If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, than Arsene Wenger should be ecstatic that Roberto Mancini is willing to copy his methods at Manchester City. That should case here, but so intent is Mancini in replicating the Wenger way, he has no issue with buying Arsenal players to achieve the dream of his UAE backers. We have the Emirates, they have the Etihad. We have free flowing football, after a dour few games last season, Mancini now has free flowing football. We have talented players, and to add insult to injury, they have returned to the well again and again, taking Samir Nasri, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and Emmanuel Adebayor from north London. Even former legend Patrick Vieira was tempted. Not content on stopping there either, Mancini is now eyeing up the Premiership’s top scorer Robin Van Persie, and for a Board used to balance sheets rather than team sheets, the alarm bells should have been ringing loudly in their ears by now. It would seem that Wenger is powerless to arrest the high profile departures up the M6.

Unhappy

But should it matter? After all, if a player wants to leave a club and has made no secret of that fact, then any manager would rather cut their losses and move on, rather than keep an unhappy player. Ironically, Mancini is facing such an issue with Carlos Tevez, but across north London, Harry Redknapp stood firm in the face of a virtual name your price offer from Chelsea for Luka Modric.

Nasri progress ?

Wenger has spoken of his hurt and suffering at having lost both Nasri and Cesc Fabregas, almost forcefully prized away from him, two players he had high hopes for. Wenger never played Nasri in the Carling Cup, but as the former Arsenal player returns to the Emirates this evening. Will his taking part in the quarter-final stage of the Carling Cup represent a forward or a backwards move for the 24 year old? Used mainly as a substitute by Mancini, Nasri did not leave the Emirates to play in City’s Carling Cup side, and although he and all the ex- Gunners at the Etihad have seen a financial increase in their bank balances, in footballing terms, could they honestly say their moves north have represented progress ? As Arsenal qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League, City’s loss in Napoli has virtually eliminated them from the competition, as Nasri in his jazzy undergarments looked on from the bench.

Fools’ gold

Many other former Arsenal players have had their heads turned by offers from elsewhere in search greater fortune, but as we saw with Alexander Hleb, Mathieu Flammini, and these former Arsenal, now City players, it has been proved to be fools’ gold. He and Arsenal fans may not see it just now, but the real winner is Wenger. With so much piled against him, he has stood firm, with no ally in the Boardroom. Wenger’s is an avowed mission, to grow the club organically, within it’s means, with success coming in the not too distant future. By contrast, the genetically modified City are in a race to be top, but their players are blinded by their own avarice.

Wenger credit

Whoever comes out on top tonight at the Emirates will have a great chance to lift the Carling Cup come February. Whatever the outcome, the rest of football has seen, that City are in severe danger of being an Arsenal clone, and if City do go on to dominate on all fronts, for that Wenger and not Mancini deserves take the credit.