Arsene Wenger will hope to mark his 1000th match as Arsenal manager by eating into Chelsea’s four-point lead at the Premier League summit when the London rivals collide on Saturday.
It is nine years since Wenger last lifted a trophy, but Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend saw them close on Chelsea, who slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa.
Arsenal also have a game in hand on Jose Mourinho’s side, meaning that victory at Stamford Bridge would give them the upper hand on their cross-town foes as the title race enters the finishing straight.
With Arsenal also through to the FA Cup semi-finals, where they will play holders Wigan Athletic, Wenger admits he has allowed himself little time for nostalgic thoughts.
“It looks to me like I started yesterday. I can’t believe it is such a long time,” he said.
“Why? Because you’re always focused on looking forward to the next game and when you look back you think, ‘I made quite a distance there.'”
Mourinho faces a Football Association misconduct charge after being sent to the stands during the loss at Villa, but he enjoyed a more memorable outing on Tuesday when his side beat Galatasaray 2-0 to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
Chelsea’s setback at Villa Park also opened the door for second-place Liverpool and fourth-place Manchester City.
Like Arsenal, Liverpool are four points behind Chelsea with a game in hand, while City are potentially in an even stronger position, two points further back but with three matches in hand.
Liverpool recorded a fifth consecutive victory with a fine 3-0 win at Manchester United last weekend, but manager Brendan Rodgers has warned his players not to lose focus ahead of Saturday’s trip to second-bottom Cardiff City.
“We’ve got tough games right the way through. We’ll speak about the run-in when it is finished at the end of the season,” he said.
City faces rock-bottom Fulham at the Etihad Stadium, and midfielder Fernandinho knows that his side cannot afford to be distracted by thoughts of next week’s derby at United.
“Maybe we will start to talk about them on Monday, but now it’s all about Fulham,” the Brazilian said.
United stormed into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 3-0 win over Olympiakos on Wednesday, but remain at risk of getting cut adrift in the battle for a top-four place.
David Moyes’s side could be 15 points below the top four by the time they kick off at West Ham United on Saturday.