A few months ago this game on the penultimate weekend of the season looked as though it may have been a title decider, instead Manchester City and Arsenal are still looking over their shoulders as they look to secure a top-four finish.
Victory for Arsenal will guarantee a place in next year’s Champions League, while City will need all three points to keep their fate in their hands.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men will want to bounce back from their gutless exit to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday night, after going a goal down early on the response was somewhat embarrassing with City failing to really test a shaky Madrid defence, so no doubt even with all that is at stake on Sunday afternoon a positive performance will be expected.
Arsenal come into the game on the back of a victory over Norwich last weekend although the win was overshadowed by the ‘Time For Change’ protests at the Emirates, however Wenger and Arsenal should breathe easy because the sole focus at the Etihad will have to be to secure Champions League football next term.
Being at home, City will be expected to take the game to Arsenal but are they mentally over their midweek disappointment? Champions League football is by no means assured for next season with Man United waiting for any slip ups, City simply can’t afford to let the destiny be out of their hands.
Sunday also sees Manuel Pellegrini’s final game in charge at the Etihad before Pep Guardiola takes over the hot seat in the summer, so I suspect the Chilean will want to go out in front of the City support on a high.
Has his three year stint in charge been a success or failure? Having secured the Premier League and League Cup in his first season, it was followed up by a trophy-less campaign and despite starting the season in dominant form his final year in charge went downhill once the announcement of Pep Guardiola appointment was made with City’s players mentally have looked fragile ever since.
For Arsenal they will want to keep their faint hopes alive of catching arch rivals Tottenham although the main focus will be to secure third at least.
Arsenal look a club in need of a change, whether that’s from upstairs, with the manager or players. Performances have been inconsistent since the turn of the year with good performances against the likes of Leicester and Tottenham but have failed to build on them none more so than at Old Trafford or at home to Swansea or Southampton. Support has been split with ‘Wenger In’ or ‘Wenger Out’, and no doubt another loss at the Etihad will only add more fuel to the fire. Whilst not a must win game, it is certainly a must not lose game if the club are to see out this season in some kind of peace.
City will be without captain Vincent Kompany after he came off in midweek with a groin injury while David Silva, Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksander Kolarov are also set to miss the game.
Santi Cazorla could be welcomed back for the first time since November while Per Mertasacker will be joined by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the treatment room after it was announced he is to miss the European Championships after suffering a fresh knee injury.
With key players out injured and a potential hangover from their midweek disappointment Man City look there for the taking, but will Arsene Wenger secure Champions League football at Eastlands or will Manuel Pellegrini’s men end his tenure at the Etihad with a huge win.