Liverpool suffered a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace in their last Premier League clash, and are now third in the table with 66 points from 34 games, staying nine clear of Arsenal who now have three games in hand on the Merseysiders and could catch mathematically catch them in the table. Arsene Wenger’s men still need slip-ups from their top-four rivals but Liverpool’s defeat opens the door for them.
Yet. And this could be the crucial word here.
It was in February that Arsene Wenger first publicly addressed the hot issue of his Arsenal future amid growing pressure from disgruntled Gunners supporters, who were demanding that Frenchman was relieved of his duties.
Wenger said he would decide on a new deal in March on April and with this designated timeline slowly running out, no announcement has been made just yet.
In the meantime, Arsenal boss is trying to latch on a newly-found dose of optimism following back-to-back triumphs over Middlesbrough in the Premier League and against Manchester City in the Fa Cup semi-final.
Arsenal defender Rob Holding once again impressed in a three-man backline against Manchester City as the Gunners reached the FA Cup final. The former Bolton Wanderers centre-back has been on the periphery at Arsenal all season, but was brought to the fore in a new system and has taken to it immediately.
Holding has made just four Premier League appearances this season, half of them coming in the last week, and he’s shown his manager that he deserves to be in and around the first-team in 2017/18. The 21-year-old was signed as a long-term replacement for the likes of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker in 2016 but may be in contention for a starting place next season.
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud played 82 minutes in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final win against Manchester City but was largely ineffective at Wembley as his playing style didn’t fit the Gunners’ approach. The French international was utilised as the out-ball for Arsenal but didn’t have the pace to break the high City defence and was instead involved in aerial duels with Nicolas Otamendi.
Giroud failed to get in behind the Manchester City defence as a lack of any real athleticism, and chances were few and far between on the day. The former Montpellier man had two shots all game, completing just one pass every six minutes on average, and his withdrawal before extra time was expected earlier than it came.
Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been the Gunners’ standout star in 2017 and the English international impressed in Sunday’s FA Cup extra-time victory over Manchester City. Oxlade-Chamberlain has been operating as a right-sided wing-back due to the poor form of Hector Bellerin in recent weeks and was key in Arsenal coming from behind to reach the FA Cup final this weekend.
The 23-year-old played 105 minutes at Wembley Stadium and created more chances (3) than any his teammates, setting up Arsenal’s equaliser for Nacho Monreal. Oxlade-Chamberlain also made more dribbles (6) and whipped in eight crosses this weekend. While initially struggling at wing-back, he settled in the position and became influential in turning the tide on Pep Guardiola’s side.
Arsenal forward Theo Walcott will be hoping he starts in today’s FA Cup semi-final match against Manchester City given his impressive record in past meetings, let alone this competition this season. The English international has been a thorn in the City side previously due to his excessive pace on the counter to catch the Sky Blues’ defence cold, and he could well strike again given how ruthless he’s been in the FA Cup so far.
Arsenal travel to Wembley to face Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final this afternoon, and are hoping they can continue their fine head-to-head record to seal their place in the competition’s final for the third season out of four. The Gunners have recently ended their poor run of form in the Premier League and are desperate for silverware which could see them get a result.
Monday’s win over Middlesbrough sees Arsenal with some momentum going into today’s encounter, although City boast consecutive victories ahead of the meeting. However, the Sky Blues have failed to win three of their last four games away from the Etihad Stadium so Arsenal aren’t major underdogs by any means.
Arsenal may be 90 minutes away from reaching their third FA Cup final in four seasons with a semi-final clash to come against Manchester City, but the Gunners are still keeping an eye on the Premier League top-four and will be hoping Burnley and Crystal Palace can do them a favour in their respective games against Manchester United (5th) and Liverpool (3rd), to give them hope of gaining ground.
This afternoon’s FA Cup semi-final clash against Manchester City will be the 10th time Arsenal and the Citizens have met in a competitive fixture since 2013, but how have the last nine meetings gone between the two sides?
Previous nine head-to-heads between Arsenal and Manchester City
in all competitions
(2/4/17) Premier League: Arsenal 2-2 Manchester City
(18/12/16) Premier League: Manchester City 2-1 Arsenal
(8/5/16) Premier League: Manchester City 2-2 Arsenal
(21/12/15) Premier League: Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City
(18/1/15) Premier League: Manchester City 0-2 Arsenal
(13/9/14) Premier League: Arsenal 2-2 Manchester City
(10/8/14) Community Shield: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester City
(29/3/14) Premier League: Arsenal 1-1 Manchester City
(14/12/13) Premier League: Manchester City 6-3 Arsenal
Having made six appearances in all competitions for Arsenal in the last seven weeks, midfielder Aaron Ramsey has become an important player for manager Arsene Wenger and is likely to keep his place in the engine room for this afternoon’s FA Cup semi-final clash with Manchester City as a result.
The Welsh international has endured a stop-start season due to injury and inconsistent form, but made his first Premier League start for a month in Monday’s 2-1 win over Middlesbrough and was singled out for praise by Wenger in the build-up to this weekend’s match at Wembley.