In track and field parlance Arsenal would have hoped its relentless pace over the last few laps of the Premier League race might have taken the sting out of sprint finish specialists Manchester City as the bell approaches.
Arsenal’s seven-match winning run in the league allowed it to maintain its lead over its pursuers, but it has simply not been able to crack Pep Guardiola’s side.
And this weekend it might well start to feel City’s hot breath on its back with the gap most likely to be cut to three points by the time it kicks off at relegation-threatened West Ham United on Sunday.
Reigning champion City has countered every Arsenal move in recent weeks and appears to be reaching top gear at the perfect time, just as it usually does.
Arsenal’s squandering of a 2-0 lead to just about escape with a 2-2 draw at Liverpool last weekend means City will host a demoralised Leicester City side on Saturday with the chance to ratchet up the pressure on the Londoners.
For 19th-placed Leicester’s newly-appointed interim manager Dean Smith it could hardly be a worse scenario as he attempts to pull the club out of a death spiral of seven defeats in their last eight league games.
Smith must find a way to halt a City side which has won nine successive games in all competitions, scoring 34 goals and conceding three in the process.
The way City demolished Bayern Munich on Tuesday to all but secure its place in the Champions League semifinals would have sent a shudder down the spines of Arsenal fans.
Guardiola said he aged 10 years during the 3-0 win over Bayern in which Erling Haaland set a new record for goals in a single season by a Premier League player.
But it is Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta who might well be feeling the strain this weekend as he tries to deliver the club’s first English title since 2004.
Arsenal was superb in the opening 35 minutes at Anfield, so much so that victory looked assured.
By the end, however, there was a slight sense of panic as Liverpool surged all over the Gunners and would have won but for some stupendous stoppage-time saves by Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale.
West Ham’s win at Fulham last weekend left it three points above the relegation zone and it could be an awkward obstacle for Arsenal although Arteta’s side has proven to be the masters of away London derbies this season, winning all five.
Third-placed Newcastle United kicks off the weekend with a trip to in-form Aston Villa, which has risen into sixth place.
Newcastle is level on 56 points with fourth-placed Manchester United, which visits third-from-bottom Nottingham Forest on Sunday without injured Marcus Rashford.
Fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur’s top-four hopes remain intact despite the despondency at the club, and the sacking of Antonio Conte and victory over Bournemouth on Saturday would keep them in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
Time would appear to be running out for bottom club Southampton, which is four points shy of the safety zone and which welcomes a resurgent Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Everton, clear of the relegation zone on goal difference, can relieve some pressure with a home game against a faltering Fulham side which has lost four league games in a row.
Frank Lampard seeks his first win since returning as interim manager to Chelsea with a home game against Brighton and Hove Albion although his focus may be more on next Tuesday’s Champions League quarterfinal second leg against Real Madrid.