Category Archives: FA Cup

That’s How You March Out of the FA Cup

March penalty miss sets up United-City FA Cup final - RTHK

The fun part about being an Arsenal fan is that you’d take a keen interest around everything concerning the Premier League and English football at large, and after witnessing Riyad Mahrez smash in a sensational hat-trick to send Manchester City to the FA Cup final, I got the cold beer ready, as I watched the exciting Brighton take on Manchester United.

But prior to that, I witnessed Tottenham do the most Tottenham thing you’d expect from them – conceding five goals in 21 minutes. It was so embarrassing that their shaky goalie, Hugo Lloris, had to be subbed off at half time for Fraser Forster, who got in on the conceding act as Newcastle United ran riot to end the tie at 6-1. Harry Kane still managed to score on the day, taking his tally to 24, and one must wonder what was going through his mind regarding his future, as Spurs are likely to miss out on Champions League football entirely at the end of this campaign. Not like we care though, at least St. Totteringham’s Day has been assured, and we have missed that.

Going back to the Brighton vs Manchester United game, I expected an exciting contest and got it in full measure as Roberto de Zerbi continues to do an amazing work with the team after taking over from Graham Potter and losing a key asset like Leandro Trossard in January. Manchester United were utterly embarrassed by Sevilla in midweek, with Harry Maguire doing Harry Maguire stuff, forcing Erik Ten Hag to shuffle the pack in the defense, drafting Aaron Wan-Bissaka ahead of Dalot at right back, playing Diogo Dalot at left back, while Luke Shaw played in the heart of the defense alongside Victor Lindelof – anything to keep the great Magu out of the squad, I guess.

Brighton drew first blood when Alexis MacAllister let one rip from a dead ball but David de Gea was on hand to make a superb stop despite losing sight of the ball due to the sunlight in his eyes. He has always been a good shot stopper, but he’s always capable of a howler or two, like he showcased in the game at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Brighton continued the attack with Pascal Gross and Solly March combining well on the right before teeing up Enciso who took a deft touch and stabbed a right-footed strike that missed the left post by a lick of paint. 

After being pinned to the corner early on, Manchester United got some respite when the fit-again Christian Eriksen found Bruno Fernandes on the edge of the Brighton area and the Portuguese maverick blasted a goal-bound shot that was saved superbly by Robert Sanchez. Sanchez has done well to fight for his place since losing his place to Jason Steele a couple of weeks ago. Casemiro got yet another booking for lunging hard at MacAllister, but what else is on the news? Casemiro getting booked is as consistent as the lack of hair on Howard Webb’s head. However, he managed to find Fernandes in attack who made a lung-bursting run on the right hand channel before blasting a shot that went wide, much to his frustration. 

Manchester United ended the half on the ascendancy with Fernandes robbing Lewis Dunk to feed Anthony Martial that had spotted Sanchez off his line, but his attempted effort didn’t match the idea he had in mind as the ball sailed over the bar. It’s kinda like a luxury seeing Martial on the pitch these days, because he’s only a second away from missing the next three or four games by just sniffing air I guess.

Brighton came out of the blocks early in the second half with de Gea making a top notch save from Enciso after a goal-mouth scramble. Shortly afterwards, former United forward, Danny Welbeck, rose the highest to nod a perfectly swung corner kick, but his attempt was nodded into orbit. After some decent attacking play, March managed to shimmy past his marker but his left-footed drive wasn’t strong enough to beat de Gea. 

Like a classic boxing bout, Manchester United took some punches, got pinned on the ropes, and came back blazing to start a rally of sorts. Fernandes was at the heart of everything good the Red Devils mustered from an attacking standpoint and he was on hand to feed Antony, who dropped his shoulder and curled a sumptuous ball that was saved by Sanchez. It’s fair to say that both goalies did their bit to earn their salaries on the night. 

After some good end-to-end stuff from both sides, extra time beckoned and both sides looked very jaded. Brighton almost got the all-important strike when MacAllister and Moises Caicedo combined superbly before feeding Denis Undav but the forward’s first touch was Romelu Lukaku-esque with the ball evading him and a glorious chance went begging. Manchester United’s dangerman, Marcus Rashford, had been on the periphery all game long but he sprung to life, after receiving the ball, leaving his marker for dead and firing a fizzling shot that was saved by Sanchez. He had another chance after receiving the ball from Casemiro but his effort sailed effortlessly wide. 

