London: Mario Balotelli could be given another chance to resurrect his Manchester City career by being recalled for Sunday’s match at Arsenal, where the controversial Italy striker’s recklessness almost cost his team the Premier League title last season.
Balotelli hasn’t started a game since City’s derby loss to Manchester United on December 9, with his future at the English champions appearing in doubt after he was involved in a training-ground scuffle with manager Roberto Mancini last week.
However, with Sergio Aguero still out with a hamstring injury and Balotelli returning to the squad for the FA Cup last weekend, Mancini may once again put his faith in his compatriot for a fixture City haven’t won in the league since 1975.
“He has trained well and I hope this year will be different,” Mancini said Friday of Balotelli, who arrived at training on Thursday sporting a new bleached-blond hairstyle.
Balotelli was sent off in City’s last visit to Emirates Stadium, a 0-1 loss in April that left the team eight points behind United with six games left. City still went on to win the title.
That was the fifth straight league game at Arsenal in which City have failed to score and extended a 37-year winless run at the home of the London club.
“We feel strongly we can turn up anywhere and win but it’s just not been the case unfortunately when we’ve been to the Emirates,” City goalkeeper Joe Hart said.
“But it’s not one of those places where you walk through the doors and you’re like, ‘Oh no, we’re going to lose.”
City’s visits to Arsenal have not been entirely fruitless. They did win a League Cup quarter final there last season, but they have not scored a league goal at Arsenal since DaMarcus Beasley’s effort in the 3-1 defeat in 2007.
“I wasn't aware it had been so long. Football is like that sometimes but 37 years is extraordinary and records like that are rare but there to be broken,” City midfielder Gareth Barry said. (Agencies)