Mikel Arteta spoke of his respect and admiration for Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, whose advice he still seeks regularly.

Arteta worked under the tutelage of Guardiola as his assistant from July 2016 until departing to replace Unai Emery as Arsenal head coach last December.

Earlier this month, Arteta had an unhappy return to the Etihad Stadium as the Gunners were beaten 3-0 by City when the Premier League returned from its coronavirus hiatus.

He has a chance to avenge that defeat before the end of the campaign after the teams were drawn to face one another in the FA Cup semi-finals, with Arsenal overcoming Sheffield United and City defeating Newcastle United to make the last four.

Arteta recognises the challenge Arsenal face but acknowledges to win the biggest prizes Arsenal have to overcome the best teams.

"We have spoken a few times in recent weeks. Facing them again in the semi-final is a tricky one but look at the level of the teams who are involved in the competition," Arteta said. 

"If you want to win the title, you have to beat the best teams and if we want to do that we have to beat City."

Arteta may no longer work under Guardiola but says he is still able to seek his counsel.

"Yeah, he's a person that I have huge respect and admiration [for] and we talk about a lot of things," he added. 

"When I need advice or I want him to support me he's always there and willing to help me. For me it's great to have someone like him around."

Since leaving City for Arsenal, Arteta has sought to blood the youngsters within his squad.

Bukayo Saka has particularly flourished under Arteta, while big things are expected of academy prospect Folarin Balogun.

Both youngsters are out of contract in June 2021, with Saka linked to the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool, while Southampton are said to be monitoring Balogun's situation.

But Arteta is confident of tying both players down to long-term contracts.

"I am not worried because I know that the club is doing their best to try to keep them," he added. 

"Hopefully we can have some good news about them very soon. They know my opinion on them and how much I like working with them, the intention that I have in the future with them. 

"I see them really committed and hopefully we can find the right agreement for both parties and move on, because I think there's a great future ahead of us with these kids."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to see Manchester United go through the rest of the season unbeaten.

United are on a 14-match unbeaten run as they chase a top-four finish in the Premier League and remain alive in the Europa League and FA Cup.

Solskjaer's men, who are sixth in the Premier League, will face Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals, while they are on track to reach the Europa League last eight.

And the United manager is challenging his side to go through the rest of the season without being beaten.

"Any Manchester United team should go into any game against any opposition believing they can win that game," Solskjaer told UK media.

"The short answer [if they can go unbeaten] is yes, but the long answer is that there's more to it than that. Of course, different things can play a part in this run, but we hope to extend it and want it for as long as possible.

"We're just going to take one game at a time. We know there's games every two or three days. We need a squad, everyone needs to play a part and we're delighted with the way things are going at the moment."

Sitting five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, United's bid for a top-four Premier League finish continues on Tuesday when they visit Brighton and Hove Albion.

They have been boosted by strong seasons from Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, who each have 14 league goals this campaign, and an improving Mason Greenwood (five).

Solskjaer wants greater depth at Old Trafford, saying: "You need competition for places at Man United.

"If you think you've got a divine right to be playing every game and are doing so well that we're not going to look for players to replace you, you're in the wrong place."

Kevin De Bruyne has been backed to solve Manchester City's penalties problem after his spot-kick helped Pep Guardiola's team sink Newcastle United.

The Belgian drove home a first-half penalty, with Raheem Sterling wrapping up a 2-0 victory in the FA Cup quarter-finals when he fired home from outside the box in the second half.

City saw their reign as Premier League champions ended by Liverpool, and a poor spot-kick record did not help their cause, with Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan all failing from 12 yards this season.

De Bruyne showed precision with the penalty that gave City a memorable 2-1 at Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie back in February.

He was again entrusted with the job at St James' Park, sweeping the ball beyond Karl Darlow.

When asked about De Bruyne's penalty prowess, Guardiola said: "Hopefully he can maintain his level because we struggled without him this season. I think we've missed five or six penalties. Much too much.

"With different takers, we've struggled a lot. I remember many games where we dropped points and now Kevin takes the responsibility.

"We've scored three or four since we came back. It's important for us to have his confident personality and to try and continue to score those."

De Bruyne converted a penalty against Arsenal in City's first game back after the coronavirus stoppage, with Riyad Mahrez netting a spot-kick in the 5-0 win over Burnley.

Mahrez took responsibility that time as De Bruyne was a substitute, but when the former Wolfsburg player is involved, which will be in most if not all of City's crunch fixtures, the duty will be his.

Guardiola wants City to be faultless across all departments over the closing weeks of the season; despite Liverpool being confirmed as Premier League champions they still have a potential treble on the cards, having already won the EFL Cup.

An FA Cup semi-final against former Mikel Arteta's Arsenal awaits, while City will hope to go further in the Champions League. The second leg of the Madrid tie will be played on August 7 or 8, UEFA recently announced.

"We have spoken [with the players] after what happened in the Premier League," Guardiola said.

"We need two more victories to qualify for the [2020-21] Champions League mathematically and after lockdown, we said that two competitions are still on course.

"Now we make the first step, a semi-final and it will be good. It will be good to arrive for Madrid in the best physical condition to play these kinds of games. To reach the [FA Cup] final will be the best preparation, to win the title and to prepare [for the game] against Madrid."

Newcastle United were knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester City on Sunday, but Steve Bruce clearly liked what he saw.

Kevin De Bruyne was typically influential in City's dominant 2-0 win at St James' Park, opening the scoring from the penalty spot in the first half after Fabian Schar's foul on Gabriel Jesus.

That goal set the holders on their way to a quarter-final victory that Raheem Sterling wrapped up after Dwight Gayle improbably missed a chance to equalise from point-blank range.

So taken was former Manchester United captain Bruce by the performance of De Bruyne, who also scored a wondergoal for City in their Premier League meeting with the Magpies in November, he joked Newcastle would be signing the Belgium superstar.

Interrupting De Bruyne's post-match interview with City's club media, Newcastle boss Bruce grabbed a grinning De Bruyne and told the reporter: "He's going to stay here.

"He's going to stay here, come here - that's an exclusive out of Newcastle tonight. He's had enough of Manchester City and he's going to come and play for Newcastle."

Bruce was able to confirm the arrival of one new signing post-match: former Motherwell goalkeeper Mark Gillespie on a free transfer.

With restaurants and bars shut, Manchester City did the best they could to mark Kevin De Bruyne's 29th birthday: they enjoyed a stroll in the park.

Presumably De Bruyne was presented with a king-sized sweet treat too, because City must be wise after Yaya Toure and cake-gate when plotting their star midfielders' celebration days.

There are more inviting, leafier parks in the north of England than Newcastle United's St James', but De Bruyne had a rum time with his chums.

The locals even presented him a gift, a first-half penalty after Fabian Schar foolishly pushed Gabriel Jesus in the back.

City's park strollers might have been surprised by whom they found waiting for them in the city centre park: mostly young 'uns who ran about skittishly, with vague purpose, at one end of the field, and a big lad with a funny beard who mainly stayed away from the others, taking social distancing to the extreme.

Naturally, City ran rings around them, on a day when their pink and yellow outfits against the locals' black and white made it look like a sweet-shop colour clash of fruit salads and humbugs.

And bah humbug for Newcastle, who never looked as though they could be competitive, certainly not until manager Steve Bruce saw sense after 64 minutes and realised big Andy Carroll was not the man to get them back into this FA Cup tie, turning to substitute Dwight Gayle.

Gayle, within two minutes of coming off the bench, showed he too was not the man to rescue the hosts, as he shovelled over a sitter from six yards after Allan Saint-Maximin fizzed a low cross his way.

Two minutes later and Raheem Sterling added the second goal City wanted to make the rest of their afternoon as much as a saunter as the first half had been. That made it 2-0: job done.

It was all too easy for City, while Newcastle were spectacularly low on ambition, most notably by picking Carroll, a player who has not scored a competitive goal all season and who indeed had not started a game since December, and giving him no service.

In the quarter-finals last year, Swansea made life desperately uncomfortable for City, to such an extent Pep Guardiola felt compelled to apologise after his team scraped a 3-2 win in south Wales.

City, on that occasion, came from 2-0 down to prevail 3-2, helped by a questionable penalty and an offside winner from Sergio Aguero.

