Manchester City and Arsenal go head to head in a Premier League title showdown on Wednesday – and one of the biggest games in the English top flight for a decade.
The Gunners lead the table by five points, but have played two games more than Pep Guardiola’s defending champions.
Both sides know a win at Etihad Stadium will see them take control of the title race with only a month until the finish line.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, who were eight points clear at the start of the month, last won the title in 2003-04.
Chasing a fifth Premier League title in six years, City are also in contention for a Treble, including the FA Cup and Champions League.
Both managers say this game will not decide the Premier League title race – but the data suggests they may be wrong.
This will be the ninth time in Premier League history that the top two have met after 33 or more games (for the league leaders) with five points or fewer between them.
Only once did a team lose that game and win the title – when Chelsea beat Manchester United 2-1 in 2008, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s side finished first by two points.
The last time there was a title showdown like this, back in 2014, neither team won the league.
Chelsea beat leaders Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield, but City – who had games in hand – were crowned champions on the final day.
Data analysts Nielsen Gracenote currently rate City as having a 79% chance of winning the title.
An Arsenal victory, though, would see them become the favourites with a 55% chance, while that would drop to 11% with a City success.
If Arsenal win, they would still need victories in their final five games to be sure of the title. If City triumph, they would need to win six of their last seven matches to become champions for a third successive season.
Arsenal were eight points above City – albeit having played a game more – coming into April, but they have drawn their last three games.
It will no longer be in their hands if they lose at Etihad Stadium – and Arsenal are outsiders to win this game with bookmakers at 5-1.
If the Gunners do miss out on the championship, they will be part of a small group to lose it from such a commanding position.
Only Manchester United (1998 and 2012) and Arsenal (2003) have ever been eight points clear after 28 games or more and not finished top.
Incidentally, all three teams went on to win the league the following year.
The biggest lead ever blown is Newcastle’s 12 in 1995-96.
Only one team have ever had 69 points with 10 games remaining – as Arsenal did – and failed to win the title.
That was Liverpool in 2018-19, when they finished on 97 points, one behind City.
One potential, and huge, factor behind Arsenal’s recent blip has been the loss of France defender William Saliba to a back injury. He has missed the last five games after starting the first 27.
They have conceded twice as many goals per game without him (1.8 v 0.9) and won 40% of games without him, compared to 77.8% when he has played.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, their rivals this season have been Manchester City – who seem to turn into a machine at this stage of the season.
City have won 12 and drawn one of their past 13 games in all competitions. They are 16 games unbeaten too.
Since Guardiola took over in 2016, City have taken between 21 and 30 points in their final 10 games of a Premier League season – an average of 2.44 points per game (including this season so far).
Also in Arsenal’s way is the most prolific goalscorer the Premier League has ever seen – Erling Haaland.
The 22-year-old, who joined City from Borussia Dortmund last summer, has scored 32 goals in 28 Premier League games this season – netting an average of 1.29 goals every 90 minutes.
Haaland has already equalled Mohamed Salah’s record for goals in a 38-game season – with eight games left. In all competitions he only needs two more to reach 50.
City, who face Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals and Manchester United in the FA Cup final, are only 12 wins in all competitions away from a rare Treble.
Manchester United are the only English team to achieve it, back in 1998-99, while Celtic, Ajax, PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich have also tasted similar success.
Arsenal are bidding for a first title since going unbeaten in the 2003-04 Premier League season under Arsene Wenger.
City have been favourites to win the league every year since then and it will be five in six years if they succeed this time – a run not seen since Manchester United around the turn of the century.