Manchester City have a golden opportunity to deal Arsenal’s hopes of finishing in the top four when they travel to the Emirates Stadium for their English Premier League clash on Sunday.
The last time the sides met, City overcame a sluggish start to edge the Gunners 2-1 in December and the odds are heavily in favour of the visitors this time round.
Arsenal are tottering in sixth place and in desperate need of a win, but third-placed City have too much quality and should be able to secure an important away win.
The fans are up in arms against Arsene Wenger and if recent reports are to be believed, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are stalling on new contracts. The biggest stars at the capital club by a country mile, the uncertainty surrounding their future coupled with four losses in five games has severely damped the mood at the Emirates.
While the German playmaker is fit to start, his individual performances on the whole have been sub-par this whole season, the burden falls on Alexis Sanchez to lead Arsenal single-handedly.
The Chilean winger is a fine player but his petulant attitude and clashes with Wenger haven't helped matters and with comments made in midweek hinting at a summer transfer to a certain derby rival, perhaps his mind is not in the right place.
However, it isn't all gloom for Arsenal, for in the likes of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain they have real pace, which could shatter City’s shaky defence.
Petr Cech is the big name set to miss out on the team-sheet, with David Ospina expected to deputise, with Lucas Perez and Santi Cazolra the long term absentees.
City’s form of late hasn't been great itself, two back-to-back draws in the league and an ignominious exit from the Champions League at the hands of Monaco has led many to question Pep Guardiola’s managerial abilities.
The scathing criticism is a bit unfair, but the Catalan was hired to contend for titles and both the Champions League and the Premier League are out his reach now. As a result, the 2016-17 season will go down as a failure even if he managed to lift the FA Cup (City play Arsenal in the semis on April 23rd).
So with automatic Champions League qualification the primary goal now, City know they cannot afford to slip up against Arsenal and must make the trip back to Manchester with three points in the bag.
Key to their fortunes will be star striker Sergio Aguero, who is in the midst of a lean season, by his own standards. However, as the likes of Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling have proved in 2016-17, City are no longer a one-man team.
So while there are plenty of positives for next season, one potentially fatal flaw looms large at the moment: A suspect defence. Their high-profile signings at the back haven't inspired confidence and could come undone against a pacy Arsenal side.
Guardiola confirmed in his pre-match press conference that he has no fresh concerns as Ilka, with Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna touch and go for the game, which leaves him a little short of options at right back.
Super Stat: Goals are a virtual guarantee in this fixture, with the last scoreless draw in the 2010/11 season!