The Premier League takes a backseat this weekend with the semi-finals of the FA Cup stepping up to the plate on Saturday and Sunday. Arsenal take on Manchester City in Saturday’s big match as both teams bid for a return to Wembley.
Wembley will be the scene for both semi-final matches and on Saturday evening Arsenal take on Manchester City for the right to return to the famous stadium in the final. It is another opportunity for Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta to lock horns with mentor Pep Guardiola and a chance to end a dismal run for the Gunners against the Citizens.
IMPROVING ARSENAL STILL VULNERABLE
Arsenal have been a decent run of form and Arteta has certainly got the best out of his players since the restart of the Premier League where they have lost just one of their last seven matches at home which includes a defeat of newly-crowned League champions Liverpool in midweek.
That win did flatter the Gunners however with them only having 30% possession, while defensive errors gifted both goals and goalkeeper Martinez pulled off a last-gasp wonder save to deny the Reds a share of the points. With only three shots on goal to Liverpool’s 24 shots it gives an indication that Arsenal perhaps got lucky.
City also come into the game in decent form from the League, recently thumping the same Liverpool 4-0 at the Etihad and the Citizens put five past Brighton on their latest away match. They’ve been flawless in knockout competitions despite a measure of inconsistency in their League form although they also won their latest match when overcoming a stubborn Bournemouth in midweek.
Bournemouth played a similar tactic to Arsenal’s high-pressing style in Wednesday’s match as they fight for League survival and it certainly caused some problems although it is noteworthy that Guardiola elected to rest Kevin De Bruyne and Aymeric Laporte, while Raheem Sterling started on the bench.
MANCHESTER CITY RECORD AGAINST ARSENAL SWINGS THE BALANCE
Arsenal are on a dismal run against Manchester City with the Citizens having lost their last seven encounters with Guardiola’s men with City hitting the net three times in six of those matches. Arsenal last beat City at this stage in 2017 so can take some heart from that achievement although City have won all four domestic cup competitions since.
Manchester City have thumped the Gunners 3-0 in both league matches this term, barely coming out of third gear on the second occasion which came in the first game back following the coronavirus lockdown and Arsenal will need to step up if they are to halt that poor record against Pep Guardiola’s team.
Arsenal have scored just once in their last six matches against Manchester City, conceding 17 goals and will need a big effort to prevent another defeat although they are in decent goal-scoring form having hit the back of the net 11 times in their last six matches in the league.
The Manchester City defence will prove a stubborn unit to break down, especially with Aymeric Laporte returning to the heart of the rearguard. The City defence has looked more assured when the Frenchman plays and City have conceded only twice in their last six matches although Laporte was rested in midweek.
BOTH TEAMS CAN SCORE
Goals are expected with Arsenal having found the net at least once in all but one of their last 15 matches, although their poor record of scoring against City remains a concern. City meanwhile have been scoring for fun and have averaged three goals per game since the restart and their potent frontline is expected to breach Arsenal’s vulnerable back-line again.
BIG MATCH VERDICT
Despite being flattered by their win over Liverpool in midweek, Arsenal got some joy out of their high pressing tactics and are likely to adopt similar against City who play a similar game to the newly-crowned League champions by building from the back.
City struggled to get going against a high-pressing Bournemouth in midweek but it is noted that the Blues rested some key players and will prove an altogether different proposition now the likes of De Bruyne and Laporte return.
But their record against the Gunners speaks volumes while their free-scoring attack is unlikely to be found wanting for goals given their impressive strike-rate since the restart. Arsenal’s last win over City came at this same stage in the 2017 competition; but City have been rampant since over the Gunners and are expected to come out on top again.
Arsenal have been the most ill-tempered side in the League and with a Wembley Final at stake their temperament could boil over again.
Bet 1: Manchester City to win, over 3 goals combined, both teams to score YES @ +250 (Bet365)
Bet 2: Arsenal over 2.5 cards @ +120 (Bet365)
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