Tag Archives: FA Cup

MATCH REPORT: Man City 1 – 0 Arsenal

Manchester City (0) 1 Arsenal (0) 0

FA Cup Fourth Round

Etihad Stadium, Ashton New Road, Manchester M11 3FF

Friday, 27th January 2023. Kick-off time: 8.00pm

(4-3-3) Matt Turner; Takehiro Tomiyasu, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhães, Kieran Tierney; Fabio Vieira, Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka (c); Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah, Leandro Trossard.

Substitutes: Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Martin Ødegaard, Gabriel Martinelli, William Saliba, Jakub Kiwior, Albert Sambi Lokonga, (Marcus Vinicius Oliveira Alencar) Marquinhos, Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Yellow Cards: Rob Holding, Oleksandr Zinchenko

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 46%

Referee: Paul Tierney

Assistant Referees: Constantine Hatzidakis, Neil Davies

Fourth Official: Robert Jones

VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR John Brook; AVAR Harry Lennard

Attendance: 51,694

For tonight’s game here at the Etihad Stadium, Mikel Arteta has made six changes from the team that beat Manchester United last Sunday. A welcome full debut from Leandro Trossard, and it is also good to see our new defender Jakub Kiwior on the substitute’s bench tonight too.

Arsenal kicked off the match and within two minutes there was a bit of an escape for us when Rob Holding and Erling Haaland were wrestling just outside our penalty area; the City man got beyond him and went down just outside the box but fortunately the referee gave the free-kick to us. A few minutes later, some wonderful play by new boy Leandro Trossard on his debut, when he left John Stones standing with some good skill and cut it back for Takehiro Tomiyasu, whose drive inside the penalty area was well saved by Stefan Ortega to deny our man the opening goal of the night. There was a bit of a drama when Erling Haaland shoved away Rob Holding and ran some forty yards towards our goal. Matt Turner raced out of his box to stop him bearing down on goal, but the ball fell to the City man though and his twenty-five yard overhead kick went over Matt Turner, but was cleared by Takehiro Tomiyasu. We were doing a good job not letting the home side settle too long on the ball, and as such, is causing them some frustration in some areas. We won a free kick on the edge of the penalty area, and as the ball came loose, Bukayo Saka’s first-time shot from twenty yards went straight at a defender, and as the game started to settle down, both sides are looking for gaps and spaces to exploit. After twenty minutes, the best chance of the match so far fell to us, when Leandro Trossard nipped into the penalty area and blasted in a shot which Stefan Ortega parried away. So close. After a Kevin de Bruyne shot that shaved Matt Turner’s right-hand post, Erling Haaland went down to the floor following a challenge from Rob Holding, and both coaches used the hiatus for some impromptu coaching on the sidelines. After the restart, we were unlucky not to score when Leandro Trossard burst down the left wing, crossed the ball into the middle for Eddie Nketiah to guide the ball narrowly past the right-hand post. A bizarre Kieran Tierney ricochet launched the ball towards his own goal, Erling Haaland barged past Gabriel but our man diid enough to put him off and the City man shot wide, thankfully. Just before half time, Rob Holding received a yellow card for holding onto Erling Haaland’s shirt; he needs to be careful, as it is the last thing we need is for him to get his marching orders from referee Paul Tierney. There were two minutes injury time, in which not too much of note happened, and we went into the break feeling that we had the run of them at places in this half.

