The Premier League’s top two clash on Friday night, but not in the league. This time, it’s the FA Cup, as Manchester City welcome Arsenal to the Etihad Stadium (8pm; TV: Live on ITV). Will the hosts dent the confidence of a team that has dominated England’s top division this season? Or can the visitors keep winning? This FA Cup game preview, with its MCFC vs AFC betting tips, aims to answer those questions.
After criticism from many, including their own manager, who recently commented that he didn’t recognise his team at times, the Citizens have bounced back with two wins. They beat Tottenham by four goals to two, before denying Wolves 3-0, with Premier League runaway top scorer Erling Haaland bagging another hat-trick.
For one reason or another, Friday’s hosts have looked somewhat transitional this season. They have had to adapt to Haaland being their new focal point, while they have struggled to keep teams at bay on an alarmingly regular basis. That said, after two big wins, Pep Guardiola’s men may fancy themselves to get the better of the Gunners, which could spark a comeback in the Premier League.
For Arsenal, things continue to go well. They made light work of winning the North London Derby away at Spurs. Although they were very nearly held by Manchester United, they got the job done again last time, courtesy of a late goal from Eddie Nketiah, who now has four goals in his last three starts.
The team led by Mikel Arteta, the former coaching prodigy of Guardiola, have now won three on the bounce. They are without a defeat since losing to Brighton in the EFL / Carabao / League Cup (whatever you want to call it) in November. In contrast, hosts MCFC have lost two of their last four.
Hosts still hard to face at home
Yes, Arsenal currently have the advantage in the league, and yes Manchester City have had some uncharacteristically poor moments in recent weeks, but we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that the hosts are a long way off Friday’s visitors.
After all, the Citizens have won each of their last three at home, scoring a total of 11 goals in the process, notching four times against both Chelsea and Tottenham. In terms of goals scored and chances created, Man City are easily the best home team in the Premier League this term, so let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that they are suddenly not good enough.
We know that Arsenal have looked strong in all areas, and we know that they certainly carry a rather sizable attacking threat, but nobody is more threatening than Guardiola’s men, who in all competitions at home, have scored a staggering total of 56 goals in 17 games.
Marching on away from home
Even away from the comforts of home, Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal squad really has been thundering along. They arrive at this junction having won each of their last five travelling fixtures. Impressively, they have scored 12 goals during that time, but what’s more eye-catching is the fact that they have kept four clean sheets and have conceded just two goals.
It is in fact from a defensive point of view that Arsenal have been so good this term, especially on the road. In the Premier League, they have conceded just six away goals in ten games, conceding more than once in just one of those ten. In all competitions, Friday’s visitors have kept nine clean sheets in 14 games.
Domestically, they have also scored in 100% of their travelling games, notching two or more in seven out of 11. They have a settled and well-drilled back four, containing clever players who are not only good at resisting opposition attacks but who are good at keeping possession and giving Arsenal a solid platform from which to build. Oleksandr Zinchenko has been perhaps the best example of that.
Recent record points towards the hosts
Arsenal do not have the best recent record in this fixture, there can be no getting away from that. Friday’s visitors have lost each of their last five against Manchester City, losing by two goals to one when the pair last met. When the teams last clashed at this venue, Man City won by five goals to nil.
Manchester City have also won each of their last six home games against Arsenal, not conceding in the last three. Arsenal have not won away at the Etihad since 2015.
MCFC vs AFC: Could we see a low-scoring game?
With the Premier League’s best two teams clashing, goals seem inevitable, but could it pay to take the opposing view? Sure, this preview is talking about the two best attacks in England’s top tier, but we’re also talking about two of the best defences.
For all the Citizens have been criticised of late, they have kept a clean sheet in two of their last three at home, while they have only conceded an average of just over a single goal per game at home. That doesn’t exactly point towards defensive insecurity.
What’s more, we’ve seen that Arsenal are happy to keep their shape and frustrate teams on the road, opting to take the sting out of the game, and they’re very good at doing it. As touched on in this preview above, they have recently shutout the likes of Tottenham, Wolves and Chelsea away from home, while they don’t generally make a habit of being involved in away games where both teams score.
At the prices, ‘Both Teams to Score – NO’ makes plenty of appeal. Both teams have scored in only three of Arsenal’s road games in the Premier League this term. The hosts have been involved in a quite a few games where they both score and concede, but both teams have scored in just two of their last six. This fixture has frequently seen one team falter offensively in recent years.
Both teams have scored in only two of the last eight renewals of this fixture, while both teams have scored in none of the last three meetings at Man City’s ground, so we probably should not be stunned if the goals don’t fly in at both ends in this FA Cup match on Friday night.
So for the betting tips against the top online United Kingdom bookies, it is just the one suggestion for the conclusion of this MCFC vs AFC preview:
- Both Teams to Score – NO @ beat odds of 13/10 with BetVictor.
Bradley Gibbs is an experienced football writer. He is an expert analyst on Premier League, and all global football leagues & tournaments, for Just Bookies. Bradley has been published by many respected outlets, including USA Betting and the Racing & Football Outlook. He has also written betting strategy guides.