Pep Gurdiola’s star spangled Manchester City squad at the Etihad and a struggling Arsene Wenger battalion at the North London Colney are both entirely out of the Premier League title race this year. It is for this reason that a win in the FA Cup semifinal is of utmost importance for both the sides, who see the cup as their only chance at some silverware this season.
In the world of football the next few days has the FA Cup written all over it with title rivals Chelsea and Tottenham scheduled to meet each other in the second semifinal tie in this tournament. It can be said that the FA Cup has not been this exciting in years, and regardless of who wins, all three remaining fixtures in this competition are likely to bring nothing short of absolute joy to football fans round the world!
Arsenal are currently sixth in the premier league table with 57 points from 31 games. This is one of the lowest point tally achieved by the North London side at this stage of the season in the 21 years Arsene Wenger has been in charge. Manchester City have played one game more than Arsenal and are on 64 points. For a team assembled with 100 Million Pounds plus loose cash, the Citizens have certainly not been up to the mark. Arsenal too seemed to have missed the forest for the trees, having spent close to a 100 Million on four new signings themselves and having taken too long in figuring out their best 11 on the pitch.
While this year’s campaign paints a grim, poignant picture for Gurdiola and Wenger, the two managers will have to do what they do best during this FA Cup semifinal: Get their team to respond with a strong and mature performance in this fixture! Watch out for war, watch out for a bloodbath, for there is little doubt that the two teams will walk onto the Wembley turf with a go-for-the-kill impulse and an absolute commitment to winning the game!
Arsene Wenger will be faced with the question of whether he should get his team to play an unorthodox 3-4-3; a tactic that worked out alright for the Frenchman against Middlesbrough.
Arsenal will be without Danny Welbeck for this one, with long term absentee Santi Cazorla also missing out. Among others set to miss this clash are David Ospina, Shkodran Mustafi, French youngster Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Spanish winger Lucas Perez. Arsenal skipper Mertesacker could feature in this one alongside Laurent Koscielny, while Rob Holding could find a place on the starting 11 as well, depending on how Wenger chooses to play this game.
Pep Gurdiola is likely to go ahead with a classic 4 at the back, 5 in the middle one up front formation; in other words a 4-2-3-1.
Manchester City have former Arsenal right back Bacary Sagna back in training alongside ex-Aston Villa man Fabian Delph, though it is highly doubtful that either of them will play in this game. Brazilian wonder-kid Gabriel Jesus is back in training and could find a place on the bench. Sergio Aguero will undoubtedly start up front. There is also a slight chance that John Stones might not be match fit for this game. Lastly, Jesus Navas is going to continue play at right back having impressed his gaffer in that position in Manchester City’s last fixture.
Arsenal: Cech, Gabriel, Koscielny, Holding, Gibbs, Oxlade- Chamberlain, Ramsey, Xhaka, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.
Manchester City: Bravo,Navas, Kompany, Otamendi, Clichy,Fernandinho,Toure, De Bruyne, Silva, Sane, Aguero.
Date and time: Sunday, 23rd April, 7:30 pm. (IST) , 4:00 pm. (GMT +1)
Venue: Wembley Stadium London HA9 0WS, UK
Note: Viewers in India can catch this FA Cup semifinal live on the following channels: ESPN HD/ ESPN