In form Manchester City will be hoping to celebrate a Premier League century with a difference by inflicting the 100th top flight defeat on Queens Park Rangers.
With a perfect record in 2013 comprising five wins, 11 scored and none conceded, City head to Loftus Road looking for a re-run of recent encounters between the two sides, having emerged victorious and hitting three goals on each occasion.
If Roberto Mancini’s men can score first, the statistics at least, would suggest an away win. Whenever the Champions of England get ahead this season they tend to stay there, with 12 wins and a draw.
Conversely, Rangers have failed to win any of the 16 games where they have fallen behind.
The game should mark the 150th Premier League appearance for Joe Hart. The City keeper is back on track for the Golden Glove award, he has won for the past two seasons, for the highest number of clean sheets.
Constant changes of personnel and formations in the City back line had seen the team concede on a regular basis earlier in the season, undermining their title challenge.
But now, in the second half of the season, a settled back four of Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic and Clichy has rendered the City rearguard impenetrable since Boxing Day.
Injuries have decimated the unit ahead of the trip to West London, with Captain Fantastic Vincent Kompany missing with a calf strain and Matija Nastasic rated doubtful, with the knock that kept him out of the FA Cup win at Stoke.
It should mean a continuation at centre back for Javi Garcia, now showing why City paid Benfica £16.5 million last summer. Joleon Lescott will carry on from a towering display in the Battle of the Britannia at the weekend.
Rangers have fared better under Harry ‘Wanna buy a used Mondeo’ Redknapp, following the sacking of ex-City boss, Mark Hughes, but have still only managed a meagre eight goals in 11 home games all season.
New striker Loic Remy made a scoring debut following a reputed £8m switch from Marseille, but team mates Bobby Zamora, Junior Hoilett and former City favourite, Shaun Wright-Phillips could all be missing.
Adel Taarabt, still smarting from non- selection for Morocco at the African Cup of Nations could be a danger on the night, capable of brilliance and apathy in equal measure.
After being unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup 4-2 by the MK Dons, ‘Arry will be ringing the changes, desperate to take something from a fixture, with the odds stacked against the relegation battlers.
Allegedly the master of man management and motivation, ‘Arry the media darling, could have inadvertently done Mancini’s team talk by running his ‘norf and sarf’ casting aspersions on City and all the ‘egos in the dressing room’.
As Spur’s boss, ‘Arry was somewhat obsessive about City and the club’s wealth, constantly making jibes in his press conferences, as Tottenham and City tussled for Champions League places.
City have won six of their last seven PL games and half-a-dozen on their travels thus far. Contrast that with QPR’s solitary home win all season long, and it’d be a huge shock if the Sky Blues aren’t just two points behind their red rivals when Manure kick-off on Wednesday night.
With Samir Nasri set to be available it does at least give Mancini options in the attacking flair department but, on the strength of recent performances, James Milner more than warrants his place. A new four year deal will be signed this summer, tying ‘Jimmy’ to City for the best years of his career.
His ex-Villa and England colleague Gareth Barry has just a year left on his deal this summer and Txiki would be well advised to extent GB’s stay at the Etihad. He may be the wrong side of 30, but he has been more influential than the ‘indispensible’ Yaya Toure this term.
One man unlikely to figure at QPR is Mario Balotelli, who according to a City source, has handed in a transfer request to expedite a move to AC Milan this week. If true it means Aguero, Tevez and Dzeko will be vying for the two starting roles.
Given the fragility of QPR’s defence it may mean Mancini opting for the Argentine ground attack full of verve and vibrancy. Aguero, at least must surely start and there is always a case to play Tevez behind a front pairing of Sergio and Edin.
As a positive outcome in City’s pursuit of Edinson Cavani recedes this month, it still doesn’t detract from a growing confidence that a healthy City – with a returning Yaya – can grab the domestic game’s two top trophies come May.
Roberto Mancini would, at a stroke, become the most successful manager in the 119-year history of Manchester City, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke.
At the other end of the managerial spectrum, if ‘Arry presides over QPR’s PL demise he could be going to the dogs… and not the offshore bank account-opening bitch called Rosie.