Arsène Wenger will be more desperate for a win than usual as Arsenal travel to the Etihad Stadium to take on a Manchester City side also struggling for momentum this afternoon.
The Frenchman is enduring a difficult time with the club’s fans. A string of poor results have not only jeopardised their chances of Champions League football next season, but also resulted in a humiliating elimination from this year’s tournament.
With his future at the club uncertain, continuing pressure from supporters for the board to replace him, and little public support from his players and employers, his departure may seem somewhat inevitable.
Wenger has confirmed that star forward Alexis Sánchez will make the starting 11 this weekend. There were doubts over his fitness following an ankle knock, but the club’s top scorer appears to have overcome this.
Wenger’s counterpart is under considerably less pressure, but that does not mean he is entirely free of it. One win in four, including a loss that saw them exit the Champions League at the hands of tournament minnows Monaco, means that Pep Guardiola has only the FA Cup as the remaining realistic trophy target this season.
Guardiola enters the weekend’s glamour clash with influential playmaker Kevin De Bruyne sidelined with a groin injury.
In another encounter today, Middlesbrough travel to the Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea City in a match of equal significance, albeit at the other end of the league table.
The hosts’ midfielder Gylfi Sigurðsson will be hoping to make fans forget about his recent statement that he hopes to have his excellent season with the relegation-threatened club rewarded with a move to a more glamorous side.
The Swans have failed to take any points from their last two matches, losing to Bournemouth and fellow relegation-battlers Hull City.
Middlesbrough, who recently dispensed with the services of Aitor Karanka and installed Steve Agnew as caretaker manager for the second time in his career at the North Yorkshire club, enter the match with an even less impressive recent record. The last time The Boro tasted Premier League victory was in the middle of December – 11 matches ago.
The hosts find themselves in 17th spot, three points clear of the drop on 27 points, while the visitors lie in 19th on 22 points.
Hull City occupy the last of the relegation spots on 24 points. – TEAMtalk Media