The green shoots of recovery were on show in our battling 2-1 win over Middlesbrough on Monday.
The performance was hardly fluid, but our desire to win the game was enough to see off a desperate Boro team, and this will hopefully be enough to remind our players of what they are capable of before we travel to Wembley for the Cup Semi against a dangerous City side.
This tie must be treated with the utmost of importance as the Cup is intrinsically linked to Arsenal. We have won it more than any other team – we are tied with United on 12 Cups – and this season has been so desolate in terms of high spots, we could really do with a Cup final to hold onto.
A lot of the talk on our win over Boro was Wenger’s apparent switch to a 3-man defence – and he will have to look at this option again as Shkodran Mustafi is again injured. David Ospina is still out along with Santi Cazorla, Danny Welbeck and Lucas Perez.
Pep Guardiola may just have young Brazilian saviour Gabriel Jesus back in the ranks after hsi rapid recovery from a broken bone in his foot. Sergio Aguero should again lead the line, but watch out for a possible cameo from the youngster. John Stones is still out, so Nicolas Otamendi will again partner recently fit Vincent Kompany.
There are some interesting stats to grasp onto that may give us all a strand of optimism. We have faced City four times in the FA Cup. The last time was in 1971, when we went on to win the Double. The last time we faced City at Wembley was in 2014, when we won the Charity Shield 3-0. So it may be in the stars. Let’s hope this run continues!
The league games this season have been tight affairs, with City winning the first 2-1 and the second game ended in a 2-2 draw. If we are to stand a chance in the face of City’s attacking talent, we will have to be at our best at the back, so a lot hinges on young Rob Holding – the kid has impressed in his first season but this is surely his biggest match to date.
Our club has made the most appearances in the Cup Semi-final, and a win here would really act as a salve for us Gooners, we really could do with something to cheer!
There is also the small matter of the game against Leicester City in midweek, so rotation will be key. Granit Xhaka will likely play, but who will partner him? Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was effective on the right against Boro, but he has also played well in the centre so The Ox is an option. Ramsey may well be first choice though, but with the games coming thick and fast, we will need every player. Theo Walcott missed out in our last game and he may well be utilised.
Both Managers need this for vastly different reasons, and players will want the chance for silverware. This game should not need more motivation for the players.
So, the stage is set. Let us hope we have a great game to watch, and the result matches the entertainment value.