Arsenal and Manchester City will face off in the semi-final of the FA Cup at Wembley later today, and it promises to be an intriguing clash.
Mikel Arteta’s side will enter the game as the underdogs, but having secured a surprise 2-1 win against Liverpool on Wednesday in the league, they will hope to muster yet another upset.
Pep Guardiola’s side, on the other hand, are in pursuit of a cup treble, and have scored goals for fun of late. They have already bagged the League Cup, and will look to win the FA Cup and the Champions League.
Manchester City have won their last three league games, but did come under some late pressure in their narrow 2-1 defeat against Bournemouth. Arsenal will have looked at that game and will hope to test the Sky Blues’ defence.
Here are three key battles to watch out for when Arsenal take on Manchester City.
Arsenal vs Manchester City: 3 Key Battles
#1 David Luiz vs. Gabriel Jesus
Arteta’s defensive strategies worked miraculously against the newly crowned Premier League champions Liverpool. The Spaniard could, therefore, persist with David Luiz in the central defence as the Brazilian has been a mainstay in the side since football resumed, and impressed against Liverpool.
Arsenal’s defence needs no reminding of how deadly Guardiola’s attackers are, even in the absence of their veteran striker Sergio Aguero. Aguero’s deputy, Gabriel Jesus, has led the line well in the recent games, and is brimming with confidence at the moment.
Jesus has scored a goal in each of his last three league outings, and will be desperate to get on the score-sheet against Arsenal. If Luiz fails to maintain his composure or commits errors, with Jesus applying the press up top, City could be in for an easy night
#2 Kieran Tierney vs. Riyad Mahrez
With 10 goals and 9 assists in 31 league appearances, Riyad Mahrez has weaved his magic on many occasions for his team. The Algerian international has bamboozled defences with his pace and trickery, and has been impeccable in front of goal as well, so Tierney will have a tough outing.
Tierney has been industrious for the Gunners down the left. He is exactly the left-back Arsenal needed, as he has offered an attacking threat from the left, and has also fulfilled his defensive duties.
The Scottish full-back needs to produce a strong performance and will be tasked with the responsibility of keeping Mahrez at bay by curtailing his forward runs and matching him for pace.
#3 Alexandre Lacazette vs. Aymeric Laporte
Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette has regained his form, having scored two goals in his last two league appearances, one against Tottenham Hotspur and the other against Liverpool. He will be up against his compatriot Aymeric Laporte, who is a key cog in the City defence.
The Manchester City defender was rested in the midweek fixture against Bournemouth and is expected to return to the starting lineup against the north London outfit. Laporte is a strong defender with sound technique, and is an asset for his side against any team.
Laporte will have to keep Lacazette in check, but another key aspect of this game will be the pressing. City, like Arsenal, play out from the back, and Lacazette will have to work hard and press the Gunners defence while they are in possession. If Lacazette manages to trouble Laporte with his tenacity, Arsenal could trouble Manchester City.
Statistics Credits: Whoscored