Nathan Ake’s goal gave Manchester City a hard-fought victory over Arsenal in the FA Cup | Pro IQRA News

Nathan Ake’s goal gave Manchester City a hard-fought victory over Arsenal in the FA Cup

 | Pro IQRA News

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Nathan Ake proved to be the unlikely match-winner as Manchester City beat rivals Arsenal 1-0 in a tense FA Cup fourth-round match on Friday.

The Dutch defender powered in a low shot in the 64th minute at the Etihad Stadium as City struck the first blow in a treble of encounters with Arsenal over the coming months.

Premier League leaders Arsenal enjoyed the best of the first half, with Takehiro Tomiyasu and Leandro Trossard making good saves from Stefan Ortega.

However, while much has been said about the growing touchline competition between City manager Pep Guardiola and his former assistant Mikel Arteta, for the seventh time in eight meetings the Old Master was ultimately the winner.

Perhaps aware that the victory may also have a psychological impact before next month’s league clash between the two teams, Guardiola went with a strong squad and made only two changes to six for Arteta.

However, Arsenal retained all their usual energy and, in a frantic start, seemed determined not to allow City to establish their usual early rhythm.

As a result, the hosts played more directly than usual with mixed results. There were some promising attacks, but Erling Haaland looked uncomfortable with the modified plan and despite plenty of touches the Norwegian had little impact.

Arsenal initially looked like the brighter team and Tommiyaso stung the relief of City’s second-choice goalkeeper Ortega with a ferocious strike in the fifth minute.

Trossard, in his first start for his new club, also forced a good save from the German after cutting into the area on the left.

City had a chance when Haaland chipped away at the ball after a foul by Rob Holding, but Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner met him just outside the area. The ball swerved in the air and Haaland equalized with an ambitious overhead kick attempt, but Tomiyasu comfortably cleared it away.

City’s best chance came in the first half when Kevin De Bruyne cut inside and curled his left foot just wide, but Arsenal came close again when Eddie Nketiah cut wide from a Trossard cross.

City suffered a blow just before half-time when defender John Stones was forced off with a hamstring injury, but they came back in the second half more determined to be in control.

De Bruyne started running through the middle more and passing became more graceful. The attack was further revived when Julian Alvarez came off the bench in the 58th minute.

The change paid off six minutes later when the World Cup winner smashed the base of the post with a powerful long-range shot and Jack Grealish sent Ake off the rebound. The Dutchman had the time and space and calmly put his shot just beyond Turner’s reach.

It proved to be a decisive blow and City closed out the game comfortably and efficiently with Arsenal failing to threaten again.