Mario Balotelli has once again claimed the headlines as Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester City prepare for another big match.

The controversial Italian striker was yesterday reported to have been involved in a training ground bust-up with defender Micah Richards ahead of Sunday's clash with Arsenal.

The incident comes after the build-up to October's Manchester derby was overshadowed by the infamous firework incident at his house and Monday's trip to Chelsea was preceded by reports he had broken a curfew.

The fracas, which was captured by photographers using the public footpath adjacent to City's training complex at Carrington, was played down by Richards last night.

The right-back tweeted: "Me & mario are all good! these things happen in training & we shook hands after. it shows passion!''

It is understood the club also do not regard the matter as serious.

Nevertheless, it brings inconvenience to manager Roberto Mancini as he looks to get his team back to winning ways.

City surrendered their unbeaten record at Stamford Bridge and now have just a two-point lead at the top of the table ahead of the in-form Gunners' visit to the Etihad Stadium.

It is not the first time City have had to deal with such an incident, nor is it the first involving Balotelli.

Last season the 21-year-old clashed with both Jerome Boateng and Vincent Kompany while Emmanuel Adebayor was also photographed seemingly fighting with Kolo Toure.

The fences surrounding the training pitches are currently not high enough to prevent photographers having relatively straightforward access to sessions.

This is a matter the club - who have plans for a new state-of-the-art training complex close to the stadium - will look to address in the short term.

The list of misdemeanours involving the unpredictable Balotelli also continues to grow.

The season began with question marks over his relationship with Mancini after the manager substituted him for attempting an outrageous backheel in a friendly during the summer tour.

He then stormed down the tunnel after being taken off in the Community Shield at Wembley but since then his performances have turned his City career around.

He has scored 11 goals this term and established himself as a key player despite attracting further attention off-field.

Most notoriously, the fire service was called to his house in Cheshire in October after fireworks set off from inside the bathroom started a blaze.

Just last weekend he was spotted out in Manchester city centre in the early hours of Sunday morning - less than 48 hours before the game at Chelsea - but Mancini dismissed that as unimportant.

Meanwhile, Richards is expected to be fit to face Arsenal after overcoming a calf injury.