But whatever the instructions Bruce fed his Newcastle side, the effect they had was allowing City to attack with impunity, raining in eight shots in the first 19 minutes.

A full St James', rather than this empty-seats version, would have surely been raging at Newcastle's plodding ways, particularly in the first half, when it took desperate defending to keep the score down.

Sterling's strike was a soother for City, and so Guardiola allowed De Bruyne to sit out the rest of the game, substituting the Belgian jewel in City's crown, the end of this cakewalk in sight.

Pep Guardiola acknowledged his Manchester City side is bound to show more focus in their quest for FA Cup and Champions League glory after seeing the defence of their Premier League title officially ended.

City's 2-1 loss to Chelsea on Thursday saw Liverpool crowned champions but they were in fine form during a 2-0 victory at Newcastle United in Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final.

Kevin De Bruyne celebrated his 29th birthday by scoring a first-half penalty before Raheem Sterling put the finishing touch on a routine win after the break to book a last-four showdown with Arsenal.

It remains possible for City to complete an EFL Cup, FA Cup and Champions League treble this term, with Guardiola saying it is understandable his players' attentions are now on a return to Wembley as well as the last-16 return leg against Real Madrid in Europe's premier competition – a tie in which they lead 2-1.

"After the defeat in London against Chelsea, of course now in the Premier League we're struggling a little bit to focus," said Guardiola.

"We're playing for qualification to the Champions League, it's not done but we're close, we need two victories.

"But, of course, now the FA Cup and Champions League it's a little bit different for the fact we're playing at Wembley again, we were winners last season, we are in the semis again and that's so, so good. Then we prepare for the end of the season against Madrid."

On the game, Guardiola added: "First we are in the semi-final, it was not easy to attack against defenders so, so deep.

"It was a solid performance, we conceded few [chances]and we are happy to be going back to London to Wembley."

De Bruyne has become the designated penalty taker after City experienced a string of spot-kick woes this season.

The brilliant Belgium playmaker says it is a responsibility he is happy to shoulder.

"We had a few problems this year and I think the gaffer asked me to step up against Madrid," he said. 

"I've scored a couple now. If I'm the taker now I will try. Obviously there will be a day I miss, you have to take your responsibility, it if it's in it's good."

Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling were on target as holders Manchester City coasted into the FA Cup semi-finals with a 2-0 win at Newcastle United.

A 2-1 reverse at Chelsea on Thursday officially ended City's reign as Premier League champions and Pep Guardiola's men looked out to make a statement from the off at St James' Park.

De Bruyne, who turned 29 on Sunday, coolly slotted home a 37th-minute penalty in what was scant reward for a dominant first-half showing.

Sterling then added a fine second 22 minutes from time as City booked a last-four date with Arsenal at Wembley.

Riyad Mahrez blazed one over and bent another effort wide of the right post from 20 yards as City threatened early.

Karl Darlow twice denied Sterling in a match that was fast becoming an attack-versus-defence training drill.

It took a silly push from Fabian Schar on Gabriel Jesus to break Newcastle down, though, with De Bruyne rolling the resulting penalty into the bottom-left corner.

Aymeric Laporte headed narrowly wide just before half-time and Mahrez flashed another chance just over shortly following the restart.

Newcastle should have been level when Allan Saint-Maximin laid one on a plate for substitute Dwight Gayle, who astonishingly skied over from six yards with the goal gaping.

City immediately made them pay. Sterling drove at the Newcastle defence and cut inside before curling a cute finish into the bottom-right corner from 20 yards.

 

What does it mean? City's treble dream intact

The Premier League trophy may be about to reside in Liverpool's trophy cabinet for the first time but City are still in the hunt for an EFL Cup, FA Cup and Champions League treble. They seldom had to get out of first gear here.

Sterling and Mahrez torment Magpies defence

Steve Bruce's game-plan was clear – play deep, keep it compact and hit on the counter. The only problem is such a tactic allowed Sterling – who scored his first goal from outside the box since November 2018 – and Mahrez ample opportunity to attack and both men were a constant threat. 

