Man City Knocks Arsenal Out Of The FA Cup, And Advance To The Fifth Round.

Manchester City knocks Arsenal out of the FA Cup with a narrow victory on Friday night, and advance into the fifth round of the competition.

It was the first encounter between the current Premier League's top-two sides in the 2022/23 season.

Following a shock elimination from the Carabao Cup by Southampton, this match appeared more important to Man City, as manager Pep Guardiola started the game with a strong XI.

Guardiola made just one outfield change from City’s 3-0 win over Wolves last weekend.

On the other hand, the Gunners who were high from their 3-2 victory over strong rivals Man United last Sunday, saw manager Mikel Arteta prioritise Arsenal's Premier League title challenge with his team selection.

He opted to rotate his squad, resting six regular key starters, including the benching of skipper Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli and William Saliba for the trip to the Etihad.

Man City XI: 

Ortega; Lewis, Stones, Akanji, Aké; Rodri, De Bruyne, Gündoğan; Mahrez, Grealish, Haaland.

Arsenal XI: 

Turner; Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka, Vieira; Saka, Trossard, Nketiah.

Bukayo Saka and Erling Haaland were dubbed as the two dangermen prior to kick-off, but they were actually played out of the game by their opposite numbers.

Arsenal started fairly strongly, taking the game to City who struggled to find a way through with the first half ending goalless.

However, after an hour of tactical football, it was one of Guardiola's substitutes, Julian Alvarez, that brought a lacklustre second half to life 26 minutes from time.

The opening goal came from an unlikely source, after Alvarez had struck the post with his long-range effort, and from the rebound Jack Grealish’s pass picked out defender Nathan Ake, who striked the ball into the bottom corner in the 64th minute.

The former Bournemouth defender had time to adjust his body and curl a shot low into the far corner of the net.

The visitors nearly hit back immediately as only a brilliant clearance from Aymeric Laporte denied Eddie Nketiah a tap in.

Arteta saw his team try and force chances in the latter stage of the game, forcing some rather panicked last-ditch defending from the Premier League holders, but it wasn't enough.

Guardiola finally got the better of his former assistant Arteta as the home side edged through with a 1-0 win.

It was Arsenal's first defeat in three months, which would perhaps land a psychological blow on the Premier League leaders ahead of their top-flight clash next month.

Arsenal hold a five-point lead over the defending champions at the top of the table with a game in hand.

The sides will meet twice more in the next three months in the Premier League with the title on the line, first is at the Emirates on February 15, and then at the Etihad on April 26, which are regarded as key dates for the destination of the 2022/23 crown.

Meanwhile, Man City would be looking to add to their six FA Cup successes with a second under Guardiola. The draw for the fifth round will take place on Monday, with ties played in the week from February 27.

Arsenal will now their season center around the Premier League and the Europa League, with the focus on winning a first domestic title since 2004 being the main priority.

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