Manchester City got the better of Premier League title rivals Arsenal with the help of Nathan Ake’s second-half strike which earned them a 1-0 victory in the Etihad Stadium in Friday’s heavyweight FA Cup fourth round tie.
In a game with only a few clear-cut opportunities Ake’s goal was the second of the season ended an impasse in 64 minutes following Julian Alvarez’s shot from the substitute’s spot hit the post.
As City are in the final 16 of the competition for the eighth time in a row, Arsenal are left to be focused on their pursuit of an unprecedented Premier League title in 19 years. Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal hold a five-point advantage over City and have a game in hand and the two teams are set to face off at the top of the table on February. 15.
City will enter that match having beat Arsenal during their previous six matches across all tournaments.
“Tight game Second half was better,” Guardiola told ITV Sport. “Really tough opponent.
“There isn’t a single player within the team locker rooms who is not happy with his”. We are very happy with the goal and how he fought among the top players of the Premier League now in [BukayoSaka]. Saka.
“As manager, you’ll want players who are like Nathan. He is worthy of all the great things in his life.”
As Pep Guardiola only made two modifications to his City squad — Stefan Ortega replacing Ederson in goal, and Ake replacing Aymeric Laporte in the back Arteta brought his team back to life by making six changes to the squad that defeated Manchester United on Sunday.
Alongside a first start with United States international Matt Turner in goal, as well as Kieran Tierney, who was the the former Man City left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko The first Arsenal debut for January signing Leandro Trossard.
Although they changed more than half of their squad It was Arsenal who had the most success of the first 45 minutes. Also, Trossard played at the center of his team’s most effective actions going forward.
In just half an hour, his nimble move down the left lead to a shot by the in-rushing Takehiro Tomiyasu that forced a diving goalkeeper to save Ortega. The City back-up was brought in for another time later in the first half, but this time Trossard was able to score his own goal with a powerful left-footed shot that was blocked one-handed.
The best chance however, was in the 58th minute, when Eddie Nketiah failed to continue his goal-scoring spree as the striker smashed Torssard’s ball wide in the six-yard range.
On the other hand City’s biggest threat was from direct shots to Haaland. Turner was on his line to keep Haaland from getting on the receiving end of a ball after an error made by Rob Holding, while a subsequent lobbed effort was a bit off the mark.
The second half began to get moving, City began to crank up the tension. The double substitution just prior to the half-hour mark was crucial to break the deadlock.
Within minutes of arriving on the field, World Cup winner Alvarez made a turn and fired an effort from 25 yards, which bounced off the back of the goalpost. Jack Grealish did well to grab the rebound and keep away from players before passing the ball on Ake who smashed it over Turner and to the left of the goal with his less powerful right foot.
Arsenal could have responded quickly, Arsenal could have responded immediately, but Laporte who came in for his injury-stricken John Stones in the first half, made an incredible final-ditch block to stop an extremely inviting strike from Granit Xhaka that was aimed at Nketiah to score a goal from close range.
The visitors came back strongly in the closing moments in the final minutes as they tried to score an equaliser which could result in a replay. However, City’s defense — and Ortega in goal specifically was up to the task.
“I believe we could have made more enjoyment from the contest,” said Arteta. “One act changed everything.
“It is extremely difficult to beat this team, but we did go face to face with them. In the crucial moments of big matches, you must create the impact. This is how you take these games to victory.”