.

Man City XI: Caballero; Fernandinho, Stones, Otamendi, Clichy; Navas, De Bruyne, Silva, Sane; Sterling; Aguero.

Subs: Bravo, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Toure, Kompany, Nolito, Delph.