Manchester City fans are sweating on the fitness of goal machine Erling Haaland ahead of their key home Premier League game against Liverpool on Saturday.
With Arsenal eight points clear of second-placed City, the champions need to take three from Juergen Klopp’s side in the early kick-off to ensure the Gunners do not take their lead into double figures.
Arsenal, who have 10 games remaining and are chasing a first championship since 2003-04, host Leeds United later on Saturday.
Norwegian striker Haaland, who has scored an astonishing 42 goals in 37 matches for City since joining from Borussia Dortmund, is nursing a groin injury and missed training on Thursday as players returned from the international break.
Haaland’s father Alfie told last week it looked “touch and go” whether the striker would be back in time for the Liverpool game. “You can’t just go two weeks without training and then jump right into a fight,” he said.
His absence, with Phil Foden also out after appendix surgery, will be welcomed by Arsenal supporters as much as Liverpool, sixth in the table and still in the hunt for a Champions League place.
Arsenal play Liverpool at Anfield on April 9 and City at the Etihad Stadium on April 26 in a revenge clash after losing to their rivals at the Emirates in February.
“We cannot control the outcome of other clubs, all we can control is what we do every single day,” said manager Mikel Arteta.
“Now it has to be about enjoying the last part of the season, with a real hunger to continue to do what we’ve done, and if possible better.”
City have a match in hand on the leaders but have played one more than third-placed Manchester United, who are at Newcastle United on Sunday and are 11 points further adrift.
Fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur have former assistant coach Cristian Stellini in charge for their trip to struggling Everton on Monday after parting ways with Antonio Conte last Sunday.
The battle at the bottom is tighter than ever, with nine clubs separated by just four points and the weekend promises a further shake-up.