Manchester City is close to catching up with its rival Arsenal in the race for the English Premier League title, and the defending champion is trying – the day after tomorrow, Wednesday – to take advantage of the opportunity to take a step towards its fifth title in 6 years.
For months, this match was expected to be influential in the title struggle, and now it is necessary for Arsenal to win, otherwise it will be threatened with losing the lead in the competition in the decisive meters.
And with the success of the “Citizens”, who is looking forward to winning a hat-trick of titles, in achieving successive victories, as it used to at the end of each season, the young Arsenal squad suffers from tension and sharp decline.
Arsenal could have entered the match more than 10 points ahead, but after giving up their two-goal lead and drawing 2-2 in consecutive matches against Liverpool and West Ham United, the team suffered a new blow in a 3-3 draw with bottom club Southampton last Friday.
After that match, in which Arsenal needed two goals in the last moments from Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka to get one point, the players fell to the ground and the fans wondered if the dream of winning the title for the first time since 2004 had become difficult to achieve.
Arsenal still leads by 5 points before the last 6 rounds, but City has two deferred matches and it seems difficult to stop it, as it scored 25 points out of the last 27 available points.
Simon Gleave, who works for the "Greasenote" statistics company, believes that Arsenal's chance of winning the title has become 21%, compared to 79% for City.
Football used to present surprises, and despite this, the current "Gunners" position was difficult to imagine at the beginning of the season.
Although coach Mikel Arteta would have certainly preferred to go to the “Al-Ittihad” stadium in a better position, he at least knows exactly as well as his squad what should be achieved on Wednesday, which is victory.
"I can't wait, you want to play games like this," Arteta said. "When it's up to you, you have to go and win." Nevertheless, the task appears difficult.
Arsenal have lost their last 7 matches against City in all competitions and have not achieved any victory at the “Etihad” stadium in the league since 2015.
City narrowed the gap with Arsenal at the top, reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, and on Saturday reached the FA Cup final after defeating Sheffield United.
Coach Pep Guardiola's team is playing consecutive matches, but it has the efficiency and alternatives in the squad, which makes it a strong candidate to become the second English club to win the League, FA Cup and Champions League treble.
And the “heavenly team” succeeded in making 6 changes to the starting line-up against Sheffield, and striker Erling Haaland was replaced early alongside Jack Grealish, with the start of thinking about the upcoming confrontation against Arsenal.
Guardiola said, “On Wednesday, we will play the final against a team that is the best in England so far and is ahead of us by 5 points. This is a decisive and important match for us .. We know that winning will make us take a step to impose our complete control.”