Arsenal went on the road to Oxford in the FA Cup to continue its hot form. Goals from Mohamed Elneny and Eddie Nketiah allowed Mikel Arteta’s side to advance to the FA Cup Fourth Round. This is already a better result than what the Gunners did in 2021/22. Last time around, Nottingham Forest defeated Arsenal in the Third Round.
However, that was a different Arsenal team. In both league play and cup action, Arsenal seem to be hitting on all fronts both offensively and defensively. Even though Arteta deployed a lineup that differs from his traditional starting XI, each player performed well.
On the attack, Eddie Nketiah grabbed a brace. Both goals, one-on-ones with Oxford goalkeeper Edward McGinty, showed Nketiah’s patience in front of goal. On one, he dribbled around McGinty before passing into the net. On the other, he dinked it past the goalkeeper for Arsenal’s third. Nketiah is on decent form since the World Cup return. He started each of Arsenal’s four games including this one at Oxford. He now has four goals in those games.
Second-half flurry pushes Arsenal past Oxford FA Cup
While Nketiah’s goals steal the headlines, Arsenal ran through its midfield. The opener came from Mohamed Elneny, an unlikely goalscorer, off a set piece. Fabio Vieira whipped the ball into the box with his left foot. Both Elneny and Takehiro Tomiyasu made an attempt on the ball. Yet, the Egyptian just stuck his head out a little farther.
Fabio Vieira picked up his second assist as he slotted through Nketiah on Arsenal’s second. The Portuguese was making just his 10th start on the season after moving over from Porto in the summer for around $35 million.
He, along with Elneny and Albert Sambi-Lokonga, represented the ‘cup’ midfield. Sambi-Lokonga and Vieira featured frequently in the Europa League group stage, but have seen scarce action in league play where Arsenal continues to thrive. While that middle three would always be favored against League One side Oxford, they had minimal missteps in this game.
Arsenal’s defense, featuring American Matt Turner in goal, did not yield any considerable chances to Oxford. In the second half, Arsenal shut down the game. Arteta even experimented with Oleksandr Zinchenko in a midfield role, something he does often with the Ukraine National Team.
Mega clash in FA Cup Fourth Round
The reward Arsenal earned by defeating Oxford is a trip to the Etihad to take on Manchester City. The two clubs at the top of the table are yet to play this year. Their game early on in the campaign got bumped back due to Arsenal making up a Europa league fixture.
Therefore, this FA Cup tie is the first time fans get to see league-leading Arsenal take on league favorites Manchester City. Even though that game is not until January 28, those two sides look set to continue their fine form.
The only concern would be for Bukayo Saka. The young English winger left the game early with an injury. He was able to walk off under his own power.
PHOTO: IMAGO / News Images
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