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Man City run-in: Fixtures analysis

BUSINESS END: City are in the season run-in

BUSINESS END: City are in the season run-in

With just over a month to go, Man City's season is now very much into the business end, with a host of issues still to be decided between now and the end of May.

This weekend sees City travel to Wembley to take on Arsenal in an eagerly-awaited cup semi-final clash, with the winners taking on either league leaders Chelsea or second-placed Tottenham in the final on May 27.

And with six league games remaining – including four at the Etihad Stadium – fourth-placed City will be looking to cement a top four finish and so seal a place in next season’s Champions League.

Here we analyse our remaining fixtures and the various talking points surrounding the games.

Arsenal v City: Kick-off time, team news and TV info

Sun 23 April – FA Cup semi-final v Arsenal (Wembley)

Three weeks after contesting a hugely entertaining 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium, City and the Gunners will lock horns in the capital once again, this time with the prize of an FA Cup final place at stake.

Pep Guardiola’s side have already tasted success over Arsene Wenger’s side this season, after December’s 2-1 triumph at the Etihad which also sparked the emergence of Leroy Sane.

City last lifted the FA Cup back in 2011 and Guardiola has made no secret of how much he wants to repeat that feat.

Arsenal jointly hold the record for most FA Cup wins (12) with Manchester United and lifted the famous trophy in both 2014 and 2015.

But City will take confidence from both their current form as well as how well they have played against the Gunners this season as they target lifting the FA Cup for the sixth time.

By the time they play, City will know whether Chelsea or Spurs have won their semi-final which takes place the day before.

In the league meanwhile, fifth-placed Manchester United visit Burnley while third-placed Liverpool host Crystal Palace.

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Thurs 27 April – Manchester United (Etihad) - Premier League

Points rather than prizes will be at stake for this rare rescheduled Thursday night league clash but the latest Manchester derby will arguably still count as the biggest match of the season.

As well as the small matter of Manchester bragging rights, the latest derby also carries huge significance in terms of the race for the top-four.

Fifth-placed United are currently four points behind the Blues but with a game in hand, though with away fixtures to come at both Arsenal and title-chasing Spurs, Jose Mourinho’s side have a tough-looking run-in on paper.

City enjoyed a superb 2-1 success in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford last September and will know a similar result this time out could prove crucial in determining who secures the prize of Champions League football next season.

Other midweek games see Chelsea host Southampton on the Tuesday while Spurs visit Crystal Palace with Arsenal entertaining Leicester on the Wednesday.

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Sun 30 April – Middlesbrough (Riverside) – Premier League

Just 72 hours after the Manchester derby, City will make the journey to the Riverside Stadium for the second time in as many months.

The Blues have already tasted success on Teesside, having enjoyed a comfortable 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final win in the North East in March, a result that subsequently saw Boro boss Aitor Karanka relinquish control, with Steve Agnew replacing the Spaniard as caretaker boss.

And with second-bottom Boro in grave danger of an instant return to the Championship after last season’s promotion, City will look to show no mercy in the top four race – especially with second-placed Spurs hosting sixth-placed Arsenal later that day.

The other key fixtures see Manchester United host Swansea at noon on Sunday before Everton host Chelsea, while Liverpool visit Watford for a Monday night fixture.

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Sat 6 May – Crystal Palace (Etihad) – Premier League

Though Palace are still straining every sinew to secure their Premier League survival, City will be only too aware that this fixture is fraught with danger.

Palace’s fortunes have been transformed by the arrival of former England manager Sam Allardyce, who took over at Selhurst Park just after Christmas with the Eagles mired in trouble.

Slowly but surely his methods have yielded impressive results, most notably a stunning 2-1 win at leaders Chelsea earlier this month with winger Wilfried Zaha and striker Christian Benteke spearheading the Eagles’ remarkable revival.

However, City have already beaten Palace away both in the league and the FA Cup this season and a hat-trick of wins would be the perfect tonic going into the last week of the season.

Elsewhere, Liverpool entertain Southampton on the Sunday while Manchester United travel to Arsenal.

Spurs face a tricky trip to West Ham on Friday, May 4 with leaders Chelsea at home to Boro on the Monday night.

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Sat 13 May – Leicester City (Etihad) – Premier League

The defending Premier League champions will arrive in Manchester with their top-flight status looking all but secure after a roller-coaster campaign which saw the Foxes flirt with disaster when they dropped into the bottom three, part company with title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri yet become England’s last representatives in the Champions League.

For City, the fixture will offer the chance to atone for last December’s disappointing 4-2 loss at a rain-lashed King Power Stadium.

Given the Foxes also beat City 3-1 at the Etihad on their way to the winning the title last season, the Blues will also be eager for revenge ahead of their last two league fixtures.

And with Arsenal away at Stoke in the tea-time fixture before third-placed Liverpool face a tricky trip to West Ham with Manchester United away at Spurs the following day, if City do prevail it would be perfectly timed.

Chelsea are in action at West Brom on Friday, May 12.

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Tuesday 16 May – West Brom (Etihad) – Premier League

City’s final home fixture of the season falls on a Tuesday night and the Blues will be looking to provide a rousing midweek send-off for the Etihad supporters.

Currently lying in eighth spot, West Brom have enjoyed a successful campaign under the astute leadership of Tony Pulis and Guardiola has already spoken of how difficult a fixture he expects when the Baggies visit Manchester.

However, City produced a wonderful display in winning 4-0 at the Hawthorns last October and another three points could prove decisive in terms of securing that all-important top-four berth.

Arsenal host Sunderland that night while Manchester United travel to Southampton 24 hours later with Spurs away at Leicester on the Thursday evening.

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Sun 21 May – Watford (Vicarage Road) – Premier League

Depending on the outcome of Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final, City’s season could yet by extended by a week should they reach the final.

Regardless of that, however, Guardiola and his players will want to bring the curtain down on their league campaign in fitting style when City visit Vicarage Road.

Watford have blown hot and cold under Italian Walter Mazzarri but have proved a formidable obstacle on home soil so City will need to be at their best if they are emulate last December’s 2-0 home triumph against the Hornets and finish on a high.

The other significant final day fixtures see Chelsea welcome Sunderland, Arsenal host Everton, Spurs visit Hull, Liverpool entertain Middlesbrough and Manchester United play host to Crystal Palace.

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What the Media Says

Guardiola influence benefits Sane

HELPING HAND: Leroy Sane says Pep Guardiola has made him a better player.

There’s a youthful theme to Tuesday’s media round-up, with the newspapers carrying stories on Manchester City youngsters Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus.

Our flying winger is where we begin and with the German looking better in every week, he’s spoken of the impact Pep Guardiola has on his performances.

First Team News

Arsenal v Man City: Where to watch on TV

EL MAGO: David Silva on the ball

Find out where you can watch Arsenal v Man City in the FA Cup semi-final this weekend.

All the info you need to watch Arsenal v Man City wherever you are in the world.

What the Media Says

Media watch: Kompany and Toure reflect on Saints

LEADING THE PACK: Kompany returned to the starting line-up after being rested against Hull City.

It’s the start of a huge week for Manchester City with three semi-finals and FA Youth Cup final to come but most of the headlines are still focused on the Southampton victory.

Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure react to the victory over Southampton while the Independent look ahead to the FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal.