The Liverpool win was a real shot in the arm to our belief in Arteta’s methods and our hopes for next season.
Of course, there were drawbacks. Around 30% possession – the lowest for our club since Opta records began – and the amount of defending we had to do showed the gulf between the two sides.
But you can also point out that we had the lion’s share of possession and the better chances against spurs- and still lost.
Results matter and there couldn’t have been a better one going into what is probably the biggest match of our season.
City have won the last seven games against us, scoring twenty and conceding just two – quite scary numbers. We defeated City at the same stage of the FA Cup back in 2017 on our way to lifting the Cup, but we had a very different side back then.
Pep Guardiola will want this Cup badly after losing the title. They will have one eye on the second leg of their Champions League tie with Real Madrid but they will have full focus on this game. For us to win the game, we need to be just as dedicated and hungry as we were against Liverpool – and then we need to be very lucky.
It’s depressing but luck will need to be on our side. David Silva is pulling out all the stops to ensure his last season is glittering with City and is in imperious form. In attack, they have Aguero, Jesus, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Sterling – they are blessed so that if one of them is having an off day? Another one will step up.
Who can Arteta call on to defeat his old club?
Mesut Ozil has begun training again after a back complaint but it would be a real surprise if he made the side.
Arteta switched some players around for the Liverpool game. Those switched out would have expected that they would play in this game, but given our performances, they may well stay on the bench.
That means that Rob Holding could, or should, keep his place in the side. One change could be that Dani Ceballos comes back in for Lucas Torreira – but Arteta may opt for more bodies in the centre so both could play alongside Xhaka in the middle.
One change will certainly be Aubameyang coming back into the side. With Alexandre Lacazette in red-hot form, he will no doubt keep his place, but our top scorer should come back in – which means either Nicolas Pepe or Reiss Nelson will make way. With the amount of work Nelson put in to chase the ball down against City, it could be that Pepe makes way.
Player to watch
The little magician will be departing these shores after this season, but he seems intent on leaving a lasting memory before he goes. He is impacting every game, working between the lines and wreaking chaos. Our midfield and defence may be preoccupied with De Bruyne, but Silva could slip the knife in without us even knowing. Silva is the man to watch.
How This Could Go
This could be over quickly. City can keep going and going, and are based on possession. We need to take a leaf from our win against Liverpool – but also maintain the press as high up as possible.
We will also need to weed out the profligacy that blighted our loss to Tottenham. We will get a chance or two, perhaps more, against City – but it is clear we can’t afford to waste it. A goal for us could change the game completely.
Alternatively, if City take the lead, it is fundamental we keep our shape and not crumple.
This will be our toughest test as City will want it more than already-crowned Liverpool did.
Predicted Lineup – Martinez, Bellerin, Holding, Luiz, Tierney, Xhaka, Ceballos, Saka, Aubameyang, Nelson, Lacazette
Predicted Scoreline – 3-2 to The Arsenal
Have a go and predict who Arteta will name in the team here.