Arsenal vs Manchester City: FA Cup Preview and Prediction
After pulling off a surprise 2-1 win over the 2019-2020 Premier League champions Liverpool, Arsenal will suit up at Wembley to face the mighty Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals.
The Citizens were the first side that the Gunners faced when football restarted in England and it was not a smooth outing for Mikel Arteta’s men.
David Luiz had one of the worst defensive performances in history as his first error directly led to a goal and he later conceded a penalty and received a straight red. In a game where Pablo Mari and Granit Xhaka had to be stretchered off, 10-man Arsenal could barely withstand Manchester City’s onslaught.
Things have improved for Arsenal since then and they have looked a more cohesive unit. They were uncharacteristically solid at the back in the win over Liverpool – something that Arteta would like more of.
That being said, Guardiola and City have also been on a solid run. They have had their blips – the losses to Southampton and Chelsea – but have also put on some seriously effective displays, the best of which was the 4-0 win on Liverpool’s coronation day.
Arsenal will be missing the services of Cedric Soares for this game. The Portuguese full-back is cup-tied in the FA Cup as he was knocked out of the tournament while playing for Southampton earlier this season.
Eddie Nketiah will also play no part as he is serving a three-match ban for the straight red he received against Leicester City. This will, however, be his final game out of action.
For City, the only absence will be that of talismanic striker Sergio Aguero. The Argentine twisted his knee and is sidelined for the remainder of the season.
David Luiz vs Raheem Sterling
Luiz was the primary culprit for Arsenal’s loss to Manchester City in June. While the rest of the side was playing competently, Luiz’s fatal errors contributed directly to the loss.
Due to lack of quality players in defense, Arteta is likely to field Luiz and it will be interesting to see how he performs. The Brazilian has shown improvement while playing in a three-man defense but a mindless error is always on the horizon when he’s in the XI.
Raheem Sterling will prove to be a formidable opponent for the former Chelsea defender. Sterling has been City’s highest goalscorer this season and also scored a hat-trick in Manchester City’s 5-0 win over Brighton.
Sterling will be a mismatch for Luiz as the Englishman’s electric pace and dribbling give him a significant advantage over Luiz. Adopting a ‘park-the-bus’ strategy might work for the Gunners in this game.
Dani Ceballos vs Kevin de Bruyne
Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos’ assist numbers might not be impressive but he does serve as an important creative force for Arsenal.
The Spaniard is capable of producing defence-piercing passes that allows Arsenal’s wingers to trouble opposing defenders.
Against de Bruyne, however, Ceballos will likely have to function in a deeper role and showcase more of his defensive game.
De Bruyne is having a phenomenal individual season and Arsenal have felt the damage he does on multiple occasions. In the last meeting between the sides, the Belgian scored and also orchestrated City’s game.
You can expect the Belgian to continue in the same vein tonight.
With six wins in the pair’s last six meetings, Manchester City are firm favorites to win this game. The fact that they have only conceded once in this duration speaks volumes of their dominance over the Gunners.
Arsenal are capable of a surprise, however. After two back-to-back losses to Manchester City and Brighton, the Gunners have regrouped and are looking a better unit on the pitch. Barring any major errors like that of Luiz, expect Arteta to give troubles to his former boss.
Still, I see Manchester City defeating the Gunners and progressing to the finals and facing the winner of Manchester United vs Chelsea. Arsenal will create opportunities for themselves but getting the dub would be next to impossible.
Predicted scoreline: Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City