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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Joe Bray & Tyrone Marshall & Daniel Murphy

How Man City should line up vs Arsenal FC in FA Cup fourth round clash

Manchester City have a huge opportunity to hit back at Premier League title rivals Arsenal on Friday night.

Though the match is actually taking place in the FA Cup fourth round, it will be the first time the two favourites to win the league have faced off this season after their first scheduled meeting was postponed following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. So Friday provides City with a chance to deal a psychological blow to the table-topping Gunners ahead of their upcoming encounters.

A win would also see the Blues advance in the FA Cup, something Pep Guardiola is keen on doing after he stressed how important the game is. "It's a different competition, it's a final. It's more than Arsenal to prove ourselves to how is our level against... a team with 50 points in one leg is the best," he said. "We have to prove how far away or how close we are. The best way is to perform our best level, otherwise it will be difficult."

ALSO READ: Julian Alvarez helps Man City plan for new signing Maximo Perrone

Guardiola also provided an update on the fitness of Phil Foden, who is the only player on the City injury list after missing the victory over Wolves. He added: "He's getting better. We train this afternoon. Everyone else is good."

Here's how MEN Sport's writers believe City should line up for the fixture and you can select your own team in the widget below.

Joe Bray

Normally in a cup game at this stage of the season you'd play a rotated side, but with Arsenal coming and some more senior players out of favour, City could look quite strong tonight. The back four of Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and Joao Cancelo is arguably City's strongest - although both full-backs are firmly out of favour and Dias has only played one minute since the World Cup due to injury.

The temptation would be to start Kalvin Phillips. Given his performance vs Southampton, though, and the strength of Arsenal's midfield, I'd keep Rodri in knowing there are nine days until City's next fixture. Kevin De Bruyne can get a rest, with Bernardo Silva needing a chance to regain his place.

In attack, Julian Alvarez should be starting in the cup, and he can rotate with Bernardo between playing out wide or pushing up behind Erling Haaland. Riyad Mahrez is in undroppable form, so Jack Grealish would be the unfortunate one to drop out. If there are any doubts over Foden, he shouldn't be risked.

Tyrone Marshall

City haven't played since Sunday and don't play again until next Sunday, so there is no need for too much rotation in what is a big game both for reaching the fifth round of the FA Cup and laying down a marker against Arsenal.

That means a start for Ederson in goal and I would be tempted to try and unleash the big guns at full-back again, playing Walker and Cancelo in a game they will be desperate to prove a point in. John Stones and Laporte can partner each other at the back.

One change worth making might be a start for Phillips, who really needs the minutes and the experience if he is to be relied upon later in the season when the stakes are higher. De Bruyne is a certain starter and Bernardo is a big-game player.

Haaland can lead the line but Alvarez deserves another start in the front three, with the in-form Mahrez also handed a place in the starting XI.

Daniel Murphy

As Guardiola aptly put it, this game is a final and it's vital that City are victorious. With that in mind, the manager should name as strong a team as he can against Arsenal, especially when there is a nine-day break until the next game.

I would keep Ederson between the sticks and Rico Lewis and Nathan Ake should also keep their spots at full-back. It would be good to see Dias come back in for his first start since before the World Cup alongside Stones.

Elsewhere, it should be as you were, the in-form Haaland, Mahrez and Grealish in attack - even if Foden is fit - with De Bruyne, Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan in the middle of the park.

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