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Manchester City vs Arsenal: What impact will FA Cup encounter have on the title race?

A crucial cup match and maybe something more....

Arsenal v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Mikel Arteta has insisted that the FA Cup meeting between Manchester City and Arsenal will have no bearing on the title race. But a first time meeting between the two sides this season could set the stage for a fight to finish in the title race.

Manchester City have been the better of the two sides in the last decade. But Arteta has engineered a resurgence at the Emirates Stadium this season that has surprised even himself. Suddenly, the Blues go into their encounter this evening somewhat as the underdogs with Arsenal leading the charge in the Premier League.

Such is how fast things can change in the game. With both sides set to face off three times in blockbuster games that could define the season for both clubs, the stakes could not have been higher. Now playing catch-up, City cannot lay down and let Arsenal have their way.

It’s a classic battle of master versus prodigy. Arteta is proving to have learnt well and has now become a master in his own right. It’s quite interesting that Arteta and Arsenal have emerged as the main challengers to Man City this season.

City now have their work cut out to overtake a side that has demonstrated champions quality in their approach to games. Guardiola has acknowledged the Gunners’ strength this term and is now bracing up his team for the challenge.

“It is a different competition, the FA Cup, it is a final. And, of course, more than Arsenal to prove ourselves how is our level,” Guardiola said in his pre-match press conference on Thursday.

“When the team makes 50 points after the first leg [first half of the season] it is because they have been the best. We have to prove how far away or how close we are and the best is to perform our own level. Otherwise it will be difficult.”

It’s obvious at this point that a win for either of the teams in their first meeting of the campaign will mean more than just another victory. It could well be the start of a new era if Arsenal emerge victorious. Or a time for the Blues to reaffirm their position as still the team to beat. Not just in the title race, but in the division's power rankings.

Victory will put the players in a better place psychologically as they battle to defend their title for yet another campaign.