Following their win over Liverpool at the Emirates, it’s unclear whether the league or FA Cup represents Arsenal’s best chance at European football next season.
They look to be heading in the right direction since a switch to a back three, going W5-D1-L1 from late June onwards, while they were highly unfortunate not to walk away with more from the draw with Leicester and a defeat at North London rivals Spurs.
Mikel Arteta has understandably come to the conclusion that the extra man at the back is necessary to paper over his squad’s defensive deficiencies, with David Luiz benefiting by playing in the system where he enjoyed his best spell at Chelsea under Antonio Conte.
That should ensure there’s no repeat of the 3-0 hiding they suffered at the Etihad on the restart, with that remaining Arsenal’s sole defeat by more than a single strike in 24 games under current management.
The Gunners are actually a competitive W4-D3-L3 when facing the teams currently above them in the table since Arteta arrived, with two of those defeats coming on the road.
Although this game will take place at Wembley, it’s not as though Arsenal will have far to travel and the size and quality of the pitch will be similar to home comforts.
They’ve now recorded seven wins from their last nine unbeaten home domestic games, accompanied by five clean sheets, though given four of the shutouts came against Leeds, Newcastle, West Ham and Norwich, we wouldn’t bank on another here.
Both Teams To Score
Pep Guardiola’s outfit are certainly capable of racking up big scores and have actually netted exactly three times in six of their last seven encounters with Arsenal.
Meanwhile, that attacking prowess was demonstrated in recent 5-0 wins over Newcastle and Brighton, as well as the 4-0 punishment dished out to Liverpool.
Despite this though, it’s worth noting that Bournemouth – who are hardly known for their defensive qualities – managed to limit them to just the two goals last time out, while popping off 14 shots of their own down the other end.
Arsenal +1.5 Asian Handicap
In fact, away from home, City have scored more than twice in just one of 11 fixtures, while they scored just once or less in seven of these.
At the back they possess just six clean sheets in 21 matches away from the Etihad since the start of November, so if they are to be gotten at it’s far more likely to happen on the road.
Indeed, seven of their 10 defeats this season have come on their travels, including all four losses since February at Spurs, Man Utd, Chelsea and Southampton.
Pep Guardiola’s outfit hold a noticeably weaker record this term when facing their strongest opposition domestically, going W9-D2-L8 over 90 minutes against the top nine in the table.
Given City’s performances against the top sides compared to Arsenal’s under Arteta, the Gunners appear worth siding with on the handicap.
Further, both teams to score also looks an attractive proposition with these two sides each excelling at the sharp end of the pitch.
In fact, both teams have found the net in 10 of 12 FA Cup semi-finals since 2014, as the two exceptions saw bigger mismatches (Chelsea v Southampton and Man City v Brighton) with the stronger side keeping clean sheets.