It's all or nothing for City AND Arsenal in February

Both Manchester City and Arsenal face a nightmare fixture list in February, which could go a long way to determining their success this season.

Just when you thought things couldn't get any tougher for Arsenal and Manchester City, the FA Cup draw was announced.

Here are the two top teams in the Premier League table, who have fought relentlessly to stay ahead of the chasing pack (only very narrowly staying ahead of Chelsea) and make it into the last 16 of the Champions League.

You'd think they were due a break?

As if. February will be anything but for either.

City, for instance, start the month hosting Jose Mourinho's Chelsea at the Etihad, only days after ending January with a trip to White Hart Lane.

But that's not the only dose of navy blue Manuel Pellegrini's men will get before March, with Chelsea visiting once more in the FA Cup on February 15th - just three days before they host Barcelona in Europe.

City's second leg against the Spanish champions will be in March - but you get the sense their first tie will go a long way to determine whether they have any chance of progression.

If you think that's a tough fixture list, however, (City also face Norwich, Sunderland and Stoke in February) just look at Arsenal's.

Arsene Wenger's men start the month at home to Crystal Palace but then travel to Anfield, before facing Manchester United at the Emirates and hosting Liverpool again in the FA Cup. Then comes a Champions League tie against European and German champions against Bayern.

No pressure there, then?

Indeed, it looks as though both sides' title credentials will be severely tested on all fronts during February, as City prove their candidacy for the revered "quadruple," while Arsenal's Premier League title bid is put through its paces.

Both sides will also have to fight extremely hard if they want to add cup silverware to their trophy cabinets, with a reward that may well see them face each other at a later stage if they come through their respective tests against Chelsea and Liverpool.

Mental and physical strength, then, will be required, while as much emphasis as possible must be placed on both Pellegrini and Wenger. How will they handle such a nightmare calendar? Will they get their tactics right and will they rotate the right players at the right times?

A good showing in February may well be a step towards ultimate glory this season. But a failure to keep up with the face could be disastrous for both.

Who will come through February better - City or Arsenal?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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