With the fourth place more or less confirmed for them unless they do some major slip-up, FA Cup remains the only trophy Manchester City has to aim for, and Guardiola would want their players to give everything to win him the silverware in his debut managerial campaign.
While Wembley hasn’t been the best of venues for the Manchester outfit in the recent past, their opponents haven’t been the best of sides when playing away from home of late either, and Guardiola would hope his men to take advantage of their under-confidence.
Arsenal have just won once in their last five away fixtures and that too against a relegation-threatened Middlesbrough side. Arsene Wenger has faced Guardiola twice this season and the Frenchman hasn’t managed a win even once. To top that, the Gunners have just changed to a back three formation, which will need some time adapting and City gets just the perfect time to strike.
Willy Caballero is expected to start under the bar. Although Claudio Bravo has seen some action of late, Guardiola is unlikely to start him in such a crucial game. Caballero has conceded just nine goals in 11 appearances although his Champions league record isn’t very encouraging. He has started the FA Cup twice and is yet to let a goal in.
The return of Vincent Kompany has been a huge boost for City and the fact that he snatched a goal last game is indicative of his brimming confidence. Nicolas Otamendi seems to have finally found the perfect partner at the heart of defence as City looked unshakeable against Southampton.
Gael Clichy should start on the left defensive flank and will be aware of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s raw pace that can catch him off position quite often. Jesus Navas was a surprising selection on the right-back’s role and if Guardiola wishes to stick with him, containing Alexis Sanchez will be difficult. We expect Pablo Zabaleta to start this time.
Manchester City have one of the best pairs of central midfielders in Yaya Toure and Fernandinho. Both excel in long range passing and bringing the ball out of congested positions, and will be mainly responsible for keeping Alexis Sanchez and Ozil quiet throughout the game.
The number 10 role will be played by David Silva. This game is in a lot of ways a tussle between him and Ozil at both ends.
Leroy Sane will start on the left wing and will be given the task of outfoxing Chamberlain and Mustafi. His pace could be worrying for Arsenal. Kevin De Bruyne will take the other flank. Nacho Monreal has been susceptive to pace throughout the season and Raheem Sterling had terrorised him in Etihad. However, De Bruyne can pick the most impeccable of passes for Sergio Aguero, who will be leading the attack.
Sane – Silva – De Bruyne
Fernandinho – Toure
Clichy – Kompany – Otamendi – Zabaleta
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