Manchester City travel to Wembley on Saturday where they will face a buoyant Arsenal side in the FA Cup Semi Final.
It does not seem too long ago since Manchester City lined up against Arsenal in the FA Cup Semi Final. The last time was just 3 years ago at the end of Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge.
I remember the warm sunny day and the cautious optimism I felt as we travelled to London for the game. But, the day was decided by a refereeing decison and City inexplicably finished the season empty handed.
This time there will be no memories of the journey or the comraderie of other fans as we prepare to face a big game in an empty Wembley.
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Quite how that will impact upon the occasion is unclear but suffice to say this will be a different kind of occasion. Hopefully City can move Arsenal aside as easily as they did in the League just a few weeks ago.
Guardiola has been heavily rotating his playing side in the matches leading up to this game to try and keep his players at their best. This FA Cup is a real target for the team and accordingly we can expect to see a full strength City side in action.
City are probably without Joao Cancelo and Claudio Bravo, both of whom are returning from injury but otherwise this is a largely fit team, ready to try and carve a passage to the Final.
Ederson will start in goal and both Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker will be at full back, hoping to press and restrict Arsenal. Aymeric Laporte will be partnered again with Eric Garcia, and they will be hoping to contain an Arsenal front three likely to be Patrick Aubameyang, Alexander Lacazette and Reiss Nelson.
Rodri will hold the defensive line, hoping that a combination of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne light up midfield. How our three midfielders will cope with their four will be a feature of the game, where movement and precision cast dividends.
I would be surprised if Guardiola started with either Phil Foden or Bernardo Silva in midfield, believing experience and form will be key factors.
Up front City will have the rampant Raheem Sterling hoping to add to his tally alongside the busy Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez.
On paper the City side should be too good for Arsenal but sometimes things do not go according to plan. VAR anyone?
Let us hope we can progress and stay in the hunt for at least a double by the end of the season, or maybe even a treble!