Our football writer previews the FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Man City.
In the other semi-final tie, Arsenal and Manchester City will do battle at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. This represents an opportunity to capture City’s first trophy under Pep Guardiola, while under-fire manager Arsene Wenger will be desperate to give Gooners something to cheer about.
FA Cup Semi-Final | Sunday 23 April | Wembley Stadium | 16:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Arsenal 28/10 | Draw 28/10 | Man City 17/20
With Arsenal struggling for a top-four finish in the Premier League, the fans will want to see the team succeed in the FA Cup. The Gunners will aim to go one better than Manchester United by winning for a record 13th time. For Wenger, his job may depend upon it. He needs to get his hands on the FA Cup to ease the pressure on him and will surely feel that getting at City’s defence can reap its reward.
Arsenal, who lifted the trophy in 2014 and 2015, proved too classy for courageous non-league Lincoln City in a 5-0 home win to set up their record 29th FA Cup semi-final, having seen-off Sutton United, Southampton and Preston in the previous three rounds.
This will be just the second time City and Arsenal have met at Wembley following the 2014 FA Community Shield which resulted in a comfortable 3-0 win for Wenger’s side. The Gunners have lost just once in their last nine meetings against City, winning four times. However, they failed to beat them twice in the Premier League this season.
Wenger’s side were beaten 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium in December, before coming from behind twice to draw 2-2 at the Emirates Stadium earlier in the month. Arsenal will rely on the world-class attacking duo of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. If Ozil can put together a run of form, he can transform Arsenal’s season. He’s unplayable on his day.
Pep Guardiola’s first year in England has been a learning curve for the Spaniard. Manchester City have experienced some bumps along the way this season while they have shown flashes of brilliance. The title may be out of reach now, but Guardiola will be hoping to win the FA Cup trophy in his first season. The same competition marked Roberto Mancini’s introduction as a trophy-winning City manager, so it is not to be sniffed at.
City, who are on a two-match winning streak, have won the cup on five occasions and have been runners-up another five times. They last lifted the trophy in 2011, defeating Stoke City in the final. But they lost 1-0 to Wigan Athletic in the 2013 final.
This is the first time in four years that City have reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Goals from David Silva and Sergio Aguero gave them a deserved win over Middlesbrough to reach this stage. Prior to that game, Guardiola’s side knocked out West Ham, Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town.
City’s devastating attacking trio of Aguero, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling will look to exploit Arsenal’s defensive frailties. And with the creative talents of Silva and Kevin De Bruyne behind them, Guardiola’s team are sure to cause all kinds of problems. It is expected that Brazil international Gabriel Jesus will not recover from his broken foot in time for the clash.
Verdict: Manchester City Win (17/20)
Both teams thrive on attacking football and as we witnessed earlier this month, Both Teams to Score looks a top bet at 5/10. That said, I fancy City to come out on top and pile further misery on Arsenal and their under-fire boss.
Written by Chadley Nagel @Hollywoodbets