For our Manchester City vs. Arsenal prediction, we're going for a 2-0 win for the home side.
The Premier League's top two sides square off for the first time this season on Friday night as Manchester City welcome Arsenal to the Etihad Stadium in a mouthwatering FA Cup clash.
It's somewhat uncommon for the league's two main title challengers to mark their first head-to-head meeting of the campaign in the FA Cup in late January, but an early season postponement means these sides will lock horns twice in the space of four matches with this meeting acting as the curtain raiser to what should be a thrilling eventual trilogy from here through to April.
City enter this encounter as the favourites, largely by virtue of both a deeper squad and home advantage, despite arguably being in worse form than their opponents.
City have been undeniably short of their own astronomical standards this season, so much so that Pep Guardiola felt compelled to make a scathing public review of his side's season in a four minute post-match interview following the 4-2 win over Tottenham last time out.
It's rare that Guardiola stoops to these levels and there was an air of desperation surrounding his actions, as he senses the now imminent threat of Arsenal pulling too far clear atop the league table. Regardless, his words seem to have provoked a response with City following up that game with a cruising 3-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers last time out.
There are additional reports that there was an internal postmortem of City's season amongst the squad in the Old Trafford dressing room following the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United, with each individual player given the opportunity to voice their concerns vis-à-vis this season's struggles.
The limited evidence we have so far suggests the screw is beginning to turn with performance levels clearly rising by a notch or two, but they've still a way to go and it remains to be seen how they will account for the absence of dynamic 1v1 profiles in the wide areas. It wouldn't be the first time Pep Guardiola has inspired a mid season transformation of his side, mind, and Mikel Arteta and Arsenal will be more than wary.
City can also be rather encouraged by their recent home form heading into this game having won four and drawn one of their last five matches in all competitions.
This game could prove to be a huge one in terms of its mental consequences and is arguably a bigger game for City given they probably have more to prove, mostly to themselves, at this stage. They'll be confident, but it will be a slog.
Arsenal enter this game with a five point lead at the top of the Premier League table and are playing some of the most scintillating football the club has seen since Arsene Wenger's heyday.
They're coming into this game having won six and drawn one of their last seven matches in all competition, with their most recent game a thrilling 3-2 win over Manchester United at the Emirates.
Despite the closeness of the scoreline, the one goal discrepancy belied the dynamic of a game that Arsenal dominated both tactically and technically, with Bukayo Saka wreaking havoc down the right flank and the likes of Granit Xhaka, Martin Odegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko proving overwhelming for United's subpar midfield.
Mikel Arteta will also be thrilled by Eddie Nketiah's brace, with the former England U21 man proving an invaluable replacement for Gabriel Jesus following an injury that was initially considered a potent threat to The Gunners' title chances.
Arsenal feel inevitable at the moment and while the FA Cup is likely 3rd in their list of priority trophies it's still a competition they'll be looking to win. The result here is going to be lineup dependent, and with Arsenal expected to make a host of changes it's fair to expect a Manchester City win here.