Arsenal take on Manchester City in what is expected to be a thriller of an encounter in the FA Cup semi-final stage. Both clubs have struggled to play up to their expectations in the Premier League with the former going through a dismal run prior to their Cup clash this weekend.
Arsene Wenger’s side have won the famous old trophy in two of their last three seasons, and this would offer them a slight advantage if they get through their early exchanges with the Citizens.
Despite this, the Mancunian giants should not be taken lightly with the likes of Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling pulling the strings upfront in recent weeks.
Players to watch for:
Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal:
The Chilean’s future has been the topic of speculation since the turn of the year with reports suggesting that he could link up with Guardiola at the Etihad in the summer.
Regardless of this, the 28-year-old would be doing no favours to the Manchester-based club as he seeks to win some silverware with the Gunners in what has been a disappointing campaign by their standards.
Sanchez has provided 23 goals and 14 assists across all competitions for the north London giants, and he could be tipped to get on the scoresheet from his preferred position on the left wing.
Leroy Sane – Manchester City:
The former Schalke 04 ace has managed to become a regular in Guardiola’s starting XI following a period where he was often picked from the substitutes’ bench.
Sane netted the first goal in the 2-1 league win over the Gunners at the Etihad whilst he also found the scoresheet in the 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture earlier this month.
The German attacker remains key to the Citizens’ forward play, and the Gunners may have a tough afternoon with Wenger likely to stick with his new 3-4-2-1 formation.
Arsene Wenger confirmed in his press conference that the likes of David Ospina, Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi would miss out on the crunch Cup encounter. Danny Welbeck remains an outsider to make the matchday squad with a late fitness test likely to determine his inclusion.
The Citizens will be boosted by the return of Gabriel Jesus to light training following his recovery from a metatarsal injury. Other than that, John Stones and Bacary Sagna remain doubtful with the latter having just returned from a groin problem.
Arsenal may not make any changes from the 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough on Monday night, and this could see the likes of Rob Holding and Olivier Giroud retain their places. No place for Hector Bellerin!
Arsenal (3-4-2-1): Petr Cech; Gabriel, Rob Holding, Laurent Koscielny; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Nacho Monreal; Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil; Olivier Giroud.
The Manchester City XI has seen regular changes at the heart of the defence but Guardiola could stick with a similar squad with goalkeeper Claudio Bravo making way for Wilfredo Caballero.
Manchester City (4-1-4-1): Wilfredo Caballero; Jesus Navas, Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi, Gael Clichy; Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Leroy Sane; Sergio Aguero.