Arsene Wenger arrives at a key juncture in Arsenal’s Premier League season on Saturday refusing to accept defeat in the title race.
Two sides seemingly with contrasting confidence levels clash this weekend when Manchester City head south to the Emirates Stadium searching for a sixth successive league clean sheet and buoyant after winning 3-0 at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
A comprehensive Manchester derby victory means City are third, three points ahead of Arsenal, and with two games in hand on leaders Chelsea.
City may be flying, but Arsenal’s own title challenge has unravelled following defeats at Stoke City and Chelsea this month – the latter a 6-0 thrashing at Stamford Bridge in Wenger’s 1,000th game in charge – before a last-gasp own goal meant they had to settle for a share of the spoils in a 2-2 draw at home against Swansea City in midweek.
In truth, Arsenal have stuttered in the league since the end of January, but Wenger remains optimistic about his side’s chances.
“It’s all to go for I think, for everybody,” the Frenchman told the club’s official website.
“Everybody speaks about Everton coming back on us (and challenging for fourth place). Why should we then not come back on the teams who are in front of us?
“There’s still a lot of turning games that will happen until the end of the season. But it’s down to the quality of our performances.
“We don’t think about the title race now, we think about winning again. So for us just to recover in a positive way against Swansea was very important.
“Now from that game, be positive again and win the next one.”
Manuel Pellegrini’s City arrive in London in their best position yet to claim a first Premier League double over Arsenal.
The highlights reel of the 6-3 demolition suffered at the Etihad Stadium in December will make painful viewing for Arsenal fans ahead of the rematch, with Wenger at least boosted by the fact that he has no fresh injury concerns to contend with.
City’s away-day Premier League games are rarely dull as Pellegrini’s side have plundered 19 goals in their last seven league outings on the road.
There is no doubting who City’s man of the moment is as Yaya Toure followed up his hat-trick in last Saturday’s 5-0 victory over Fulham with his 17th league goal of the season at Manchester United.
Toure is one short of reaching the 50-goal barrier for the club he joined from Barcelona in 2010, which signals an incredible return from a midfielder, even one of the calibre of the Ivory Coast international.
Sergio Aguero (hamstring) would appear unlikely to return for City, along with Matija Nastasic (knee).