The English champions are advancing in the competition, but the leaders of the Premier League, despite having changed several men, have always recited the same script: beautiful
The party belongs to City, but the doubt that Arsenal is stronger remains. Guardiola’s team took the first match of the season 1-0, the one in the fourth round of the FA Cup decided by a pearl of the man of the match, Nathan Aké. The champions of England go on, the leaders of the Premier comes out of a cup that holds so much with the feeling of being up to what Arteta continues to define “the strongest team in the world“. Because the coach succumbed to the cup temptation and upset the Gunners, yet the team moved by heart within that canvas that made it special and played better than the champions throughout the first half, only giving up in a blaze in the second half . The next meeting is on February 15th, but it will be the Premier League and it will be played at the Emirates: it could be the first opportunity for a real response.
The match was decided by the man who played better. Aké was a behemoth in Guardiola’s multifaceted defense, nullifying Saka, one of Arsenal’s table-leading arrows. In the 64th minute he added the winning touch, a shot worthy of De Bruyne on which Turner could do nothing. City have confirmed that they are missing something to be that shredder team that has won 4 of the last 5 Premiers: Guardiola claims it’s a matter of head, full belly effect, lack of that malice that Arsenal has instead. This was also seen at Etihad: important players such as Ødegaard, Zinchenko, Saliba and Martinelli were missing (worthily replaced by Trossard, a new signing on his debut from the first minute) yet Arsenal played as Arsenal throughout the first half, moving to unison and putting the champions in difficulty. Losing Partey at the start of the second half to a blow to the rib was too much and showed why the Gunners are desperate for a midfielder (but it could take 80m to convince Brighton to let Caicedo leave, target number 1). The conviction remains that, despite the defeat, Arteta’s team has something more than the champions. It will be the Premier to say, given that the cup has now issued its final verdict: City goes to the 5th round.
The first half thrives on electrifying flare-ups, such as Trossard’s diagonal shot that Ortega dives into in the 21st minute or De Bruyne’s splendid left-footed shot wide a whisker wide a few minutes later, but the match arrives at half-time without a goal and with Guardiola forced to replace the injured Stones. Arteta starts again with Saliba and Lokonga in place of the bruised Partey, but it is City who start better and the second half, like the first half, thrives on flare-ups. Alvarez’s in the 64th minute, an incredible shot from 20 metres, hit the post but it was the prologue to City’s advantage, which Aké signed with a nice low shot to shoot from inside the area on which Turner could do nothing. Arteta tried to bring in Ødegaard and Martinelli to make a comeback: Arsenal leveled up, but the goal didn’t come. And City takes the first round of what promises to be the real battle of England this year.
January 28 – 00:01
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