Nathan Ake explains how Man City responded to Pep Guardiola’s ‘little wake-up call’
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Nathan Ake feels Manchester City’s hard-fought FA Cup victory over Arsenal will count for little when the sides meet again next month.
The Dutch defender proved the unlikely matchwinner as City drew first blood in their trilogy of encounters with the Gunners in the coming months with a tight 1-0 success at the Etihad Stadium on Friday.
City’s triumph should give them a confidence boost as they seek to overturn Arsenal’s five-point advantage at the top of the Premier League but Ake has played down the idea it could have a psychological impact.
“I’m very happy with the goal and the win,” said Ake, who produced a composed finish in the 64th minute after substitute Julian Alvarez had struck the post for City. “We stayed strong and we won against a very good team.
“For us it is just good to our keep run going. We had two good games before and now this one does that.
“Obviously when we play them again in a couple of weeks it will be a totally different game, but it’s always good to win – especially against a team like this and it can only do us good.”
The sides face each other again at the Emirates Stadium on February 15.
It was City manager Pep Guardiola who chose the stronger side for the first meeting, making just two changes to opposite number Mikel Arteta’s six.
Yet, with a tight pressing game that forced City to play direct, Arsenal had the better chances in the first half with Takehiro Tomiyasu and Leandro Trossard both extending Stefan Ortega.
City responded in the second half and efficiently closed out the game after Ake steered the ball inside the far post after Jack Grealish regathered possession following Alvarez’s effort.
It was City’s second successive victory since Guardiola questioned his players’ hunger after they had needed to fight back from 2-0 down to see off Tottenham.
“Obviously he said it for a reason,” said Ake. “Maybe it did dip a bit but over the last few games we have shown we want to try, we want to compete and we did that again.
“We want to make sure we will keep fighting for everything. That’s the only thing we can do as a team and a club. We have to keep it going, not just now but for the whole season.
“We have had a little wake-up call and have to make sure this is it from here.”
Arsenal’s frustration was compounded by the loss of midfielder Thomas Partey through injury. The Ghanaian will be assessed in the coming days.
Arteta, who has now lost seven of his eight games against old mentor Guardiola, did not want to dwell on the result and is already looking forward to the next encounter.
“I think it will be a very different match from both sides, probably with different personnel as well,” he said.
“We tried to compete. We came here to win the game and unfortunately, we haven’t. The next match will hopefully be different.”
City will also need to check on John Stones after the defender was forced off late in the first half with a hamstring problem.
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