Arsenal v Manchester City Match Preview: Team news and predictions

Gabriel Jesus could make an early return from injury for Manchester City’s FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal on Sunday.

The Brazilian has not played since suffering a foot injury against Bournemouth on February 13.

There were doubts whether he would play again this season, but he has returned to training and will travel to London with City on Saturday.

“He’s much, much better,” said City boss Pep Guardiola. “He’s coming back with his happiness, and we are so happy. We are going to travel, all the group, to Wembley, he will be part of that and after that we’ll see.”

After joining City in January, Jesus scored three goals in four starts.

His return will be a welcome boost for City as they look to finish the season on a high.

Arsenal have lost four of their last eight games in all competitions and had to come from behind twice to draw 2-2 with City at the Emirates earlier this month.

They have won the FA Cup in two of the last three seasons. but also face a fight to finish in the top four in the Premier League.

“We don’t have to make a choice,” said manager Arsene Wenger. “We are not in a position to chose this or that.

“The next game is a semi-final, so we have to give everything to get to the final. We are ambitious, we have done it before, we know we can do it, but in the previous semis we were favourites so the problem was different.”

Team news

Arsenal have a number of injury problems to contend with as David Ospina (back), Danny Welbeck (toe), Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez (thigh) are all missing, while Jeff Reine-Adelaide (ankle) and Santi Cazorla (Achilles) will not play again this season.

Wenger changed to a three-man defence for Monday’s 2-1 win at Middlesbrough and admits he could stick with the new system against City with the likes of Theo Walcott and Hector Bellerin hoping for recalls.

David Seaman says Arsene Wenger shouldn't take the blame for the team's current poor form
David Seaman says Arsene Wenger shouldn’t take the blame for the team’s current poor form

Jesus could return for City, but defender John Stones will not be available due to a muscular injury.

Stones is also a doubt for the derby clash against Manchester United next Thursday, live on Sky Sports.

Opta stats

This will be Arsenal’s 29th appearance in the FA Cup semi-finals – the most of any team in the competition’s history.

They’ve also won the trophy 12 times, a joint-record alongside Manchester United.

Manchester City have progressed from each of their last eight FA Cup semi-finals, most recently in 2013 against Chelsea. Their last defeat at this stage was in 1932 against Arsenal.

This will be the fourth meeting between these sides in the FA Cup. Man City won the first en route to winning the trophy in 1904, with Arsenal winning the next two in the 1932 semi-final (finishing as runners up) and the fifth round in 1971 (finishing as winners).

Pep Guardiola won his only previous game in charge of a team at Wembley Stadium, beating Manchester United 3-1 with Barcelona in the 2011 Champions League final. He also played in the 1992 European Cup final there with Barca, beating Sampdoria 1-0.

Alexis Sanchez has scored five goals in his four appearances at Wembley Stadium (3 in 3 for Arsenal, and a brace for Chile against England).

The Gunners come into this game on the back of just five wins in their last 13 games in all competitions (D1 L7), with two of those victories coming against non-league sides (Sutton Utd and Lincoln City).

Charlie’s prediction

Arsenal had City by the throat and let them off the hook at the Emirates and, while they didn’t play that well at the Etihad, could have won it.

Finally, Wenger has decided he can change the format of the team and while it wasn’t a great performance at Middlesbrough, they got the win and regain a bit of confidence.

I think he’ll play a similar system and hopefully we’ll start to see a bit more fluency in the play, with Alexis Sanchez looking a bit more like himself.

Will Alexis Sanchez lead Arsenal to victory?
Will Alexis Sanchez lead Arsenal to victory?

Olivier Giroud will be in the team but only because the team isn’t performing and he’s got the chance to prove he’s worth his place on the perfect stage.

His movement is poor but in certain games you need to hit him to relieve pressure and start the build up, which suits Mesut Ozil more, and I think the balance is better with him in the team for this sort of game, when the defence might be under pressure you have to go back to front.

I’m going for a north London final, with the big prize coming down to the perfect or worst possible ending for Arsene Wenger.

Sam predicts: Arsenal to win 2-1

Betting

City are Observer Football Pundit’s 17/20 favourites to win in 90 minutes with Arsenal 14/5 while the draw and extra-time is a 29/10 chance. City also headed into the weekend as favourites to lift the trophy with Arsene Wenger’s side considered outright outsiders.

Sergio Aguero heads the first goalscorer betting at 3/1 while Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez are twice the price at 6/1 piece, with the Chilean enhanced from 4/1 to 5/1 to score in a win for the Gunners.

To bet on this game,  observer click here

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