Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Manchester City, FA Cup Semi-Final

Wembley Stadium, London
Sunday, April 23
10:00 a.m. EDT, 15:00 BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Craig Pawson
    • Assistants: Simon Bennett and Steve Child
    • 4th Official: Stuart Attwell
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 96 Arsenal wins, 50 Manchester City wins, 45 draws
  • All-Time in the FA Cup: 2 Arsenal wins, 1 Manchester City win
  • Arsenal's Path Here
    • Third Round: Beat Preston North End, 2-1
    • Fourth Round: Beat Southampton, 5-0
    • Fifth Round: Beat Sutton United, 2-0
    • Sixth Round: Beat Lincoln City, 5-0
  • Manchester City's Path Here
    • Third Round: Beat West Ham United, 5-0
    • Fourth Round: Beat Crystal Palace, 3-0
    • Fifth Round: Beat Huddersfield Town, 5-1
    • Sixth Round: Beat Middlesbrough, 2-0
  • Arsenal's League Form: L-L-D-W-L-W
  • Manchester City's League Form: D-D-D-L-W-W
All of a sudden, everything's serious again. Just as we were coasting along with some absurd and sad results, leading to obscurely philosophical match preview from moi, Arsenal went ahead and won again. They're still seven points out of a Champions League spot, but they do have a game in hand, so there's that. And here we are now, getting ready for a cup semi-final.

In all of the nonsense and stupid losses and airplanes over the last month, here we are about to go to Wembley for an FA Cup tie with Manchester City, the very team Arsenal are chasing for fourth. The confidence boost of a win could have tremendous ramifications going forward as Arsenal try to salvage something out of the disaster that was this winter.

We'll know some 20 hours or so before kick-off whom Arsenal would face in the final, whether it's that lot from up the road or that other lot from down that other road. So, let the anxiety begin!

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Mustafi (thigh,) Pérez (thigh,) Cazorla (Achilles)
Doubts: Welbeck (toe,) Ospina (back)

It was a bit surprising when Arsenal unveiled their XI with a back three on Monday night to find that Shkodran Mustafi was missing from the 18-man squad, on his birthday no less! It turns out the German international has a thigh injury, which will keep him out of this match as well.

Elsewhere, Lucas Pérez's thigh injury appears to be a long-term one; he has not featured since March 11 against Lincoln City. Santi Cazorla's season, as we already knew, is over. David Ospina remains a strong doubt, while Danny Welbeck has also become a doubt with a toe injury.

As for whether Arsenal play with three, four, or thirty-six at the back, well, we'll just have to wait and see. As such, I'm just going to throw in the same XI that started at Middlesbrough and see what happens...

Predicted XI: Čech, Gabriel, Koscielny, Holding, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Özil, Alexis, Giroud.

Manchester City Squad News

Out: Gündoğan (knee)
Doubts: Jesus (match fitness,) Sagna (groin,) Stones (knock)

İlkay Gündoğan injured ligaments in his knee just days before Manchester City played Arsenal in the reverse fixture back in December, so this will be the third meeting between these clubs this season that the German will miss. Gabriel Jesus, das Wunderkind, has been out since February with a foot injury; he's back in training but lacking match fitness. I would not expect him to feature.

John Stones missed Manchester City's match last weekend at Southampton with "a small problem," but moves into the doubt column here; he's more likely than not to feature. Ex-Arsenal right back Bacary Sagna, who has been sans blond braids for far too long now, looks like a doubt as well, as he was back when the sides met at the Emirates earlier this month.

Predicted XI: Bravo, Navas, Stones, Kompany, Clichy, Fernandinho, de Bruyne, Sterling, Silva, Sané, Agüero.

Current Form

When Arsenal and Manchester City played to a 2-2 draw on April 2 at the Emirates, in marked three league games without a win for both clubs. For City, it was three draws and for Arsenal, it was two losses and one draw. Since then, both sides have won twice and lost once, though under very different circumstances.

Arsenal rebounded from the three match winless run by beating West Ham United at home 3-0. They lost all of that momentum quickly, however, by falling 3-0 to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. A week later, they got back in the win column with a 2-1 win at relegation threatened Middlesbrough.

As for Manchester City, their three match winless run was extended to four with a 2-1 loss at Chelsea. They've recovered, however, with two wins: 3-1 over Hull City and 3-0 over Southampton. This has consolidated their position in fourth place with 64 points; they're four points clear of Manchester United and seven points clear of Arsenal, but both of those clubs have a game in hand.

Match Facts

Manchester City took four of a possible six points from Arsenal in their two league encounters this season. Manchester City won the meeting in Manchester 2-1 back in December. Theo Walcott opened the scoring in the fifth minute for Arsenal, who had lost at Everton earlier in the week. Things looked good for Arsenal for a while, though I will admit that I was on a bus back from Washington, DC from a wedding so I missed the game entirely. Manchester City equalized two minutes after halftime through Leroy Sané, though there were shades of offside; again, never submitted myself to watching the highlights, so I'm not sure how obvious those shades were. Raheem Sterling netted the winner 19 minutes from time.

At the Emirates earlier this month, Arsenal came from behind twice to draw 2-2. Sané opened the scoring in the fifth minute this time, while Arsenal remained a shambles at the back. The Gunners settled in eventually and had an equalizer through Theo Walcott on 40 minutes. They switched off again immediately, however, and City were back in front through Sergio Agüero two minutes later. Arsenal found another equalizer off the head of Shkodran Mustafi from a set piece on 53 minutes and the game ended drawn.

To date, these clubs have only met three times in the FA Cup, with Arsenal winning two of them. Manchester City's win came in 1904, by a 2-0 margin. Arsenal picked up a 1932 Semi-Final win against City, 1-0 at Villa Park, before they went on to lose to Newcastle in the final, as well as a 2-1 win in Manchester in 1971's fifth round, en route to the Double.

The Referee

The referee is South Yorkshire-based Craig Pawson. Arsenal are two-for-two in matches with Pawson in the middle this season, winning 1-0 at Burnley back in October (through a questionable late goal, to boot) and 5-1 at West Ham in December. Manchester City have only seen Pawson once, for a 1-0 loss at Anfield on New Year's Eve.

Back in December, just as Pawson was assigned that clash between City and Liverpool, former referee Howard Webb stated that Pawson should not have been allowed to work that game after a series of high profile errors earlier in the month, first for only showing yellow to Marcus Rojo after a two-footed lunge on Wilfried Zaha and second for showing red three days later to Jamie Vardy for lunging at Mame Diouf, despite being off-balance after a shove from Glen Johnson. Pawson, of course, then worked the Liverpool-City game without incident.

In eight previous matches with Pawson in the middle, Arsenal have a record of four wins, two losses, and two draws. For Manchester City, in six matches, they have two wins, one loss, and three draws.

Around England
  • Saturday: Bournemouth v. Middlesbrough; Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth
  • Saturday: Hull City v. Watford; KCOM Stadium, Kingston upon Hull
  • Saturday: Swansea City v. Stoke City; Liberty Stadium, Swansea
  • Saturday: West Ham United v. Everton; Olympic Stadium, London
  • FA Cup Saturday (late): Chelsea v. Tottenham Hotspur; Wembley Stadium, London
  • Sunday: Burnley v. Manchester United; Turf Moor, Burnley
  • Sunday: Liverpool v. Crystal Palace; Anfield, Liverpool
  • Out of Action: Leicester City, Southampton, Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion
John Painting is a contributing writer to the Modern Gooner and a Canadian radio station broadcasting out of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. You can follow him on Twitter @zorrocat for all the greatest hits from the '70, '80s, and '90s.