City find themselves in a curious position.
Their draw against Crystal Palace on Saturday all but ended their involvement in the Premier League title race – if it wasn’t already ended – and they will now surely focus on the Holy Grail of Champions League football.
It almost allows them to throw off the shackles and let loose in the league.
On their day, City are the best team in Europe as they proved in their first half obliteration of Manchester United in the League Cup semi-final and, playing without the pressure of a title race, could easily turn in an equally devastating performance on any given day.
They will not find it easy to do so at Bramall Lane on Tuesday night.
Sheffield United continue to defy all doubters as they look set to coast to Premier League safety and a top ten finish. If Liverpool were not on course for a record-breaking season, Chris Wilder would be a shoo-in for manager of the season.
The Blades with a far greater purpose than three-quarters of the league and posed City a plethora of problems at the Etihad over Christmas, only to be undone by some harsh VAR decisions.
They have unusually been better on the road than at home, however, and have suffered four of their six league defeats in front of their own supporters.
City could hurt them on Tuesday.
The relegation six-pointers keep coming at the bottom end of the table.
You get the sense that it is a far bigger game for Villa than it is for Watford.
Dean Smith’s side have been drifted through recent league games and only have two wins from their last ten outings in the top-flight. They have a truly horrible run of upcoming fixtures and a win against a relegation rival is imperative.
Watford, on the other hand, have been on an upward curve ever since Nigel Pearson took the reins and have gone from relegation certainties to likely survivors in a matter of weeks.
The Hornets have collected 14 points from their last six games – only Liverpool have collected more – and they were a missed penalty away from beating Spurs at the weekend.
That winning run included a thumping 3-0 win against Villa at Vicarage Road just after Christmas and a repeat of that performance would be a huge step towards securing their safety.
Villa should use the magnitude of the occasion in front of a home crowd on a cold Tuesday evening to raise their game, however, to avoid defeat at the very least.
If any club is in need of a win on Tuesday night, it is Bournemouth.
Eddie Howe’s side are in freefall and are staring relegation in the face for the first time since winning promotion in 2015.
The Cherries have collected just one point from their last six games and have conceded a total of eight goals in their last three games – all against direct relegation rivals.
Worryingly for Bournemouth, they still have games against all of the current Premier League top nine to come and they simply must win this game against one of the teams they could feasibly catch before May.
Brighton have only one win from their last eight, but they have endured a difficult run of fixtures and not disgraced themselves in the slightest. They have lost three of those eight games – against Everton, Sheffield United and Tottenham – and drawn with both Wolves and Chelsea.
Their one win, coincidentally, came against Tuesday’s opponents and such is the slump Bournemouth find themselves in that this represents a golden opportunity for Brighton to improve their recent league record.
With Bournemouth in disarray, Brighton should capitalise and signal a death knell for the Cherries’ Premier League status.
*All odds correct at time of posting