Two teams who could really do with some silverware this season meet when Arsenal take on Manchester City in the second FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Sunday (14:00 BST, live on BT Sport 1).
This season looks like it might finally be the campaign in which Arsenal fail to secure Champions League qualification after 19 consecutive seasons of top-four finishes. While success in the Cup is unlikely to alter the perception that Arsene Wenger’s time in charge should come to an end, it would at least provide him with a chance to go out with a trophy.
Arsenal won the FA Cup in 2014 and 2015 on the back of strong finishes to the season. The 2014 triumph came after a five-game winning streak at the end of their league campaign, while the 2015 success concluded a run of 12 wins, three draws and one defeat in their final 16 matches. But their form this time around doesn’t provide as much reason for optimism.
The Gunners come into Sunday’s match having lost four, drawn one and won just three of their last eight matches in all competitions, with one of those victories coming against Conference side Lincoln City in their FA Cup quarter-final. In general, they have suffered a downturn in form during the second half of the season, scoring less, conceding more and seeing a resultant downturn in their accumulation of points, from 2.11 per match to 1.42.
Arsenal were a bit fortunate to come away with three points away to Middlesbrough on Monday night. Their switch to a back three didn’t really function as hoped and their hosts created enough chances to at least have taken a share of the spoils. But it was nevertheless a result that edged them to within seven points (with a game in hand) of the current occupants of the final top-four place: Sunday’s opponents Manchester City.
It has been a season of ups and downs for the Citizens and their coach Pep Guardiola. There have been plenty of promising performances and a few disappointing ones, but the main issue has been that they have been unable to score a sufficient number of goals to overcome the sloppy errors and occasional structural issues that have seen them concede unnecessarily.
They are still a good team and still have a very solid chance of overhauling Liverpool to take third place and the direct route to the Champions League group stage that accompanies it. But it still feels as if this City squad, despite being one of the most expensively assembled in the division, is in need of further tweaks in order to challenge for the title.
Guardiola is likely to be given further money to spend this summer, with the full-back positions an area in which reinforcement is particularly necessary, but his task for now is to find a way of ensuring that his debut campaign with City doesn’t become the first trophy-less season of his top-flight career. His side are hardly in sparkling form coming into the semi-final but have been boosted by successive victories in the build up to Sunday’s showpiece.
Both of the meetings between Arsenal and Man City this season have been entertaining encounters. City won out 2-1 on home soil, while the reverse fixture earlier this month ended in a 2-2 draw, with City twice taking the lead only to be pegged back on both occasions. Given that four of Arsenal’s other six matches against top-six sides, alongside four of City’s seven, have seen three or more goals, another high-scoring match should be expected.
There are likely to be plenty of twists and turns over the course of the game but City look to have the slight form advantage coming into it and if they can take the chances that are sure to come their way, should be capable of advancing to the final at Arsenal’s expense.
Arsenal vs Manchester City FA Cup Semi-Final Betting Tips Verdict
- The best odds with the online bookmakers for a Man City win are 10/11. In search of better value, this preview prefers to back Manchester City to win in a match with over 2.5 goals @ 6/4 with Paddy Power.
- Our other betting tip is to bet on Sergio Aguero to score at anytime @ 10/11 with Betfred, Paddy Power or William Hill.
- Latest FA Cup outright winner odds from best bookies.