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

Sports Mole previews Saturday's FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Manchester City, including team news and predicted lineups.

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

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta pictured on July 7, 2020© Reuters

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.

Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette scores against Liverpool in the Premier League on July 15, 2020© Reuters

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.

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring against Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League on July 11, 2020© Reuters

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.

Manchester City midfielder David Silva celebrates with teammates after scoring against Newcastle on July 8, 2020© Reuters

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

Sergio Aguero sits injured on June 22, 2020© Reuters

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 was expected to get the nod over Ederson between the sticks, having been City's FA Cup goalkeeper this season, but the Chilean is out with a muscular problem.

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:
Ederson; 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.


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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.


ID:406759:

Who will win Saturday's FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Manchester City

Arsenal
Manchester City
Arsenal
37.4%
Manchester City
62.6%
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Liverpool's front three Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane celebrate scoring against Crystal Palace in June 2020
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rhs 2.0
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CLiverpool38323385335299
2Manchester CityMan City382639102356781
3Manchester UnitedMan Utd381812866363066
4Chelsea382061269541566
5Leicester CityLeicester381881267412662
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs3816111161471459
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves381514951401159
8Arsenal381414105648856
9Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd381412123939054
10Burnley38159144350-754
11Southampton38157165160-952
12Everton381310154456-1249
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle381111163858-2044
14Crystal Palace381110173150-1943
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton38914153954-1541
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham38109194962-1339
17Aston Villa3898214167-2635
RBournemouth3897224065-2534
RWatford38810203664-2834
RNorwich CityNorwich3856272675-4921

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