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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says Man City game not Premier League title decider but perfection now required

Arsenal have a five-point lead over Manchester City heading into Wednesday's Premier League title showdown; Watch free match highlights from Man City vs Arsenal shortly after full-time across Sky Sports' digital platforms

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Mikel Arteta says that Arsenal's game against Manchester City won't define their season and revealed he hasn't spoken to Pep Guardiola since they last played each other

Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal's trip to face Manchester City on Wednesday is not a Premier League title decider - but concedes his side now have to be perfect in order to stay top of the table.

City and Arsenal go into their potential Premier League title decider both on long unbeaten runs but with momentum perhaps swinging towards City.

Arteta's side are on a run of three dramatic draws in succession, and with questions being asked over their nerve in the run-in.

They led 2-0 early on against both Liverpool and West Ham, only to be pegged back and draw 2-2. Against Southampton, by contrast, they trailed 2-0 and 3-1 before scoring twice in the last three minutes to salvage a 3-3 draw.

They had won seven straight league games previously, including three in a row by three-goal margins, giving them 24 points from a possible 30.

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Paul Merson believes that Arsenal need to not lose against Manchester City if they want to win the title while Sue Smith thinks Pep Guardiola's team look 'unstoppable'

That run was interrupted by a Europa League exit on penalties to Sporting Lisbon, drawing both legs of the last-16 tie, but they remain unbeaten in 10 league games - one more than City, and scoring three goals or more in seven of those games - and 12 in all competitions.

Arteta said: "If we win tomorrow night we haven't won the league, that's for sure. It will shift the percentages a little bit, but with five games left after this, it will still be very tricky.

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"We wanted to close that gap as much as we could and we're toe-to-toe with them. We knew we had to go to the Etihad. Is it going to define the season? The answer is no.

"Mentality plays a huge part. Obviously, the belief is there. When I look at how they train and the way they've reacted, the mood in the dressing room and the way they defend each other, we really want it.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the draw between Arsenal and Southampton

"We're going to show that again tomorrow night. But we have to deliver in the right moment with the right performance and it has to be perfection because that's what this last level demands - absolute perfection."

City are unbeaten in 16 games in all competitions since losing to Tottenham in early February, with 13 wins and three draws in that run.

The only team to take a point off them in the league in that time are, remarkably, relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest, who claimed a 1-1 draw in February courtesy of Chris Wood's late equaliser. City have won their other eight league games in that run, earning 25 points out of the last 27 available.

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admits he's disappointed to have dropped two points at home to Southampton but is pleased with how they fought back from two goals down

Such form in the run-in is nothing new to City, and the similarity to last season is looking uncanny. Then they lost to Spurs in February and were unbeaten thereafter, with nine wins and three draws seeing them to the title a point ahead of Liverpool.

"They've been in this incredible form but if you look at the table, it shows we have been too," added Arteta.

"It's going to be a tough night and challenge, but the opportunity is an incredible one for us. We have to go to Man City and we have to beat them. If we want to be champions, we have to win these matches. It's as simple as that."

William Saliba
Image: William Saliba is still out of contention through injury

Arteta has confirmed that defender William Saliba will not be fit to face City due to his ongoing back problems which is likely to also rule him out of facing Chelsea at the weekend.

Midfielder Granit Xhaka, who missed the draw with Southampton, is also a doubt but was set to train on Tuesday while Arteta confirmed there were no other injury concerns.

Arteta: We know what Man City can do

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Arsenal fan Robbie Lyle and Manchester City fan Lawrence Bury (aka Buvey) share a fiery debate as both clubs chase the Premier League title

During the 2018/19 season, City won their final 14 games to again beat Liverpool by a point - the Reds themselves won their last nine and were unbeaten in 17 after their ultimately crucial January defeat to City.

The 2017/18 title was won in a procession by Pep Guardiola's men but City still won five and drew one of their last six games to finish with a record 100 points.

Saturday's FA Cup semi-final win keeps them in the hunt for a treble, with a derby final against Manchester United to come and a Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.

Image: Watch free match highlights of Man City vs Arsenal after full time

Erling Haaland's run of 15 goals in seven games ended against Sheffield United but he has seven goals and two assists in City's nine-game unbeaten league run, including doubles against Southampton and Leicester.

"We are working on City's threats and weaknesses," said Arteta.

"We know what they are. With them it starts with the goalkeeper. We just have to focus on us. We know what they can do. They can do so many things that you have to be adaptable."

Pep: I'm a trainer - Arteta is a manager

Wednesday's match will pit Guardiola against his 'apprentice' and former assistant Arteta for the third time this season. City have won both of the previous two matches, including a straightforward 3-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium in February.

Even so, the rise of Arsenal under Arteta has been meteoric, from missing out on Champions League football altogether last season to leading the table with six games to go, and Guardiola pinpointed exactly how he felt his old colleague had changed things in north London.

"The development of Arsenal since Mikel has taken over has been obvious." he said. "When you talk about the word manager - I'm a trainer, a football trainer. Not a manager.

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Pep Guardiola says no one can deny how important Manchester City's game is against Arsenal, as well as heaping praise on Mikel Arteta's side

"I had the feeling that Mikel changed the structure of the club, the mentality, not just the formations or the build-up on the pitch.

"He's made lots of decisions, changed lots of players, with a lot of support from the hierarchy I assume, and that's why the success is there.

"He's brought Arsenal from the position they were back into the top six, or now a top eight to fight for the Premier League with Newcastle having joined. Every year it will be more and more difficult, and in the last years Arsenal were never there [near the title], they were always far, far away.

"Last season they were close to reaching the top four, and now they have made another step because all season they have been up there. We've been there for the last month, two months, but they have been there all season. Their consistency has been really good."

Carra: Arsenal need something miraculous to win title

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After dropping another two points at home to Southampton, Jamie Carragher believes Arsenal will have to do something 'really special' in order to win the Premier League title

Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher:

"Whether the point makes that much difference to Arsenal, I'm not quite sure. They've probably got to go to Man City and get three points if they want to go on and win the league. It is still in Arsenal's hands, and we keep saying it, and it just shows you how far ahead they were.

"They've dropped six points in the last three games, and it is still in their hands. They did have a really sizeable lead, but they are going to have to do something miraculous now between now and the end of the season. But we've seen them go on runs before, certainly on the back of losing to Man City at Emirates Stadium.

"That was a big disappointment, but they went on to win the next seven games. They've got six games to go now, and they will have to go and do something special between now and the end of the season to win it."

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Sky Sports News' Peter Smith and Dharmesh Sheth analyse Manchester City's 3-0 victory over Sheffield United and assess their chances of achieving the treble

How to follow Man City vs Arsenal on Sky Sports

Follow Man City vs Arsenal in our dedicated live blog across Sky Sports' digital platforms, including build-up, match analysis and post-match reaction.

Free match highlights will also be available shortly after full-time on the Sky Sports website, app and YouTube channel.

You can also watch all the build-up to Man City vs Arsenal throughout the day on Sky Sports News, plus match updates and post-match reaction across the channel.

Arsenal's remaining fixtures

April 26: Man City (A) - Premier League, kick-off 8pm

May 2: Chelsea (H) - Premier League, kick-off 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports

May 7: Newcastle (A) - Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports

May 13: Brighton (H) - Premier League, kick-off 3pm

May 20: Nottingham Forest (A) - Premier League, kick-off 3pm

May 28: Wolves (H) - Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm

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