Arsenal 2 Man City 0: Arteta outfoxes mentor Guardiola as Aubameyang double takes impressive Gunners to FA Cup final
WHAT an ungrateful man Mikel Arteta is.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola did everything right in the build-up to their reunion.
He spoke warmly of his former assistant and even made an appeal to the Arsenal board for the money to fund Arteta’s vision.
And then what happens?
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The apprentice turns the sorcerer’s wisdom against him and, thanks to two goals on the break by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, sends City home from Wembley defeated for the first time in 10 visits.
On the last occasion that Guardiola failed to triumph at the national stadium, Arteta was beside him in the City dugout.
The opponents in that FA Cup semi final in April 2017 were Arsenal, who went on to lift what turned out to be the last trophy of Arsene Wenger’s reign.
But Arteta’s Arsenal, as they had shown in their midweek victory against champions Liverpool, have learned how to withstand pressure. And to ride their luck, not least when VAR failed to award City a penalty with the score at 1-0.
More significantly, in Aubameyang they have a goalscorer capable of punishing City when the gears in the beautiful juggernaut are crunching.
The Arsenal skipper took only one of his three first-half chances, but it mattered not when he raced clear 20 minutes from the end to make it 2-0.
Oh ye of little faith. Before the game, some Arsenal fans seemed to believe the best-case scenario was defeat with dignity.
As opposed to the 3-0 defeat they had suffered to City in their first game of Project Restart, courtesy of David Luiz’s spectacular 25-minute cameo.
Their fears looked justified for a while. Arsenal’s back three became a back five as they were pinned in their own half and needed some last-gasp clearances to keep City at bay.
Inside 10 minutes Shkodran Mustafi, Dani Ceballos and goalkeeper Emi Martinez were shouting at each other after Mustafi had been robbed in his own penalty area by Raheem Sterling.
It was a surprise when the Gunners created the first big chance of the game.
Luiz demonstrated the passing and vision which had led a string of managers to forgive his defensive lapses, but Aubameyang, clean through, hit his shot straight at Ederson, who had come out quickly.
Now Arteta is one win away from kickstarting a new era for the Gunners with some silverware.
When he was by Guardiola’s side, the pair spent hours devising ways to break down teams who set out to frustrate City’s expensively-assembled array of attacking talent.
Most of the time, they were successful.
Even when City were under-par, as they certainly were yesterday evening, they usually found a way to win. And if they didn’t, the opposition did not have the ability to inflict defeat.
Arsenal: Martinez (7), Mustafi (8), Luiz (9), Tierney (9), Bellerin (7), Ceballos (8), Xhaka (8), Maitland-Niles (8), Pepe (8), Lacazette (7), Aubameyang (9)
Subs: Torreira (N/A), Willock (N/A)
Man City: Ederson (6), Walker (5), Garcia (6), Laporte (6), Mendy (5), Gundogan (6), D Silva (6), De Bruyne (7), Mahrez (5), Jesus (5), Sterling (5)
Subs: Rodri (6), Foden (6)
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