After some of the most horrendous results, taming two of the most dominant teams in the English league is nothing but a dream. For some, it might sound like a miracle, but miracles don’t happen back-to-back. Rather, it requires some planning and determination to beat Liverpool and Manchester City in the same week.

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal is not the force, which once they were, but a unit trying hard to relive the glorious past. And for that, it requires the right amount of confidence to advance – surely confidence grows by beating the top teams.

In the semifinal of the FA Cup, Manchester City dictated the game better than the Gunners. They attacked, had better control over the ball, and pushed more, but when the matter is about exploiting the opportunities, Arsenal’s finish was much better and football is all about, which teams score more goals – that is where the game is decided.

Arsenal Stifled and Styfied City and slashed them into bits on the break – Pierre-Emerick  Aubameyang’s double strike dashed City’s press, but the credit must be given to the defensive solidity of the Gunners. Arsenal’s victory was built on a rock-solid defensive performance that denied City the space they need for their attack to produce results.

Arteta did not park the bus, but their defenders just knew when to push and press, when to retreat, when to move laterally and when to stay still. They knew where City’s passing lanes were and regularly stepped into them to cut balls out before they became a true danger.

City scripted crosses; the Arsenal backline devoured them and then shut down the deadly cut-backs, which produced many goals for Pep Guardiola.

The butt of a joke last month, David Luiz led from the front – constantly reading crosses and heading them clearly and then throwing his body into the way of shots to stop them and reduce the number of threats. One particular block from Raheem Sterling in the second-half was highly effective, which prevented a certain goal.

Shkodran Mustafi offered able assistance until he got injured.

Kieran Tierney was a revelation at left center-back.

Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos were instrumental in clogging the spaces in front of their defence.

Above all, Emiliano Martinez was like the Great Wall of China!

The backline was hard to breach for an attack-minded City side.

Then there was that supreme display of fluency – the first goal came at the end of a supreme 18-pass move that saw them shift the ball around the back amidst intense high pressing from City. Yet none of the defenders or even the goalkeeper looked nervous and the ball worked its way out slowly, first from left to right and then up one side, switched to another and it all ended with Aubameyang’s awesome finish.

A sublime goal and an indication, Arteta would produce more such moments in the coming days.


The City backline can be fragile on the break and with a solid defensive display their fluidity can be tamed – Zinedine Zidane should have noticed this last night.

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