FORMER Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott says it is imperative that they don't drop any more points before their English Premier League clash with leaders Arsenal.
Pep Guardiola's side missed the chance to close the gap at the top of the table on the Gunners, who were beaten by Everton at the weekend.
They remain five points behind Arsenal, chasing a third-successive title, and Lescott says it's important to not allow the distance to grow any larger before their first league meeting, at Emirates Stadium, on Wednesday, February 15.
That means this Sunday's game against Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium is a must-win fixture for the Cityzens.
"When you lose a game you want to play as soon as possible," Lescott said on Man City's Matchday Live show. "It's not a bad fixture for us at home as a club, especially after last season and what that did for winning the title.
"There's an opportunity to get back on to it and it's key now that Arsenal are the next team to drop points. I don't think we can afford to drop any more points before then."
Another former City player, Steph Houghton, who was also a guest on the programme, agrees that it is a must-win fixture, with the defender saying that a good performance would give the players confidence going into the trip to face Mikel Arteta's side.
"I think it is for a lot of reasons, not just to get back the points we lost against Spurs but also to breathe some confidence into the team and to have the mentality of coming off a good performance and scoring goals," she said.
"Getting back to keeping clean sheets is important and it lets you have the base to go out and attack. To get the crowd behind them and have a good performance would breathe so much confidence going into that Arsenal game."
Villa's last visit to Etihad was the final day of last season when City won the title with a 3-2 comeback, although they were held to a 1-1 draw in September.
Since then the Midlands side have changed manager, with Unai Emery taking charge, and Houghton expects them to provide a tough test.
"With the new manager coming in they will be a lot more organised and lot more structured," she said.
"At the same time, he likes to attack and to be a little bit open. They got beaten by Leicester at the weekend but it seemed a very close game.
"But, it's a chance to play at home at the Etihad Stadium and to get back on track and to what we've been missing these last few games."