Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester City - prediction, team news, lineups

sportsmole.co.uk, 16 July 2020, 08:22

Arsenal and Manchester City will lock horns in the semi-finals of the FA Cup on Saturday night with both teams determined to book their spot in the showpiece final.

City are the holders of the competition, having landed their sixth title last season, but Arsenal are the most successful team in FA Cup history, lifting the famous trophy on 13 occasions.

Match preview

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Arsenal recorded a morale-boosting 2-1 win over Liverpool in the Premier League on Wednesday night, but they remain ninth in the Premier League table and will have to rely on other teams dropping points if they are to secure a spot in the Europa League for the 2020-21 campaign.

The Gunners would be guaranteed a position in the group stages of the European competition if they win the FA Cup, though, and the fact that head coach Mikel Arteta shuffled his pack against Liverpool suggests that he is very much prioritising this competition.

Having taken just a point from their two games against Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur between July 7 and July 12, it was vital that the London club picked up a positive result against the champions.

There is no question that there is work to be done this summer, but it would be a special finish to the season for the club if they could manage to lift the FA Cup, particularly considering that they will need to get past Man City in the semi-finals and then either Chelsea or Manchester United in the final.

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Arsenal have beaten Leeds United, Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Sheffield United in this season's FA Cup, and they will be bidding to reach the final of the famous tournament for a record 21st time.

As mentioned, the Gunners are 13-time winners of the competition, the last of which came in 2017, when they overcame Chelsea courtesy of goals from Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey. The capital giants have lost to Nottingham Forest and Man United in the last two seasons but are one step away from another final.

The omens are not exactly terrific for Arteta's side as they have lost each of their last seven games against City in all competitions, including 3-0 defeats in both Premier League games during the 2019-20 campaign.

The London club did win the last FA Cup clash between the two sides, though, recording a 2-1 victory in the semi-finals of the 2016-17 competition before beating Chelsea in the final, and they will be hoping for a repeat of that in the latter stages of this season's tournament.

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City, though, will not be in the mood to relinquish their control of the trophy as they have already missed out on the Premier League title this season due to Liverpool's incredible campaign.

Pep Guardiola 's side have already won the EFL Cup this term, though, and are on course to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League, having recorded a 2-1 victory away to Real Madrid in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Lifting the EFL Cup, FA Cup and Champions League would certainly go down as a hugely successful campaign for the club, even taking into the account the disappointment of their Premier League season.

City will enter this weekend's match off the back of a 2-1 win over Bournemouth in the Premier League on Wednesday night, and they have been victorious in all three of their matches since a surprise 1-0 defeat away to Southampton on July 5.

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Guardiola's team have beaten Port Vale, Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United in this season's FA Cup to advance to the final, and they are bidding to win the competition for the seventh time in their history.

Another FA Cup would move them level with Liverpool and Aston Villa in terms of trophies won, with only Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Man United and Arsenal ahead of them.

The fact that either Chelsea or Man United will be waiting in the final makes this semi-final even more special, and there is simply no downplaying the importance of the match to the two sides, who have both struggled for consistency during their respective Premier League seasons.

City will be feeling pretty good about themselves at the moment, having learned on Monday that their two-year European suspension had been overturned, and they will be determined to continue their excellent record over Arsenal when the two teams lock horns on Saturday night.

Arsenal FA Cup form: WLWWWW

Arsenal form (all competitions): WWWDLW

Man City FA Cup form: WWWWWW

Man City form (all competitions): WWLWWW

Team News

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Arsenal will again be without the services of Bernd Leno, Gabriel Martinelli, Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers through injury, while Eddie Nketiah will serve the final game of his three-match suspension.

Mesut Ozil could be involved after a back issue, although it would be a surprise to see the German in the starting XI as there does not seem to be a spot available for him in Arteta's 3-4-3 formation.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Dani Ceballos both started on the bench against Liverpool but will now return to the starting side, while Hector Bellerin and Shkodran Mustafi should also make the XI.

Kieran Tierney could be preferred to Sead Kolasinac as part of a three-man defence, allowing Bukayo Saka to start as a wing-back, with Nicolas Pepe joining Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang in attack.

As for City, Sergio Aguero remains on the sidelines following knee surgery, but Guardiola's side are otherwise in good shape in terms of injuries ahead Saturday's contest.

Kevin De Bruyne and Aymeric Laporte were not used against Bournemouth last time out but will return to the XI for this match, while Raheem Sterling will also be back in the starting side.

Claudio Bravo could get the nod over Ederson between the sticks, having been City's FA Cup goalkeeper this season, while Gabriel Jesus is expected to lead the line in Aguero's absence.

Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez are both pushing for spots in the team, although it seems likely that Bernardo Silva will get the nod in the final third alongside Sterling and Jesus.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:

Martinez; Mustafi, Luiz, Tierney; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang

Man City possible starting lineup:

Bravo; Walker, Fernandinho, Laporte, Mendy; Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne; Sterling, Jesus, Bernardo

Head To Head

As mentioned, City have won the last seven meetings between these two sides in all competitions, scoring three in each of their last three victories over the Gunners in the Premier League.

The Citizens also beat Arsenal 3-0 in the final of the EFL Cup in February 2018, but the London club triumphed in their last meeting in the FA Cup, recording a 2-1 success in the semi-finals of the 2016-17 competition.

The pair locked horns in their first match after lockdown on June 17, and it was a comfortable night for Guardiola's side as they ran out three-goal winners courtesy of goals from Sterling, De Bruyne and Foden.

We say: Arsenal 1-2 Manchester City

We are expecting a very close game at Wembley as City have had their problems since the restart. Arsenal will have been boosted by a huge win over Liverpool last time out, meanwhile, but we are finding it difficult to back against Guardiola's side, who have such a strong recent record over the Gunners.

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