Man City host Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Friday night in the FA Cup fourth round. This match sees the first and second-placed sides face off after beating Chelsea and Oxford United in the third round respectively. Pep Guardiola’s side last lifted the cup in 2019 whilst the Gunners won the FA Cup in 2015, 2017, and 2020.
Man City Form
City’s form has been somewhat inconsistent by their high standards. A 2-1 loss at home to Brentford ended the pre-World Cup season. Since the hiatus, they have played nine matches with six wins, two losses, and one draw. After a surprise 1-1 home draw with lowly Everton, they beat Chelsea twice, 1-0 away in the league and 4-0 at home in the FA Cup.
They then lost 2-0 at Southampton to be knocked out of the Carabao Cup. A 2-1 Manchester derby league defeat followed, producing just five shots and 0.65 Expected Goals all game. City then trailed 2-0 to Tottenham before coming back to win 4-2 at home. In their last match, Erling Haaland netted a hattrick in a 3-0 home win against Wolves.
Man City Team News
City only have one injury doubt, over Phil Foden. Pep Guardiola could rotate his side a bit with Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo, and Kyle Walker hoping for recalls at the back. He could use a flat-back four, inverted fullbacks, or a 3-2-3-2 attacking shape with two strikers – Guardiola has options.
Julian Alvarez could get another opportunity, either alongside Haaland or with the Norwegian rested to the bench. Bernardo Silva may continue to be left amongst the subs after some iffy form.
Man City Motivation
After their Carabao Cup exit and how seriously they have taken the domestic cups in recent seasons, they should be fully motivated for this match.
They will also want to win this fixture and gain any psychological advantage over Mikel Arteta’s side in the title race. Both sides will want to avoid this match going beyond 90 minutes.
The Gunners are in sensational form with 11 wins and two draws in 13 Premier League fixtures. A run of five successive wins saw 15 goals scored and a fine 1-0 win at Chelsea to underline their title credentials. A 4-2 win at Brighton came next, before drawing 0-0 at home to Newcastle.
In the previous round of the FA Cup, they played close to a full-strength side and won 3-0 at Oxford United. They had two tough league matches after that, underlining their class by winning 2-0 at Tottenham before a 3-2 “thrashing” of Man Utd at home. They outshot the Red Devils 25-6 and produced 3.25 xG to just 0.36 xG for United.
Arsenal Team News
The big question mark is whether Arteta will play a strong side. His team played Sunday vs United and plays Everton 13 days later. He could therefore select close to his best XI for match fitness reasons. Gabriel Jesus and Reiss Nelson remain absent and Mohamed Elneny is a doubt.
If any rotation is seen, then perhaps Leandro Trossard could play as he is not cup-tied. Oleks Zinchenko is a candidate for a rest with Kieran Tierney in reserve.
This will be informed partly by Arteta’s team selection. He may go full strength to try to win this trophy and to lay down a marker for the league title race.
If there are plenty of fringe players selected, then the coach is putting all of his focus on the Premier League. Either way, avoiding replays and extra time will be key in this tie.
Man City have won 13 of their last 15 home matches (PL)
City have conceded in 5 of their last 6 home PL matches
City have lost 2 of their last 4 matches (all comps)
Arsenal have won 11 of their last 13 PL matches (D2)
Arsenal have kept 6 clean sheets in their last 7 away PL matches
Arsenal have lost 12 of their last 13 matches vs Man City (33-6 aggregate)
City may just be a little more motivated for the FA Cup than Arsenal, who are desperate to lift the league title. Guardiola’s side are at home and are more likely to win, with both teams on target.