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Arsenal at Manchester City FA Cup 4th round match thread: dress rehearsal

The real show comes later this season in the Premier League.

Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal travel to the Etihad for an FA Cup 4th round tie against Manchester City. If there ever was a good time to face Pep Guardiola’s side, it’s right now. The Gunners have had a workweek to prepare for the match, and they have eight days off before facing Everton (with new manager Sean Dyche) in the Premier League on February 4th. I expect Mikel Arteta to deploy most, if not all, of his first-choice players.

What if somebody gets hurt? Yeah, that would be a bummer. But that’s part of football. Players get hurt. You can’t walk on eggshells and put guys in bubblewrap for every “unimportant” match. Players also need to maintain match sharpness. They generally play one game every 5-7 days, so giving the first choice players the match off runs the risk of disrupting their routine, too.

A lot has been made about the implications (or lack thereof) of this match on the Premier League title race. The pundits are talking about momentum, sending a message, confidence, and anything else they can make up to fill time. Because that’s precisely what it is — stuff made up for content. This match has no implications for the title race unless somebody important for either side gets hurt. Both teams know how good the other is, and the players won’t give a you-know-what about the result in this match when the clubs face off in the Premier League later this season.

Manchester City has an almost full complement of players available. Phil Foden is the only player who may miss out with a knock. Arsenal will be without the usuals — Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Jesus — and Mohamed Elneny, who picked up what could be a season-ending knee injury in training last week. Emile Smith Rowe will be held out for precautionary reasons after experiencing some discomfort in his thigh during the week.

Fun fact: the previous four times the Gunners have beaten City in the FA Cup, they’ve gone on to win the entire competition.

Arsenal - Turner, Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Xhaka, Partey, Vieira, Trossard, Saka, Nketiah

Manchester City - Ortega, Lewis, Stones, Akanji, Ake, Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Grealish, Haaland

WHAT: Arsenal at Manchester City, FA Cup 4th round
WHERE: The Etihad, Manchester
WHEN: Friday, January 27th 12 pm PT | 3 pm ET | 8 pm BT
US TV: Streaming on ESPN+.

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