Manchester, January 28 (BNA): Manchester City issued a statement of intent to eliminate Arsenal 1-0 in the FA Cup.
Nathan Ake’s 64th-minute goal decided the fourth-round match at Etihad Stadium and may reverberate through the rest of the season, the Associated Press reports.
Arsenal City hold a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League, but their seven-match unbeaten record has been ended by City, who have run three consecutive victories in all competitions.
The two best teams in England will face off in the league at the Emirates Stadium on February 15. For now, City boss Pep Guardiola has gained an advantage over his former assistant, Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta.
“I know how difficult it is to beat Arsenal,” Guardiola said. “They lost one game in the Premier League, so I know how difficult it is.”
Defender Aki was likely the winner of the match after he volleyed a low shot past goalkeeper Matt Turner.
Arsenal had chances while enjoying the best of the first half. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Leandro Trossard had to save from City goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, and Eddie Nketiah’s shot from close range was narrow.
The visitors were forced to push when City improved after the break and Ake delivered the decisive blow.
“(I’m) really disappointed,” said Arteta. “We could have achieved a lot from the game. In the big moments in the big games you have to make the difference.”
While a place in the fifth round of the cup was at stake, the wider context of the match between the two top teams in the league race was impossible to ignore.
Arsenal were in fantastic form, getting 50 points after 19 games and playing with a confidence not seen since Arsene Wenger’s title-winning teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
As if to underscore the fact that the trophy is not a priority for either club, Guardiola and Arteta have left key players out of the squad.
Guardiola was replaced by Ederson, Kyle Walker, Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva.
Arteta excluded Aaron Ramsdal, Ben White, William Saliba, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli and Alexander Zinchenko.
Arsenal signing Trossard made his first start since joining from Brighton last week.
Despite the changes, Arsenal created better chances in the first half but couldn’t capitalize on them.
City started to take control of the game after the break without creating many clear openings until Ake broke the deadlock.
Substitute Alvarez beat Turner from outside the penalty area but hit the post. Jack Grealish picked up the rebound and laid off Laki, who hit a first-time effort into the corner.
The exclusion reduces Arsenal’s distraction in their bid for the title and Arteta will hope to strengthen his side before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
The London club has been linked with a $74m transfer for Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo, but Arteta did not answer specific questions about the player.
“We have been very active in the market. We have some essentials,” he said. “If there is something else available, the club is willing to try to do so when it is reasonable, and hopefully he is a player who can improve our squad.”