The last action came late on when Brighton carved open the Manchester United defense with some intricate passing play, but the final chance fell on Kaoru Mitoma’s feet but his heavy first touch allowed the ball get to de Gea’s path and the keeper wasted no time in smothering the ball to keep the stalemate on.

120 minutes couldn’t separate both sides and we had to rely on the lotteries of a penalty shootout. These things are fun when you’re watching as a neutral, but many Manchester United fans I knew were biting their fingers in anguish because they were certain that de Gea wasn’t going to catch any penalty, due to his atrocious record from 12 yards. And they were not wrong. Even though there were some high quality penalties on display, de Gea’s meek attempts to dive were laughable at best, despite the fact that he was reading some sort of cheat sheet hidden within his towel. However, he didn’t need to do anything as Solly March missed the decisive spot kick at sudden death, before Lindelof scored the kick that has confirmed a Manchester Derby for the FA Cup final next month.

Brighton will take solace from what has been a great FA Cup campaign that saw them knock out the holders, Liverpool, on their way to the semis, so they’d need to turn their attention to the Premier League, as a Europa League finish is still within sight. 


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Man City 1-0 Arsenal: Cityzens Edge Past Gunners

Watch Nathan Ake goal for Manchester City vs Arsenal in FA Cup - Futbol on  FanNation

Match Report – Match Highlights – Post-Match Press Conference (via

Final Result: Man City 1-0 Arsenal (Ake 64′)

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Turner; Tomiyasu, Holding (Saliba 46′), Gabriel, Tierney (Zinchenko 66′); Partey (Sambi Lokonga 46′), Xhaka; Saka (Odegaard 74′), F. Vieira, Trossard (Martinelli 66′); Nketiah

The biggest talking points about the heavyweight clash between Man City and Arsenal was going to be the team selection, and Pep Guardiola left no stone unturned as he fielded a fully-fledged first team lineup with Erling Haaland leading the line. Mikel Arteta on the other hand made wholesale changes from the nerve-racking win over Manchester United, giving starts to Matt Turner in goal, Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Rob Holding in defense, Fabio Vieira as the creative hub of the team, and Leandro Trossard earning his full first team debut.

Despite Man City having more possession in the final third, Arsenal had the better chances in the proceedings and almost got the lead from an unlikely source when Tomiyasu was clean on goal at the edge of the box and put his laced through the ball, but Stefan Ortega was on hand to make a strong save. Trossard was close to opening his goalscoring account with a left footed goal bound drive but Ortega was on hand yet again to make a superb save.

There were couple of times when Matt Turner was called into action, but the theme of the first half was the battle between Haaland and Holding. The Viking forward got the better of the Saxon defender times without number, to the point, Holding earned himself a booking, then I started getting some White Hart Lane vibes from last season when the defender was sent off for two bookable offenses.

At the start of the second half, Arteta made two changes that had a direct influence on the game, with William Saliba replacing Holding and Albert Sambi Lokonga replacing Partey.
Lokonga has been getting some stick from the Arsenal faithful following his inconsistent performances, and he was on show yesterday, putting up another questionable display that would do nothing to help his cause.

The deadlock was finally broken from an I unlikely source after some good work from Jack Grealish on the byline, he fed Nathan Ake that used his weaker foot to cushion the ball past Turner in the Arsenal goal. Ake was having a stormer in left back, quelling the threat of the usually dangerous Bukayo Saka.

Arteta summoned the calvary with Oleksandr Zinchenko, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard entering the fray, but Man City held to see the game through.

In the end, the stats showed how it was a very tight contest with Man City have eight shots with three on target, while Arsenal had five shots with two on target. The xG data was very close with Man City edging Arsenal with 0.51 to 0.35.

This is certainly a precursor to the all important clash in mid-february, but it’s fair to say that Round One of this boxing clash has gone to Man City. Mikel Arteta spoke about how proud he was of his players, and from the game it was very evident that they gave a very good account of themselves against the best team in the land. 

