Chris Sutton explains his Man City v Arsenal FA Cup prediction
Chris Sutton looks ahead to Arsenal's crunch FA Cup clash against Man City at The Etihad on Friday night
Chris Sutton is backing Manchester City to book their spot in the fifth round of the FA Cup thanks to a 2-1 victory over Arsenal at The Etihad on Friday night.
The fourth-round clash is something of a dress rehearsal for the Premier League meeting between the two sides at The Emirates in mid-February, with Arsenal currently leading City at the top of the table by five points with a game in hand.
The Gunners head into the game on the back of their impressive 3-2 win over Manchester United at The Emirates last Sunday after Manchester City had beaten Wolves 3-0 earlier in the day.
Mikel Arteta’s side have won four of their last five games in the Premier League and will be hoping to carry that momentum into Friday night’s showdown – but former Chelsea FC star Sutton feels that Pep Guardiola’s hosts will edge the contest.
Writing in his column for BBC Sport, Sutton said: “This is a brilliant tie to get the fourth round started and it is going to be interesting to see how both managers approach it, because they meet again in the Premier League in the middle of February.
“City boss Pep Guardiola always selects strong teams in the domestic cups, but we don’t know how big Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will go, given his side’s position at the top of the table.
“The FA Cup clearly won’t be Arteta’s priority, but his side have got so much momentum at the moment while City are still not at their fluid best.
“I am sure it will be all smiles between the pair of them beforehand, because Arteta was one of Guardiola’s assistants at City before taking the Gunners job, but this is going to be a fiercely fought contest – which I think City will edge.”
Arteta, who was previously Guardiola’s assistant coach at Manchester City, insists that Arsenal’s position as the Citizens’ main challenger for the title this season will not affect his relationship with his former boss.
Speaking at his pre-match news conference this week, the Arsenal manager underlined the important role Guardiola has played in helping to shape his career as a coach.
Asked if his relationship with Guardiola has changed now that Arsenal are fighting for the title, Arteta replied: “I always hoped that [a title challenge] was going to be the case one day, and it’s happening this season but that’s not going to change any friendship or the moments that we have, how important he is in my life or how important he is in my profession.
“We are both willing to win and defend our clubs in the best possible way, and that has always been the case since day one.”
Gunners striker Eddie Nketiah has been earning praise for his solid performances for the north London side since having been brought into the team following the injury to Gabriel Jesus.
The 23-year-old forward has netted seven goals in his last seven appearances for the Gunners and is currently the club’s top scorer this season with nine strikes to his name.
Asked whether the forward can maintain his current form, Arteta replied: “That’s the challenge we all have, not only Eddie, to be not at that level but at a better level every single day.
“Eddie has been very consistent and I think he has surprised a few people with how he responded to the huge challenge and demands he had after Gabriel [Jesus] got injured. We are positive he can get much better, evolve and still continue to develop.”