Arsenal (+335) vs Manchester City (-117), Draw (+310)
The crucible has arrived in the 2016-17 FA Cup. Gone are lesser squads like Lincoln City and Millwall. All that remains is a quartet of the EPL’s best: Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, and Manchester City. This Sunday (April 23, 2017, 10:00 AM ET) the Gunners will face City at Wembley Stadium with the victor advancing to the final on May 27.
City and Arsenal are both out of contention for the league title, so the FA Cup is all they can hope to claim this season.
Arsenal are especially desperate for a trophy right now. Currently seven points back of fourth-place (a spot coincidentally occupied by Man City), the Gunners are expected to finish outside of the top four in the EPL for the first time in 20 seasons. Winning the FA Cup will not make up for missing out on a Champions League spot, but it will offer some consolation for a frustrated team and an even more frustrated fan-base.
Many Arsenal supporters continue to call for manager Arsene Wenger’s head. The embattled manager has done a lot of good over his 20-year tenure: his track record of getting to the UCL is phenomenal, and he’s collected six FA Cups throughout his time, most recently taking back-to-back trophies in 2014 and 2015. (Those wins moved the Gunners level with Manchester United for most all-time cups with 12.)
But he hasn’t delivered Arsenal a league title in 15 years and his team is in turmoil at the moment. They’ve only won two of their last five games, with losses to the likes of Crystal Palace and West Brom, and before beating Middlesbrough last week, they had lost their previous five away games.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City haven’t been spectacular either, but they’ve at least been relatively steady. They have just one loss (to league-leading Chelsea) in their last five fixtures, which also included meetings with Liverpool and Arsenal.
These two teams played to a 2-2 draw when they last met in early April. Man City were the slightly better team that day, but a draw was a fitting result. An early goal by Leroy Sane portended another blowout for Arsenal, but the Gunners responded well and met both City goals with one of their own.
But since their game against City, Arsenal have been mediocre at best. Even during their win against relegation-threatened Middlesbrough last week, they never appeared confident. Manchester City aren’t doing as well as they would have hoped, but they’re still within the top four and playing relatively well.
Everyone seems pretty doubtful of Arsenal at the moment, from the players to the fans to the bookmakers. I have to say, I’m pretty doubtful too, and I don’t see a lot of value on this side even at +335.
Pick: Manchester City (-117)