London: Manchester City face the acid test of their Premier League title credentials on Wednesday when they seek to win at Arsenal, something they have not managed for 36 years.
After winning all three festive fixtures, City are level with Manchester United on 41 points at the top of the Premier League, with Arsenal third on 39.
Having not tasted success at the Gunners since 1975 and having lost 3-0 at home to them in October, victory would go a long way to convincing even City’s most pessimistic fans that they are serious contenders to win the league for the first time since 1968.
“It seems ridiculous that we haven’t won there since the 1970s but that has to end sometime,” assistant manager Brian Kidd, who played for both clubs, told City’s website.
“They beat us fair and square in the first game but I wouldn’t change our squad for any other. I don’t fear any team in the league.”
City were up against it in the home match after an early red card for defender Dedryck Boyata who has not played a league game since.
“Now we want to play them with 11 men,” said defender Jerome Boateng.
“I don’t believe in bogey teams or jinxes and things like that I only look to the next game. That City have not won at Arsenal for a long time makes no difference to what might happen on Wednesday night.
Mario Balotelli and David Silva, who has been in superb form, are both struggling to make the game because of knee injuries.
Manchester United, who have two games in hand on City and one on the other three title hopefuls, host Stoke City on Tuesday.
United needed a late goal by Javier Hernandez to secure a 2-1 win at The Britannia in October and they are expecting another tough battle with Tony Pulis’s physical side.
“They always have a go and you have to win that battle and earn the right to play,” United midfielder Darren Fletcher said.
Chelsea, still reeling from conceding a stoppage-time equaliser in Sunday’s 3-3 home draw with Aston Villa after scoring twice in the last six minutes, visit Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday.
The champions’ poor run, which has brought 10 points from the last 10 games, has seen them drop outside the top four and they now trail United by six points having played a game more.
Tottenham Hotspur, a point above their London rivals after three successive wins, visit Everton on Wednesday.