After last Sunday's League Cup final defeat to Manchester City, one feels that Arsene Wenger would be quite happy to never have to face Pep Guardiola's Manchester City side ever again.

The way the fixture list has worked out, he has not been that lucky.

The side that dismantled Arsenal so easily just a few days ago in Wembley will make the trip back down from Manchester to London, except this time to play at the Emirates in another competition where they are already Champions-elect; the Premier League.

Sitting an enormous 25 points ahead of Arsenal at the peak of the table, this is a very intimidating fixture - City are undoubtedly the best team in England at the moment, and Wenger and his side got to see that first-hand on Friday, when they made very short work of the Gunners in the 3-0 cup defeat.

Following the cup final, many reporters have noted that City, although brilliant, were not even playing at their very best against Arsenal - that, even though they won convincingly, there was more in-the-tank… That Kevin De Bruyne wasn't his usual clinical self; that the excellent David Silva played an 8-out-of-10 kind of game when he regularly plays a nine. From an Arsenal point of view, this isn't good.

A very damning stat from Arsenal’s point of view is that they have competed in 12 matches in 2018 across 4 different competitions and there record from those games is won 5, lost 5 and drew 2 – at least 1 loss in each competition. Very poor.

One of the more fascinating aspects of this match-up is the crowd. Arsenal have had down patches before - plenty of them - but with 70 minutes gone of the cup final, there was a mass walk-out by supporters. What will be interesting is the crowd that shows up to the Emirates on Thursday night - will there be a United front, or will people question what the point of attending a seemingly already determined loss against a side that weren't far off humiliating them in a bigger match just 4 days ago. I'm afraid I suspect it will be the latter.

Much of the build-up to this game has been dominated by talk of the manager himself – Wenger, and whether he will complete his contract at the club. It’s a (very) well-worn conversation at this stage – and almost as common as talk of Wenger leaving is Arsenal having strong finishes to their season, when it’s slightly too late.

Off the field, the news has been dominated by the weather – snow has covered the UK, and it is very possible that this game may be postponed as a result. The unusual affair of a Thursday night game is evidence enough, however, that this is a match that needs to be played soon due to the fixture congestion of both sides in Europe. That, and the state-of-the-art facilities available at the Emirates – including undersoil heating - would make one think that this game will be played on the night, although conditions may be very bad. The stands will be open to snow though, and it the job of the official, not the club, who makes the call as to whether the game is safe to play.

In terms of team news, Nacho Monreal, who went off in the cup final after a mistimed challenge on Kyle Walker early on is expected to be unavailable for Thursday night’s game.

Returning to the team, however, is Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who was unavailable in the previous fixture due to being cup tied having played for Manchester United in the competition, and the Armenian will hopefully bring an impact to the team.

Joining him in returning will be goal keeper Petr Cech, and while the goals conceded in Sunday’s tie weren’t stand-in David Ospina’s fault necessarily, it will nice to have the veteran Czech stopper back between the sticks.

For the visitors, it appears that Fernandinho will be unable to feature after suffering a hamstring injury on Wednesday. Joining him as a doubt is Raheem Sterling, with both players unlikely to be risked against the Gunners.

Unavailable once more following his sending off in the FA Cup defeat against Wigan Athletic is Fabian Delph who serves the second game of a three-game suspension.

The return of Gabriel Jesus for a cameo appearance last Sunday will have pleased Guardiola, with the Brazilian striker having been absent for 2 months and is now available once more.

Jesus will offer assistance if required for Sergio Aguero, who has gone from strength to strength while his colleague was out, and put any doubts as to whether he could “play” in a Pep Guardiola team to bed. The Argentinian was on the scoresheet on Sunday with a deft lob following a Skhrodan Mustafi mistake, and will pose a massive threat for the Mancunian’s.

The case of Mustafi’s error is one that must be addressed – Arsenal were incredibly poor at tracking back in the cup final, and it lead to two of the three goals, with Silva taking advantage of Sead Kolasinac’s positioning for the third goal. It will likely be a similar team that is fielded on Thursday, so hopefully some the defensive issues have been ironed out.

This is the first league game since the Wembley defeat at Spurs, and following the game there will only be 10 league matches remaining – the first of those coming at Brighton on Sunday. Every point is vital at this stage, but with eight points between Arsenal and 5th place Chelsea, dropping points could mean the league season has finished long before it has officially done so.

This has all been very negative, but it’s hard not to be – if Arsenal do pull off a coup and defeat City at the Emirates on Thursday, it will be a fantastic result for the club; currently unbeaten in four home games, stranger things have happened – but rarely has a win seemed less likely.

Arsenal play Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Thursday the 1st of March with kick-off scheduled to take place at 19.45.