Nathan Ake was Manchester City’s unlikely match-winner in their 1-0 victory over Arsenal in the fourth round of the FA Cup, helping his side to perhaps land a psychological blow on the Premier League leaders ahead of their top-flight clash next month.
Mikel Arteta prioritized Arsenal’s title challenge with his team selection, resting six regulars for the trip to the Etihad, but a strong City XI struggled to find a way through until defender Ake passed the ball into the bottom corner (64) after sub Julian Alvarez had struck a post.
Guardiola had appeared less than impressed with his side’s first-half performance, which saw Leandro Trossard catch the eye on his first Arsenal start and ended with John Stones appearing to suffer a hamstring injury. But the City head coach eventually got the better of his former assistant Arteta as the home side edged through.
After a shock exit to Southampton in the Carabao Cup, City will now be favorites to win this competition and add to their six FA Cup successes with a second under Guardiola. The draw for the fifth round will take place on Monday, with ties played in the week commencing February 27.
This was far from the thrilling contest Arsenal had been in with City’s neighbors Manchester United last weekend but it added extra intrigue to their upcoming Premier League clash, with February 15 circled as a key date for the destination of the 2022/23 crown.
Arsenal will be disappointed to have been knocked out of the cup – but will hope that, at full strength, they are able to build on the positive aspects of this performance to be the ones celebrating when these sides meet again in a couple of weeks’ time.