Manchester City and Arsenal are set to face off in a highly anticipated Premier League title showdown on Wednesday, in what is being hailed as one of the biggest games in the English top flight in a decade.
Although the Gunners currently lead the table by five points, they have played two more games than Pep Guardiola’s defending champions. A win for either team at the Etihad Stadium will give them the upper hand in the title race, with only a month left until the end of the season.
Arsenal, who were eight points ahead at the beginning of the month, last won the title in 2003-04 under the leadership of Mikel Arteta.
Manchester City is vying for their fifth Premier League title in six years, and they are also in the running for a Treble, which includes the FA Cup and the Champions League.
According to Chris Sutton, a former Premier League winner in the 1994-95 season, Arsenal’s recent setbacks may have left their players with some doubts. Meanwhile, Manchester City has a confident strut due to their previous successes, so Sutton predicts that they will win the game with ease.
Can this match determine the title winner?
Despite both managers claiming that this game will not determine the Premier League title race, the statistics suggest otherwise.
This will be the ninth occasion in Premier League history where the top two teams meet after 33 or more games, with only a five-point gap between them. Out of those previous eight matches, only one losing team went on to win the title – Chelsea, who beat Manchester United 2-1 in 2008. However, Sir Alex Ferguson’s team still finished first by a two-point margin.
In a similar title showdown in 2014, Chelsea defeated Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield, but it was Manchester City who won the league on the final day, having played fewer games than their rivals.
On the Monday Night Club, Chris Sutton predicted a 3-1 win for City, saying “Arsenal have to not get beaten, but I think they will be beaten.” Micah Richards, who was part of the City side that won the title in 2012, added, “I always believed Arsenal would have to go to Manchester City and win, to win the league.”
If Arsenal win, they will still need to win their remaining five games to have a shot at the title. If City win, they would need to win six of their last seven matches to become champions for a third successive season.
Arteta, who was Guardiola’s assistant at City from 2016 to 2019, said, “It is going to be a tough night and challenge, but the opportunity is incredible for us. You want to be champion, you have to win these matches, it is as simple as that. We knew from the beginning – you want to win a Premier League, you have to go to Spurs and you have to beat them, you have to go to Chelsea and you have to beat them. This is what we have been doing, that is why we are here and now we have to go to City and we have to beat them.”