The home side get the second half under way and unsurprisingly, William Saliba replaced Rob Holding, and in a double substitution, Albert Sambi Lokonga replaced Thomas Partey as well. Takehiro Tomiyasu did very well to head a long Stefan Ortega clearance back to Matt Turner before Erling Haaland could run on to it. City put us under pressure for the next few minutes, and after Matt Turner punched a ball clear, he went to ground in our penalty area, but after some attention to him by our medical staff, he carried on playing. Just before the hour mark, Fabio Vieira had a chance to score, but his volley went wide, and although both sides are having some good chances, the match was starting to level out a bit, and after the ferocious start to the match, things were looking a wee bit pedestrian now. Somehow, in the space of a minute, the home side hit the post, and shortly afterwards, a Nathan Ake shot beat Matt Turner to open the scoring for the Mancunians. Immediately, Mikel Arteta made two substitutions, with Kieran Tierney and Leandro Trossard being replaced by Gabriel Martinelli and Oleksandr Zinchenko. With fresh legs out there on the pitch, we came close to scoring when Eddie Nketiah had the ball taken away from him at the last minute, sadly. The goal certainly livened things up somewhat, and with twenty minutes of the match remaining, we are trying hard to get through the City defence, but we just could not break through despite all of our best efforts. Bukayo Saka was replaced by Martin Ødegaard, who unceremoniously received the captain’s armband from Granit Xhaka. Unfortunately the substitutes and stopping for fouls and the suchlike have broken the continuity of the game, and as such, the crowd are sensing that this match could still go either way tonight now. It appears to be that we are finding it hard to break out of our half, and City are applying the basic rules of game management utilising the possession game. With the clock running down, we had two corner kicks in succession, but sadly they went nowhere. Gabriel Martinelli had two really good chances to score, but was denied when Stefan Ortega flew out of his goal to save at his feet; we certainly look a different team since he came onto the pitch. Oleksandr Zinchenko received a yellow card for a messy challenge, and as the match slipped into four minutes of injury time, our chances were becoming very few and far between now. The match petered out to its natural conclusion, and with it, our exit from this year’s FA Cup.

All in all, yes, it was a bitterly disappointing result, but there was not a lot between Manchester City and ourselves when it comes right down to it. We had our chances, we played very well, particularly in the first half, and at the end of the day, a draw would have been a fairer result to take away from the Etihad Stadium tonight. There were good things to take away from the match; an impressive performance by Leandro Trossard, Matt Turner made some truly amazing saves which literally kept us in the game at one point, and Takehiro Tomiyasu’s positional play was exceptionally good. Still, all things considered, we did the best we could on a cold Friday night in Manchester. Who knows what will happen when we meet in the Premiership again in a few weeks’ time?

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday, 4th February at 12.30pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon


How seriously should Arteta take the FA Cup?

Two real basic schools of thought:

1) Arteta should rest everyone. The league is our priority. No need to risk players in the FA Cup.

2) Arteta needs to play everyone. Keep the momentum. Winning breed more winning.

Rest them all

Tonight we face Manchester City away, and I really can see the pros and cons of both arguments.

We need to keep rotating the squad. Give key players a break when we can. Especially the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Thomas Partey (injury issues), Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka (over playing) and Eddie Nketiah (only striker).

We need to go “all-in” on the league and give these players a weekend off.

And even if they did play, City will probably beat us anyone, which will be even more damaging.

Play them all

Winning breeds winning.

We stick out our first team and give ourselves the best chance of going through.

Beat City in the cup then confidence will be high when we play them twice in the league. Play a 2nd string and get dicked, it will eb away at that confidence.

Our last game was Sunday. That was 5 days ago. Our next game is next Saturday, over a week away. There is no need to rest players. We have a week without them playing.

And we should be looking to win as many trophies as possible. The FA Cup might end up as a consolation prize for us if we do not win the league. We have to stay in it to give ourselves the best chance of winning it.

My view? Probably half way between both.

We need to play our strongest possibile team, but also need to give a few players a break.

Matt Turner will get a run out in goal, whilst Takehiro Tomiyasu should start ahead of Ben White in defence.

White certainly does not needs a break, but right back is an area where we can make a change without seeing a drop-off in quality. A run out for Tomiyasu keeps him fresh.

Kieran Tierney should come in for Zinchenko on the left. The Ukranian has had his injury issues so two weeks without football will not be a bad thing.

