After both suffered excruciating one-goal losses in midweek, relegation-threatened Luton Town and a faltering Manchester City will square off at Kenilworth Road on Sunday afternoon in the Premier League.
The Hatters fell victim to a sensational Arsenal comeback in a 4-3 defeat to the league leaders, while the reigning champions deserved nothing against Aston Villa and got exactly that in a 1-0 beating.
Having held Liverpool to a draw at Kenilworth Road while also restricting a then-rampant Tottenham Hotspur to just a 1-0 win, there was quiet optimism that Luton could add another twist to the title tale when Arsenal made the trip to their humble home on Tuesday evening.
Elijah Adebayo and Ross Barkley were the beneficiaries of two David Raya howlers as Luton came from behind to lead 3-2, having seen Gabriel Osho's first-half strike cancelled out by his namesakes Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli, but a Kai Havertz leveller preceded a heartbreaking header from Declan Rice seven minutes into injury time.
As ecstatic Arsenal fans collapsed over the advertising hoardings, the Luton faithful were left dumbstruck and dejected, but Rob Edwards still managed to cut a relatively calm figure after the game, having witnessed his newly-promoted side go toe-to-toe with the league leaders for 97 minutes.
As praiseworthy as the hosts' efforts were, a 10th defeat from 15 games this season leaves Edwards's men below the dotted line in 18th place owing to Everton's surprise beating of Newcastle United on Thursday, and they remain without a single top-flight clean sheet all season long.
However, finding the net in six of their last seven games - including each of their last three - offers a small sliver of hope that they can right their recent wrongs this weekend, and their visitors could have done with taking a leaf out of Luton's attacking book at Villa Park.
Thirteen times Unai Emery had come face-to-face with Pep Guardiola in the dugout, and 13 times the former Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain and Villarreal head coach failed to win, but his vibrant Villa outfit played the treble winners off the park in the West Midlands and were belatedly rewarded in the second period.
Man City rode their luck for 74 minutes before coming unstuck, as Leon Bailey's drive ballooned off of Ruben Dias's toe into the back of the net, and the Citizens - who only fired a paltry two shots on goal throughout the contest - were highly fortunate not to lose by more at Villa Park.
After Erling Haaland was denied by a fine Emiliano Martinez double save in the first half, Man City's attacking threat was totally nullified as their alarming winless run stretched to four matches in the Premier League, leaving them down in fourth place in the winter rankings.
While their attacking return of 36 goals remains unrivalled, Guardiola's under-performing troops now have a six-point disadvantage to make up to leaders Arsenal and travel to Luton having only won one of their last five Premier League away contests, losing three of them.
The visitors will be forced to lift a different curse if they are to pull themselves out of their rut this weekend, as Luton have remarkably won their last seven home league games against the reigning top-flight champions since a 2-1 loss to Liverpool in 1985, but they have failed to overcome City in each of their last nine league attempts.
Luton received a timely double defensive boost before the visit of Arsenal, as Alfie Doughty shook off the hip concern which saw him sit out the loss to Brentford, while Teden Mengi also battled back from a knee problem to make the first XI.
Albert Sambi Lokonga could not face his parent club in midweek but could now be back in the fold too, having entered the final stages of his recovery from a thigh concern, while Tom Lockyer (back) and Marvelous Nakamba (knee) are also listed as touch-and-go at the time of writing.
However, Man City loanee Issa Kabore is ineligible for this encounter, while Mads Andersen (hamstring), Reece Burke (thigh), Cauley Woodrow (calf) and Dan Potts (ankle) are also out for the Hatters, who should not deviate too much from the side that gave Arsenal a terrific run for their money.
As for the Citizens, Guardiola will welcome both Rodri and Jack Grealish back from suspension with open arms for the trip to Luton - the former's presence was sorely missed against Villa - but long-term hamstring victim Kevin De Bruyne will miss out again.
There is also a question mark surrounding the fitness of Jeremy Doku, who sat out the loss to the Lions with the knock he sustained against Tottenham last weekend, but the Belgian winger is not believed to be nursing anything serious.
Rodri's return to the XI ought to see Rico Lewis drop back down to the substitutes' bench, and Guardiola may also give consideration to a defensive recall for Nathan Ake as he desperately searches for solutions to his side's plateau.
Luton Town possible starting lineup:
Kaminski; Bell, Osho, Mengi; Ogbene, Barkley, Mpanzu, Doughty; Townsend, Adebayo, Morris
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Dias, Ake; Stones, Rodri; Silva, Alvarez, Foden, Grealish; Haaland
We say: Luton Town 0-3 Manchester City
While Luton command immense respect after putting three past Arsenal, they had Raya's error-strewn display to thank for two of those strikes, and a wounded Man City are often an impossible beast to tame.
A well-rested Rodri normally spells success for Guardiola's men, and in spite of the Hatters' commendable efforts at Kenilworth Road thus far, they should put up little resistance on Sunday.
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