Nathan Ake celebrates with teammates after scoring | Photo: AFP
London: Nathan Ake's remarkable goal gave Manchester City a 1-0 victory over Arsenal in the FA Cup's fourth round, to advance into the fifth round at the Etihad Stadium.
The win would have plausibly inflicted the Premier League leaders a psychological blow before their crucial matchup next month in the race for the Premier League title.
A strong City eleven failed to find a way through until defender Ake sent the ball into the bottom corner (64') of the goal after substitute Julian Alvarez had struck a post as Mikel Arteta prioritised Arsenal's title defence, resting key players with his side selection.
Leandro Trossard impressed in his first Arsenal start, and the game concluded with John Stones appearing to sustain a hamstring injury, but Guardiola didn't seem overly pleased with his team's first-half performance. But while the home team narrowly prevailed, City's head coach eventually defeated his old helper Arteta.
Following a shocking loss to Southampton in the Carabao Cup semifinals, City will now be the favourites to win the title and add another FA Cup victory to their already impressive tally of six, their second under Guardiola. The fifth round draw will take place on Monday, with matches beginning the week of February 27.
The next Premier League match between the two teams, on February 15 is crucial for the outcome of the 2022-23 championship, was made even more intriguing by this match, which was far from the exhilarating one Arsenal had with Manchester United, City's neighbours, last weekend.
Arsenal will be upset to have lost the cup, but they will be hoping that, at full strength, they can build on the positives of this performance to be the ones celebrating when these teams meet again in a few weeks.
Manchester City will play Tottenham in the Premier League matchup on Sunday, February 5.After that, Pep Guardiola's team will take a week off before facing Aston Villa on Sunday, February 12.
On February 4, Arsenal will travel to Everton for their next Premier League match. The Gunners then play Brentford on February 11 in a matchup between two London rivals.