That Schar was silly, Fabian…

Newcastle were unimaginative but defensively stubborn until Schar had two goes at pushing Jesus to ground. It was a real head-scratcher of a decision from the centre-back, one that ended the hosts' resilience. 

What's next?

City face Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals but are next set to give Liverpool a guard of honour when the new champions visit the Etihad Stadium on Thursday, a day after Newcastle make the mammoth trip to Bournemouth.

Frank Lampard has no concerns over Chelsea's young players, despite conceding his side were far below their best against Leicester City.

Ross Barkley came on from the bench to score in the 63rd minute on Sunday, securing a 1-0 victory to send Chelsea through to the FA Cup semi-finals, with Manchester United up next on July 18 or 19.

However, Lampard's side were second best in the first half, with the Blues boss making three changes at half-time – Barkley being one of the alterations. 

Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour and Reece James were the players to make way, but Lampard insists he has full confidence in the young trio.

"The first half wasn't what we're used to in terms of performance this season," Lampard, who took advantage of the temporary rule allowing five substitutions, told a news conference.

"We seriously lacked urgency and intensity in the first half, so the three subs... I probably could have made more subs or different subs.

"Of course, if we didn't have the extra subs, I wouldn't make the three at half-time, but the reason the subs are here is because they are trying to prevent injury and understand that the players have missed a proper pre-season.

"We can probably look at that we had three big games in a week, a very difficult game on Thursday, so I'll allow us a bit of credit, and the fact they showed enough to turn it around against good opposition.

"I don't think we have played that badly this season in 45 minutes; we played a lot better and lost games. So when it looks like I'm criticising, I'm actually positive that it's not the norm for us but it felt like it had to be addressed.

"I could've made different changes as well. In Mason's situation, he played two games in a week and gave a lot of input against Man City. Reece James hasn't played in a long time since going into lockdown and Billy's the same, so there are contributing factors around it.

"They are going to be top players, they will have top careers in football - that's the players they are - so whether you can call it a learning experience, I did do that.

"They are all good lads, they train well and I've never had a problem with them at all, so I've got no worries."

One player who did draw Lampard's praise was goalscorer Barkley, who has looked sharp since the resumption of the campaign.

"I played with Ross and I know he's a great lad. He wants to be the best player he can be and has a great attitude," Lampard added.

"Before lockdown, he put in some really good performances for us, his attitude has been spot on in training, he looked after himself in lockdown, and he was unfortunate not to start against Aston Villa. Since then, he's made an impact in every match he's played.

"I've got lots of time for Ross. He's a big player for us - you saw that today and in the last three games."

Manchester United will take on Chelsea as Arsenal face Newcastle United or holders Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals.

With five Premier League teams remaining in the hat, the draw took place at half-time during City's clash with Newcastle at St James' Park – Pep Guardiola's side having taken a 1-0 lead into the interval thanks to Kevin De Bruyne's penalty.

United - who needed extra-time to see off Norwich City on Saturday, with Harry Maguire scoring late in a 2-1 win - were drawn first and will go up against Frank Lampard's side, who defeated Leicester City 1-0 on Sunday.

It is a repeat of the 2017-18 FA Cup final, which Chelsea won 1-0 under Antonio Conte.

Arsenal required a stoppage-time effort from Dani Ceballos to book their place in the last four, with the Gunners' winner against Sheffield United coming just four minutes after David McGoldrick had struck a late equaliser.

The semi-final ties will be played behind closed doors at Wembley Stadium on July 18 and 19, with the final scheduled for August 1.

Ross Barkley came off the bench to secure Chelsea a 1-0 victory at Leicester City and take Frank Lampard's side into the FA Cup semi-finals.

Lampard made three substitutions after an underwhelming first-half display and they changed the game for the Blues, with Barkley – one of those introduced – getting the decisive goal.

Leicester looked the better side in the opening period and appeared to have greater control of proceedings, though their final pass did not match up to promising build-up play.

Chelsea produced a marked improvement in the second half after Lampard tinkered with his team and Barkley ended the deadlock with a smart finish in the 63rd minute, earning his team a place alongside Manchester United and Arsenal in the last four.

Chelsea were guilty of a sloppy start, but Leicester lacked ruthlessness and did not call Willy Caballero into action until the 20th minute when Youri Tielemans saw his 20-yard effort turned wide.

