The FA Cup fourth round match between Arsenal and Manchester City on Friday night could have a major impact on both teams’ Premier League title aspirations.
Although the FA Cup may not be the priority for either team, a win could provide a significant boost.
In their last FA Cup match back in 2020, Arsenal topped Man City 2-0. However, City have won all five meetings since, including four in Premier League play and one in the Carabao Cup.
A defeat for City on Friday would see the club eliminated from both domestic cup competitions at the earliest point since the 2014/15 season.
Manchester City’s Performance
In the third round of the competition, Manchester City easily defeated Chelsea. Despite Chelsea being in a transitional period, the 4-0 defeat was still a humiliating result for the Londoners.
Manchester City now face the only team currently above them in the Premier League standings this season; Arsenal. Pep Guardiola’s side trails the Gunners by five points in the English top flight, despite playing a match more.
Therefore, Friday night’s match at the Etihad Stadium will be a crucial test of City’s mettle.
Manchester City does not return to Premier League action until the first week of February, giving Pep Guardiola the luxury of fielding a full-strength team against Arsenal.
Erling Haaland, who comes off the back of his fourth Premier League hattrick, will be keen to bring his scoring boots to the FA Cup.
Manchester City’s only fresh injury concern is Phil Foden, who missed training with a foot problem. But the England international expects to be available for selection.
Stefan Ortega may continue to start in goal over Ederson, and Kyle Walker and Bernardo Silva could also see playing time.
For Arsenal, former Manchester City striker Jesus will not play as he continues to recover from knee surgery. However, he recently revealed that he expects to make his comeback in “four to five weeks”
Leandro Trossard may get his first start for the club following an impressive performance against Manchester United, while Emile Smith Rowe may play on the right wing and Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli could start on the bench.
Reiss Nelson, Mohamed Elneny, and Cedric Soares are injured, and none of them would have been expected to start the match.
Ben White was taken off at half time in the win over Man United, having been run ragged by Rashford, but he should hold his spot.
Arsenal had an easier route to the fourth round, defeating lower-league opponents Oxford United in a 3-0 away win.
Mikel Arteta’s side has been flying high this season, amassing 50 points in the league only halfway through the season.
No team has lost the Premier League crown after getting so many points on the board at this point of the season.
A scintillating 3-2 win over arch-rivals Manchester United should take their already high confidence levels to even greater heights.
The question of whether it would make more sense for Arsenal to sacrifice the FA Cup, a trophy they have won a few times in recent years, for solely focusing on Premier League glory that has evaded them since 2004, has been thrown around a lot lately.
It looks likely that Arsenal might choose to rest some of their key players in the trip to the Etihad.
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ortega; Walker, Dias, Akanji, Ake; Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Haaland, Alvarez
Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Turner; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Nketiah
Manchester City might get the better of their new title rivals in front of their home crowd. None of the teams would be particularly keen to play a rematch amidst an already congested fixture.
So, we expect the tie to be settled on Friday night and the Citizens could get the tickets to the next round with a 3-1 victory.
Kickoff: January 28, Saturday, 1:30 AM Venue: Etihad Stadium