Despite the accuisation of Jakub Kiwior, I would not expect him to start tonight. Nor should Rob Holding start. I would stick with William Saliba and Gabriel. Keep that strong middle.

Mohamed Elneny will come in for Thomas Partey.

Partey is the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League and our chance to be Champions is linked directly to his fitness. No need to risk him in either the FA Cup or Europa League this season. Just have him fit for the 19 remaining Premier League games.

Although this is what I had written before Elneny’s injury. I think we will see Lokonga given one last chance to show he has a future.

Martin Odegaard and Granit Xhaka should both start.

Odegaard did not play in the World Cup and the drop off from Xhaka to Albert Sambi Lokonga is too great.

Lokonga’s future needs to be questioned and we saw in the Oxford game the difference in class between him and Xhaka

I would make one change in the front 3, with Leandro Trossard coming in for either Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka or Gabriel Martinelli.

You can probably make an argument for all 3.

Saka has played the most for club and country this season. Nketiah is our only out and out striker. Trossard was mainly bought in as Martinelli cover and competition.

I would probably go for the later.

I think Trossard for Martinelli will be the most likely substitution when we are chasing a game.

Left wing is Trossard’s most natural position, and Martinelli is less of a threat than Saka.

We saw the sub work to great affect against Manchester United on Sunday, and I can see if becoming a regualr 70 minute change.

So how seriously should Arteta take the FA Cup? I am 50/50, As is the team I would select:

Tomiyasu Saliba Gabriel Tierney
Saka Odegaard Xhaka Trossard


Match Report: Oxford United 0 – 3 Arsenal

Oxford United (0) 0 Arsenal (0) 3

FA Cup Third Round

The Kassam Stadium, Grenoble Road, Littlemore, Oxford OX4 4XP

Monday, 9th January 2023. Kick-off time: 8.00pm

(4-3-3) Matt Turner; Takehiro Tomiyasu, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhães, Kieran Tierney; Fabio Vieira, Mohamed Elneny, Albert Sambi Lokonga; Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli.

Substitutes: Ben White, Thomas Partey, Martin Ødegaard, Emile Smith-Rowe, (Marcus Vinicius Oliveira Alencar) Marquinhos, Karl Hein, Granit Xhaka, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Nathan Butler-Oyedeji.

Scorers: Mohamed Elneny (63 mins), Eddie Nketiah (70 mins, 75 mins)

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 64%

Referee: David Coote

Assistant Referees: Lee Betts, Timothy Wood

Fourth Official: Michael Salisbury

VAR and goal-line technology will not be in operation for this match.

Attendance: 11,538

As we may unfortunately recall, having suffered a shock exit at this stage of the competition last season at the hands of Nottingham Forest, it has been twenty-seven years since we last experienced FA Cup Third Round elimination in successive seasons, so we do not wish to leave this illustrious competition tonight, especially as we hold the record for most wins in the FA Cup, of course. The winners of tonight’s match will meet Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in the Fourth Round at an unscheduled date sometime between Friday 27th and Monday 30th January. Mikel Arteta has made seven changes for this game tonight, with Gabriel, Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli being the only players which retain their places in the side from last week’s draw with Newcastle United at the Emirates. It is also heartening to see Emile Smith-Rowe is back on the bench tonight after four months sidelined due to a groin injury. Arsenal are wearing the all-white kit tonight in support of the No More Red anti-knife crime campaign in London.

