Manchester City fans are convinced Joao Cancelo is leaving the club this summer after he was named on the bench for the side’s FA Cup clash with Arsenal. Pep Guardiola’s side host the Gunners at the Etihad Stadium tonight (January 27).
Guardiola has named a strong lineup for the encounter with Mikel Arteta’s men. He has selected Stefan Ortega in goal, with the German becoming their cup goalkeeper throughout this season.
Meanwhile, Rico Lewis, Manuel Akanji, John Stones, and Nathan Ake are in defense. Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne, and Ilkay Gundogan are in midfield. Erling Haaland leads the frontline alongside Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish.
However, Guardiola’s decision to select Cancelo on the bench has led to speculation over the Portuguese defender’s future. He has fallen down the pecking order since the FIFA World Cup break. 18-year-old Lewis has displaced him at right-back, with Ake moving to an unfamiliar left-back role.
Cancelo has reportedly also been garnering interest from Barcelona, with the player’s agent Jorge Mendes holding a good relationship with the Blaugrana. The fact that he doesn’t start against Arsenal hints at how Guardiola views him in his squad.
He was an integral part of the Manchester City side that lifted the Premier League last season, featuring 52 times across competitions, scoring three goals and contributing 10 assists. However, this season has been difficult for the Portuguese, though he has made 26 appearances, scoring two goals and providing five assists.
Here’s how Twitter is reacting to Cancelo’s latest snub as Manchester City meet Arsenal in the FA Cup:
Arsenal boss Arteta claims that his side still have work to do reach Manchester City’s level
Arsenal are flying high at the top of the Premier League table, holding a five-point lead over second-placed Manchester City. They also have a game in hand over their title rivals.
The Gunners’ impressive 3-2 win over Manchester United last weekend has led to many asserting that the north Londoners are favorites for the title. They will stop City from triumphing for a third consecutive season if they do achieve glory come the end of the campaign.
However, Arteta is adamant that his side are still to reach the Cityzens’ level. He was asked about his team being title favorites. The Spaniard responded (via the Guardian):
“It can be a perception. I know my team so well, I know where we are, I know why we are here and I know where we want to be and we are far from that. I know the levels of the other teams and one especially that has won in the last five or six years [City] and we are not there yet.”
A win over Manchester City tonight would lay a marker of Arsenal’s credentials to beat Guardiola’s men to the title. It also gives them the opportunity to add more silverware to their trophy cabinet by advancing to the fifth round.