Lampard's men had another couple of escapes soon after, as Harvey Barnes blazed high and wide before Jonny Evans failed to direct a free header on target from a free-kick.

But Leicester had to rely on Kasper Schmeichel to avoid going behind in the 30th minute, the Danish goalkeeper producing a fine reaction save to deny Christian Pulisic.

A seemingly unimpressed Lampard made three alterations at half-time and it led to an improvement – Tammy Abraham finding the net in the 55th minute, only for celebrations to be cut short by an offside flag.

A Ben Chilwell cross hit the crossbar at the other end, but that was a momentary lapse in Chelsea's second-half domination and they deservedly went ahead just past the hour – half-time substitute Barkley expertly turning in Willian's low cross.

The Blues should have finished Leicester off on the break in the 89th minute, but Barkley's initial pass to Ruben Loftus-Cheek was poor and when the ball was returned to him the former Everton midfielder's shot was saved in unorthodox fashion by Schmeichel.

It had no impact on the result, however, as Chelsea head to Wembley.

 

What does it mean? Chelsea's depth serves them well

Few would have taken issue with Lampard's starting XI. After all, the three players taken off at half-time – Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour and Reece James – are all fine prospects.

However, when it was not working out, Lampard was able to turn to the likes of Barkley and Mateo Kovacic on the bench, and both were very bright after coming on.

Where there's a Willian, there's a way

His days at Stamford Bridge may be limited, but Willian proved that he certainly still has his uses. Not only did he set up Barkley's winner, he exhibited his hard-working nature with a match-high five tackles.

Mount and Gilmour hooked

Chelsea endured a very poor first half and the performances of their midfielders appeared to contribute to that. Mount struggled to really influence matters in attack, while Gilmour was guilty of a few wayward passes that put his team in real trouble. It was not a surprise to see them both withdrawn at the break.

What's next?

Leicester go to Everton in the Premier League on Wednesday, while Chelsea face London rivals West Ham the same day.

Mikel Arteta believes Nicolas Pepe has "incredible potential", having already developed a greater understanding of what is required from him at Arsenal.

The club's record signing from Lille scored the opening goal in the FA Cup quarter-final victory at Sheffield United on Sunday, converting from the penalty spot in the first half.

Pepe has now scored eight times and registered the same number of assists during a promising debut campaign, though Arteta is confident there is still more to come from the talented 25-year-old.

Arsenal's head coach has been particularly pleased with how the player has grasped his responsibilities without the ball, as well as providing a threat in attack.

"I am very excited about what he can bring and what he's bringing to the team this season," Arteta told the media after the 2-1 victory at Bramall Lane sealed by a late goal from Dani Ceballos.

"I think he's made a click. I think he realises what he needs to do as well when we don't have the ball.

"I'm so pleased today. If you see his defensive actions, it's incredible what he was doing and then with the ball he gives us that creativity. He's a player that we need. It's always unpredictable what can happen when he has the ball is at his feet.

"I think [he is going] in the right direction."

Pepe joined Arsenal when Unai Emery was in charge but Arteta has been impressed by the Ivory Coast international - both on and off the field - since taking charge at Emirates Stadium late in 2019.

"I didn't know him personally but I think he's a player with incredible potential," Arteta - who won the FA Cup twice as a player with the Gunners - said.

"He needs to just be decisive in every game and take care of moments in the game when he disconnects himself a little bit, he cannot do that and I will be very persistent with him to try to change that because if he's at his best, he's a player that can make a difference for the team.

"He's such a nice boy, always smiling, always positive around everybody. He's a bit of a free spirit but that's good.

"You need all types of characters in the team and now he's showing his commitment to us."

Arsenal return to Premier League duty in midweek, hosting bottom club Norwich City on Wednesday.

Mikel Arteta must solve Arsenal's defensive issues if the club want to be regularly competing for trophies, according to Robin van Persie.

The Gunners made it through to the last four of the FA Cup on Sunday, defeating Sheffield United 2-1 at Bramall Lane thanks to a stoppage-time winner from substitute Dani Ceballos.

