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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Josh O'Brien

Arsenal's XI for last FA Cup tie vs Man City highlights Mikel Arteta's ruthless overhaul

Mikel Arteta may have only been at the Arsenal helm for just over three years, but the Spaniard has overseen enough drama and controversy to last a lifetime.

The Gunners boss is now reaping the benefits of a complete overhaul of the Arsenal squad, though it must be said he hardly inherited many players worth building around. Therefore, it makes the fact that Arteta guided the club to FA Cup glory in his first season all the more remarkable.

Nothing about Arteta's first season as Arsenal boss was even close to normal, with all football coming to a standstill for three months in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was a cruel twist of fate that Arteta lifted his first trophy as a manager in an empty Wembley stadium.

En route to that moment, Arsenal toppled titans Manchester City in a meeting many regarded as a classic case of 'student meets the master' given Arteta was once an assistant to Pep Guardiola. The Gunners ran out 2-0 winners against City at the semi-final stage.

A lot has changed since that cup shock and ahead of the two teams meeting in the FA Cup for the first time since on Friday night, Mirror Football has taken a look back to see who lined up for Arsenal that day and how they have fared since.

A real headline-grabber nowadays, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez's career has gone from strength to strength since his Emirates exit.

Emiliano Martinez lined up between the sticks for Arsenal in their FA Cup win over Man City in 2020 ((Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images))

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After Arsenal kept faith with then-number one Bernd Leno despite Martinez's FA Cup heroics, the Argentine upped sticks to Aston Villa for a fee of around £20million. He is adored by the Villa Park faithful, but the most notable new development is of course how Martinez is now a World Cup winner with Argentina following their Qatar 2022 triumph.

The shot-stopper played a vital part in his nation's glorious campaign, though some of his conduct in the days of celebration that followed was called into question.

It was a back-five that looks a world away from the world-class defence Arsenal currently boast, with this one containing arguably one of the worst signings in recent Arsenal history in Shkodran Mustafi, who was never too far away from another calamitous moment.

However, up against City's plethora of star-studded attackers on this night back in June 2020, the Germany international dealt well with all that came his way, as did his fellow centre-back on the night David Luiz.

Both have since departed, with Mustafi terminating his Arsenal contract in February 2021 to join Schalke where things somehow went even worse, while Luiz returned to his home country of Brazil to see out the remainder of his playing days with Flamengo.

The third central defender, Kieran Tierney, is one of the few to remain an Arsenal player, though his game-time has been drastically reduced due to the arrival of a man who was sat on the City bench for this contest in Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz both lined up in the heart of the Arsenal defence ((Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images))

On either side of that often-suspect central defensive trio was Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Hector Bellerin. The former is technically still an Arsenal player, though has been on loan three separate times since this fixture at West Brom, Roma and Southampton currently.

As for Bellerin, the Spain international has since called time on his Arsenal career, initially spending the 2021/22 season on loan at boyhood club Real Betis before returning to where he spent his academy days in LaLiga giants Barcelona on a permanent basis.

Midfield stalwart Granit Xhaka remains a vital cog in Arteta's machine and still starts every game for the Gunners when fit - the only name in this line-up to do so. The same cannot be said for Dani Ceballos, who was only ever at the club on loan from Real Madrid.

This victory came in his first season, before Ceballos' loan was extended for a second campaign, which turned out to be one of the most disappointing in Arsenal's modern history and he subsequently returned to the Santiago Bernabeu to win a Champions League the following year.

Making up the front three was Arsenal's club-record signing Nicolas Pepe out on the right flank. The £72million-man even got the assist for the first goal, but Pepe has seriously failed to make the grade at Arsenal.

A few fleeting moments of brilliance have by no means justified his astronomical price tag and Pepe is now back in France on loan with Nice. The form of Bukayo Saka and Arteta's desperation to bring in a new right-sided attacker means the writing is on the wall for the Ivorian's Arsenal career.

On the left was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a man who was once adored by the Arsenal faithful and is now a figure of ridicule. The Gabon international scored a brace in this 2-0 win, before another brace in the final against his current club Chelsea.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has since damaged his relationship with the Arsenal faithful ((Photo by Justin Tallis/Pool via Getty Images))

Having fallen out with Arteta in late 2021, Aubameyang spent six months at Barcelona before returning to the Premier League with the Gunners' London rivals Chelsea - burning his Arsenal bridges in the process.

Leading the line for Arteta's men was Alexandre Lacazette, who never truly lived up to the level of expectation that greeted his arrival from Lyon in 2017.

Two years after this fixture, Lacazette returned to the Ligue 1 outfit after a particularly poor final campaign in an Arsenal shirt. The vacancy he left has since been filled by a forward who was also on the pitch that night in ex-City man Gabriel Jesus.

The fact that Xhaka is the only Arsenal player expected to line up for the club against City in this competition on Friday night is a testament to how ruthless Arteta can be and how far the Gunners have come

Arsenal XI against Man City in July 2020: Martinez; Bellerin, Luiz, Mustafi, Tierney, Maitland-Niles; Ceballos, Xhaka; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang

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