The home side got the match underway, and the opening exchanges were quite lively with both teams showing good intent to win on a very wet and heavy pitch. We were finding it a problem trying to play our usual game in the early stages of the match, due to the pitch, but there were odd flashes of brilliance here and there; just after Bukayo Saka showed his unhappiness as the linesman flagged for a foul against him as he was leaning onto Ciaron Brown from a long ball in behind the left-back, we had two corners awarded to us in quick succession as a superb Kieran Tierney cross was blocked and went over the by-line. The initial corner was cleared, before Fabio Vieira’s cross was deflected out of play again. The home side cleared the ball, and after they kicked it out of play, Kieran Tierney dried the ball on a towel before launching a long throw into the penalty area. It almost dropped for Bukayo Saka at the back post but it was kicked clear by an Oxford United defender. Generally, as far as we are concerned, this match is a classic case of one step forwards, two steps back, sadly. So far we have not created a clearcut chance, so much so, that Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey are up off the Arsenal bench and are warming up on the sidelines. With six minutes of the first half remaining, we had a shooting opportunity courtesy of Albert Sambi Lokonga, and his left-footed drive was blocked by a sliding Elliott Moore tackle. It did hit his left arm, but he was using it to support his body as he went to the ground, which is allowed in the rules, of course. Our players surrounded referee David Coote, but he is not going to give a penalty here. A few minutes later, David Coote blew the whistle for half time, and although we have dominated the play, we were still unable to score.

We kicked off proceedings for the second half, and almost immediately, Eddie Nketiah had the chance to feed in either Gabriel Martinelli or Fabio Vieira but took the chance himself; sadly the subsequent corner was completely wasted by us. Gabriel Martinelli had a good chance to open the scoring a few minutes later, but Elliott Moore blocked his shot. Ten minutes after the restart, Bukayo Saka whip[ed in a wicked corner, right under Edward McGinty, who was under pressure from Takehiro Tomiyasu, but the Oxford keeper did well to punch it behind for another corner, which went nowhere again. On the hour, Granit Xhaka and Oleksandr Zinchenko replaced Albert Sambi Lokonga and Kieran Tierney, and our pressure on the Oxford goal continued. After sixty-three minutes, we finally took the lead when a Fabio Vieira free-kick from the left was headed in at close range by Mohamed Elneny, which was his first goal since May 2021; a deep sigh of relief went around the Arsenal supporters in the stadium at that moment. The goal certainly zipped us up somewhat, as our passing became crisper and our desire was there for all to see. With twenty minutes of the match remaining, we grabbed our second goal of the night in which Mohamed Elneny and Fabio Vieira were involved again. The former nipped through the defence for the latter, and he threaded beautifully in behind for Eddie Nketiah to gather the ball, go around goalkeper Edward McGinty and slotted it into the empty net for our second of the night. Shortly afterwards, Emile Smith-Rowe replaced an injured Bukayo Saka, to much applause by our supporters. The 22-year-old midfielder has not played since the Manchester United match on 4th September, and it is mighty good to see him return. A minute or so later, Gabriel Martinelli played a really neat ball through for Eddie Nketiah, who just timed his run to perfection, and he simply nicked the ball over Edward McGinty as he came out of his goal to confront the Arsenal man, to score our third goal of the night. We nearly scored another one a minute or so later when Emile Smith-Rowe, who found himself one-on-one at the back post, but his poor first touch was deflected behind for a corner. With eight minutes of the match remaining, Ben White and Marquinhos replaced Takehiro Tomiyasu and Fabio Vieira. The home side started to create one or two chances towards the end of the game, but their chances did not amount to much, really. Oleksandr Zinchenko had an opportunity to score on the ninetieth minute, but his shot went wildly over the bar, and in the two minutes injury time, the match went rather flat, and when the referee brought matters to an end, it was more of a sense of relief for all, really. 

Despite a sluggish and lacklustre first half, our class showed in the second half, and the nature of our goals and the scoreline reflected that. Eddie Nketiah, Mohamed Elneny and Fabio Vieira played exceptionally well, and it was good to see Emile Smith-Rowe’s comeback go through without a hitch. Manchester City lie in wait for us in the fourth round, but before that, there is the small matter of the North London derby on Sunday afternoon against our “friends” from N17. Exciting times ahead!

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Tottenham Hotspur at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, 15th January at 4.30pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon