City stars brawl ahead of Arsenal trip

FRESH cracks have broken out in Manchester City’s mutinous squad ahead of tonight’s crunch visit to Arsenal after team-mates Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor brawled during training.

Yesterday’s skirmish appeared to be sparked by Adebayor’s reaction to a tackle from Toure and had to be broken up by concerned team-mates including Patrick Vieira and Vincent Kompany.

It is the latest fractious episode in an eventful season for big-spending City, who remain strong contenders for the Premier League title despite a series of on and off-field altercations.

Adebayor is tipped to sit out tonight’s match against his former side amid a growing belief he will leave Eastlands this month, while City are also without injured stars Mario Balotelli and David Silva. Manager Roberton Mancini confirmed a £27m deal had been agreed with Wolfsburg for striker Edin Dzeko, but played down his side’s prospects of landing a first top flight title for 43 years, despite lying second in the table.

“Arsenal, Chelsea, United and Tottenham all have more experience than us and, probably, one of these four teams will win the title,” he said. “We just want to try and stay there and improve.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger concurred with Mancini’s list of contenders and called on his team to make a strong start to 2011.

“There are five teams in the fight,” said Wenger, who is waiting Thomas Vermaelen’s reaction to resuming training before deciding whether to buy in January.

“You always have a team after Christmas who finds momentum and this team will win the championship.”

INNER CITY PRESSURE | A SEASON OF CONTROVERSY

OCT: Joe Hart, Gareth Barry and Adam Johnson drink and party with students after 3-0 home defeat to Arsenal

DEC: Jerome Boateng and Mario Balotelli involved in training ground fisticuffs

DEC: Carlos Tevez rants at Roberto Mancini after being substituted in the 89th minute of the 1-0 win over Bolton

DEC: Tevez hands in a transfer request but then retracts it within a week