City visit Arsenal in showdown
Manchester City travel to Emirates Stadium on Sunday for a match that Roberto Mancini has admitted could spell the end of their title hopes if Arsenal emerge triumphant.
Mancini's men suffered a potentially decisive blow last weekend as they could only draw 3-3 with Sunderland in a thrilling encounter that was packed with drama and controversy.
The result left City needing local rivals United to slip up, even before the eagerly-anticipated Manchester derby, but there has been no sign of that happening yet and the Red Devils beat Blackburn on Monday to open up a five-point lead at the top.
That advantage could be stretched to eight points by the time City take to the field at 4pm as United are in action against Queens Park Rangers earlier on Sunday afternoon.
Mancini feels such a gap would be insurmountable in the final six games of the season and will be desperate to win at Arsenal, even if that represents a huge challenge in itself.
The Gunners also stumbled last time out as they were surprisingly defeated 2-1 by QPR, but Arsene Wenger's side had previously been on a scintillating run of form.
Arsenal remain in third place, just ahead of North London rivals Tottenham on goal difference and five points clear of Chelsea and Newcastle.
Wenger will therefore be just as eager as Mancini for the win on Sunday, to keep their bid for Uefa Champions League football on track and also make a statement of intent ahead of next season's Premier League campaign.
Arsenal are reporting no fresh injury problems ahead of the clash with City but Wenger could decide to make changes following the loss to QPR.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho are among those who will be hoping for a recall after being left out of the starting XI at Loftus Road.
Midfielders Abou Diaby and Francis Coquelin (both hamstring) are set to return to full training next week.
Centre-back Per Mertesacker (ankle) and midfielder Jack Wilshere (ankle) remain sidelined.
Manchester City are hopeful striker Sergio Aguero will be fit for the trip to the capital after missing the draw against Sunderland with a foot problem.
Defender Joleon Lescott (hip) is back in contention while midfielder Samir Nasri could also return against his former club after sitting out last weekend after a family problem and slight injury.
Mancini will be hoping David Silva can rediscover some of his early-season magic, with the Spaniard having failed to score since Christmas.
Mario Balotelli is in contention after escaping unhurt from a car crash in Manchester city centre at the end of another turbulent week for the Italian striker.
Fellow forward Carlos Tevez is again likely to be among the substitutes.
Possible starting XIs
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Song, Arteta, Rosicky, Walcott, Gervinho, Van Persie.
Man City: Hart, Richards, K Toure, Kompany, Clichy, Milner, Y Toure, Barry, Silva, Nasri, Aguero.
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