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Review and Player Ratings as City progress in FA Cup after hard-fought win – Man City 1-0 Arsenal

Manchester City produced a 1-0 win over current Premier League leaders Arsenal in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup, with Nathan Ake claiming the only goal of the night.


Pep Guardiola selected a strong XI to face the Gunners, who had rotated a number of important players. The two changes to the lineup that faced Wolves were Stefan Ortega in for Ederson, and Ake returned to the starting XI, replacing Aymeric Laporte. Ortega took up his usual position in goals for the domestic cups with a back four of Rico Lewis, John Stones, Manuel Akanji and Ake. Rodri stood in his usual place in the centre of midfield with Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne just in front of him. Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez once again started out wide, with Erling Haaland leading the line.


It was a slow and nervy start for City as they struggled to progress the ball up the pitch to threaten the Arsenal goal. Arsenal had a great chance very early into the half as Takehiro Tomiyasu found himself free to take a strike at goal, but Ortega was there to deny him with an impressive save. City's first chance came in the 9th minute from a Rob Holding mistake as Haaland attempted to capitalise with an impressive acrobatic attempt on goal that was cleared before it crossed the line. The game stayed relatively quiet, with City still struggling to get the ball up the pitch and Arsenal attempting to capitalise when possession turned over. Ake did fantastically against Bukayo Saka all game, but Arsenal were finding some luck on the right side of City's defence as new signing Leandro Trossard looked to test Lewis and Stones.

Photo courtesy of OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

City's next major chance came in the 25th minute when De Bruyne found a chance to strike the ball from distance with an impressive effort that just missed the top corner. The remainder of the first half was relatively quiet as Arsenal continued to try and create down City's right side, but the Blues managed to hold out. However, just before halftime, Stones appeared to have pulled his hamstring and had to be replaced by Laporte.

The second half again started slow; Arsenal had made a number of changes at halftime, and there appeared to be an intricate tactical battle as Guardiola and Arteta attempted to find solutions to the other team's tactical setups. In the 58th minute, Guardiola decided to make a couple of changes, with Julian Alvarez replacing Mahrez and Kyle Walker replacing Lewis. Not long after these changes, City finally found themselves some luck as in the 64th minute, an Alvarez attempt from range found itself hitting the post before landing at the feet of Grealish, who drew the Arsenal defenders allowing Ake to find a small pocket of space to receive the ball from Grealish before producing an expertly placed shot into the far bottom corner. 1-0 City.

Photo courtesy of OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Arsenal tried to quickly reply after the goal, but Laporte struck into action to deny Eddie Nketiah an easy chance by flicking the ball out of the danger area. City, for the rest of the second half, looked more like the City we are used to seeing; they took a controlled and methodical approach to slow the game down and maintain possession to prevent Arsenal the chance of getting back into the game. Ortega also found himself requiring swift action a couple of times to dive onto threatening balls into the box and deny Arsenal the chance to equalise. Although this wasn't the most exciting or goal-crazy game we have seen under Guardiola there was an essence of the old City, who were able to see out these types of games where chances may not be too abundant, but the defensive structure and maturity was able to hold onto the 1-0 lead they had earned.

City will be ball 12 in the FA Cup fifth-round draw on Monday, January 30 at 19:00 (GMT), with the ties scheduled to be played in the midweek commencing Monday, February 27 – the exact date and opponent to be confirmed.


Man of the Match

Without a doubt, Nathan Ake deserved the Man of the Match award for his impressive performance tonight. Not only did he score the winning goal of the match, but he had a truly impressive defensive showing as well by keeping the inform Saka out of the game.

Photo courtesy of OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Player Ratings

Ortega - 8 Stones - 6 Akanji - 7 Lewis - 6 Ake - 9 Rodri - 7 Gundogan - 7 De Bruyne - 6 Mahrez - 6 Grealish - 8 Haaland - 7 Substitutions: Laporte - 7, Walker - 7, Alvarez - 7, Bernardo - N/A


Written by: @BPFoden_

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