The FA Cup semi-final clash between Arsenal and Manchester City on Saturday is being viewed by both sides as a key fixture.
For Arsenal, it represents a chance to salvage something from this underwhelming campaign. For City, it’s another step on the quest to win as many trophies as possible. The Premier League title might be gone, but City could still end the year with their own treble if they can with both the FA Cup and Champions League.
As they so often do, City will enter the game as favourites, and former City man Shaun Goater told 90min that the game will likely be won in midfield.
“When I think about the key areas, the strength of City comes from the players who play in that number ten role,” Goater says. “Whether it’s Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, it’s about who’s going to pick them up.
“[Matteo] Guendouzi’s a good midfielder, he’s great on the ball, great on the eye, but is he that player who’s going to be breaking up the play? Arsenal are going to need that protection, David Luiz is a quality defender but if he hasn’t got that protection, City will find the cracks. The centre-backs need to have a near-perfect game too, that’s a key area.”
That ‘near-perfect game’ hasn’t been easy to come by for Arsenal this season. Mistakes have plagued Mikel Arteta’s side all year, including in the Gunners’ recent 3-0 loss to City in the league, and Ray Parlour admitted that his former side need to eradicate those errors if they are to be in with a chance of victory.
“Usually it is [all about mistakes] with Arsenal!” Parlour added. “They got themselves in a really good position against Spurs and then make a big mistake.
“City have got some much going forward, you look at [Raheem] Sterling, [Riyad] Mahrez, [Gabriel] Jesus, De Bruyne’s one of the best midfielders in the world at the moment. That’s where you have to stop them to have any chance of a win. I said before, you’ve got to catch them on a bad day to have any chance.
“Arsenal have got to take their chances if they get any, they’ll rely on Aubameyang to get a couple of opportunities. City might give you a chance, they love going forward and sometimes they’re a little open at the back. City are massive favourites to win though.
“We don’t know the teams yet, if Arteta looks at changing the system or not – I think he’ll go with three at the back again – [Lucas] Torreira could be that man on De Bruyne, or [Granit] Xhaka. [Dani] Ceballos, he had a decent game against Spurs but he’s more forward-minded. Xhaka’ll probably be the one who has to keep an eye on De Bruyne, but he’s such a clever player that he’ll get in the pockets and be difficult to pick up.”
Watch Arsenal v Manchester City in the Emirates FA Cup this Saturday from 19:00 on BT Sport 1
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