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Arsenal 2-0 Manchester City
Line-ups, match report and statistical analysis of the FA Cup semi-final clash between the title defenders Manchester City and an inconsistent Arsenal on the search for success.
Kosta Diamantopoulos of La Trobe University
With the domestic season fundamentally over for both sides, Arsenal and Manchester City would seek glory to redeem unsuccessful domestic seasons through the FA Cup, but stood in eachothers path.
Deep defending from Arsenal in the first 10 minutes of the game provided an example of a contrast in quality, but Manchester City would eventually rue the chances they had missed.
A fantastic display of skill from Alexander Lacazette to beat Ederson saw the Frenchmen dribble the ball into the net for a goal that wouldn’t count due to his own off-side positioning.
Aubameyang would also find himself one on one with the Manchester City goalkeeper, where he was on-side but insignificant, seeing his shot saved by the Brazilian comfortably.
It’s quite clear that Arsenal anticipated the early pressure from Manchester City but the Gunners absorbed it well and converted it into energy of their own as within the first 15 minutes, they gradually found themselves attacking more.
Nicolas Pepe would deliver numerous danger-imposing passes into the area, and it was eventually Aubameyang who struck of the post and in to redeem his earlier miss and strike first-blood.
The opening 21 minutes saw David Luiz be a key-figure in the Gunners quality; defending with authority and almost rendering an assist too. A great disparity to his performances upon the return of football.
Martinez showed composure on the ball with his distributions from deep in the penalty box but otherwise didn’t have many contributions to make. This was in contrast to Ederson, who was forced to make a number of quality saves to rescue his poor defence.
With Nicolas Pepe being at the fore-front of Arsenals creative threat, the Gunners will surely be aware of the potential 3-0 lead they could be boasting at the closure of the opening half. Manchester City would need a serious alteration in style entering the second-half.
Kieran Tierney, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and David Luiz were amongst the first halves classiest performers.
At the birth of the second-half Kevin De Bruyne’s persistent creativity manifested into many goal-threats but his quality was ultimately met by lacklustre prowess by Raheem Sterling.
A superb Martinez save from a Riyad Mahrez low-driven strike allowed the game to remain at 1-0 and would prove to be influential Arsenal's tactical display.
What seemed to be a humorous example of exaggeration from Sterling following Shkodran Mustafi’s slide tackle was soon to be challenged by the higher powers of VAR, but the match remained uninterrupted upon the check.
Ilkay Gundogan was the first member of the underwhelming City side to be dragged off the pitch for the younger and perhaps hungrier Rodri.
The opening 25 minutes of the second half saw utter domination from Manchester City but had no end-product to their Belgium meastro’s creativity and would once again truly regret these missed chances.
Regret they would as Kieran Tierney was in his element, providing a gloriously timed lifted pass down the left-flank to Aubameyang - who finished calmly to double their lead emphatically and make his brace.
Sterling was at the brunt of the referee’s authority for the entirety of the fixture but would see his antics go unseen as he stood on Mustafi’s ankle, forcing the German to substitute off after an impressive display.
The final minutes of the game saw the Gunners defensive line almost on-par with their goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez as they defended extremely deep into their own half.
Manchester City dominated the possession as they did throughout the match but by the climax of the fixture it seemed as if the defending champions had lost all hope, delivering a number of defensively manageable balls into the Arsenal penalty area.
Upon the final whistle the David vs Goliath narrative seemed to be demolished as Arsenal provided what seemed to be a tactically genius display, utilising their assets in all departments efficiently and knocking off a star-studded Manchester City team.
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