Arsenal has two fixtures against Everton, who are close to appointing the agent of Satanball, Sean Dyche, as well as hosting the impressive Brentford that beat Man City in their home turf, before hosting the Cityzens.

With the FA Cup out of the picture, Arsenal has only the League and Europa League to compete, and Arteta will want his charges to go all the way in both competitions.


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Manchester City vs. Arsenal – Round One

Arsenal, Manchester City 'agree £30m Oleksandr Zinchenko deal' - Sports Mole

Formerly opponents, now teammates

The FA Cup Fourth round tie between Manchester City and Arsenal are in more ways than one synonymous to a three rounds heavyweight fight between two fierce boxers, and the spectators know fully well a knock out is imminent and very close by, indeed. Arsenal has emerged as the biggest threats to Manchester City title defense and it’s expected that these juggernauts are likely to meet each other in other domestic competitions. 

The last time Arsenal and Manchester City locked horns in the latter stages of the FA Cup, ex-captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, was the hero, scoring a brace which sent the Gunners to the finals of the tournament, before the captain was on song again in the finals against Chelsea.

Following Arsenal’s FA Cup triumph in the 2019-20 campaign, the Gunners failed to defend the trophy in the next season, losing to Southampton in the fourth round, while Manchester City went all the way to the semifinals and lost to eventual losing finalists, Chelsea. Last season, Arsenal dropped off at the first hurdle, losing to Nottingham Forest, while Manchester City went all the way to the semifinals again, and bowed out to Liverpool in a pulsating encounter. 

The cup tie is the very first round where both fighters throw jabs and shuffle around, aiming to test the strength, observe any weakness, and no one is particularly in a hurry to go for the jugular. Arsenal and Manchester City also have another date with destiny in mid-February, which is certain to have a greater impact than tonight’s clash in the FA Cup. This is the first meeting between the two sides this season, with Arsenal being in superb form, and Mikel Arteta will be looking to get one over his counterpart, Pep Guardiola when they lock horns once again.

Manchester City will welcome an in-form Arsenal side, who dispatched lower-tiered Oxford United in the previous round of the competition, before recently posting victories over fierce local rivals, Tottenham, and eternal rivals, Manchester United, in what could potentially go down as the match of the season contender.

Manchester City come into the match after a rather surprisingly comfortable drubbing of Chelsea in the previous round, and they will be more than to glad to see top marksman and runaway golden boot winner, Erling Haaland, back among the goals as he banged a hattrick at the weekend to see off a hapless Wolves side.

To team news, Manchester City’s midfield maestro, Phil Foden, is a doubt with a foot injury, but the likes of Kyle Walker and Bernardo Silva are expected to start after they only made the bench in the 3-0 victory over Wolves. Stefan Ortega has been the cup keeper this season, and I’d expect him to get the nod over Ederson, while World Cup winning forward, Julian Alvarez , could continue up front with Erling Haaland.

Arteta might shuffle the pack slightly, bringing in the likes of Takehiro Tomiyasu and Emile Smith-Rowe that is due for a start after quite a lengthy injury layoff. New kid on the block, Leandro Trossard, will be expected to make his full debut after impressing in his cameo against Manchester United.

Manchester City vs Arsenal Predicted Lineups

Manchester City: Ortega; Walker, Dias, Akanji, Ake; Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Haaland, Alvarez.

Arsenal: Turner; Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka, Smith Rowe; Trossard, Nketiah, Vieira.

Injury / Suspension Updates

Manchester City: Phil Foden (foot)

Arsenal: Mohamed Elneny (knee), Reiss Nelson (thigh), Gabriel Jesus (knee)

Form Guide

Manchester City Form

  • Last Five Games:  W L L W W
  • Last Result: Man City 3-0 Wolves (Haaland 40′, 50′ (pk), 54′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Erling Haaland (31)

Arsenal Form

  • Last Five Games: W D W W W
  • Last Result: Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United (Nketiah 24′, 90′, Saka 53′ | Rashford 17′, Martinez 59′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Eddie Nketiah (9)

Gooner Daily predicts a 2 – 2 draw.

Kick Off – 9.00pm (GMT +1) at Etihad Stadium.

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