However, the late goal helped overshadow the shoddy defending that had allowed United to draw level in the closing minutes, Sead Kolasinac's weak clearance hitting Shkodran Mustafi to inadvertently set up David McGoldrick.

Arsenal have conceded 41 goals in 31 Premier League games and, while supporting Arteta's appointment, Van Persie feels reinforcements are required to strengthen a long-standing area of weakness.

"What I believe is it is very important for Arsenal and for Mikel to find a way to fix the set pieces," the former Arsenal and Manchester United forward said while speaking alongside Rio Ferdinand on BT Sport.

"Corners, set pieces, crosses, you're always holding your breath and thinking, 'Arsenal might concede'. You fix that with mental toughness.

"It's like when I played with you [Ferdinand] and Vida [Nemanja Vidic], you would die to save the ball. You would put your head first, you would give everything to block the ball.

"That mentality is needed to compete for trophies. To be honest, I don't really see that now and that's not new either, we talked about this before and it was even an issue in my time there.

"You need to find defenders who want to do absolutely everything to block that ball. They should try to find those types of defenders.

"I'm not saying these guys are bad, but there is another level up if you want to win trophies."

David Luiz made his return to action in the FA Cup following his red card in the Premier League defeat at Manchester City.

The Brazilian centre-back played 54 minutes before going off with an ankle injury - Arteta revealed the player will be assessed on Monday in his post-match interview - after signing a new one-year deal this week.

Van Persie, however, is not convinced, suggesting before kick-off he would be attempting to rough up the defender if he was in the opposing team.

"If you play against him, I would go at him, almost try to bully him and to make physical contact with him and move around him, try to tease him a little bit because he is vulnerable," the Dutchman said.

"The first job you have to do is to defend, be solid and be trustworthy. If you have extra, you can dribble, do some nice passes, perfect. But he needs to focus on his job."

Mikel Arteta is delighted with the way his young Arsenal players are "evolving" as the Gunners fought their way into the FA Cup semi-finals with a 2-1 win at Sheffield United.

It appeared the game was headed for extra-time when David McGoldrick cancelled out Nicolas Pepe's first-half penalty in the 87th minute.

Arsenal responded with an injury-time winner through Dani Ceballos, though, and head coach Arteta was impressed with the attitude of his youngsters.

"They [Arsenal's young players] are evolving and they are really willing and finding a lot of personality to play," he told BT Sport. 

"You can see the way they played and Eddie [Nketiah] the way he came on and fights with everybody, he doesn't care. I really like that."

After back-to-back defeats to resume their halted Premier League season, Arsenal have rebounded with a top-flight win against Southampton and their cup success versus the Blades.

"We really needed that, we played four away games after the coronavirus [break], it's not easy to do that in the Premier League and hopefully we can get some momentum going now," Arteta said.

Arsenal are back at Wembley and two wins away from lifting a first trophy under Arteta, who was appointed Unai Emery's successor in November.

The Spaniard says Arsenal remain very much a work-in-progress, though.

"We still have a massive gap to fill in, we have to improve many departments a lot, we have to respect the process," he added. 

"It's been really difficult, stop-start, stop-start, but we'll get it right. I'm convinced of that, we just need a little bit of time that's all."

Speaking to BBC Sport, he added: "It is a great opportunity to try and win a title and play in Europe."

David Luiz returned from suspension but lasted just 54 minutes of the contest at Bramall Lane.

Providing a brief update at his post-match news conference, Arteta said: "It was his ankle. He will get it assessed tomorrow [Monday]."

Dani Ceballos scored a stoppage-time winner as Arsenal reached the FA Cup semi-finals with a dramatic 2-1 win over Sheffield United. 

Nicolas Pepe's first-half penalty appeared set to be the only goal at Bramall Lane, only for a largely forgettable game to explode into life in the closing stages. 

Sead Kolasinac's poor clearance struck team-mate Shkodran Mustafi to inadvertently tee up David McGoldrick for an 87th-minute equaliser, seemingly sending the all-Premier League tie into extra time. 

However, substitute Ceballos beat Dean Henderson with a low shot from a tight angle to secure a July trip to Wembley for Mikel Arteta's side. 

Mesut Ozil is absent from Arsenal's squad to face Sheffield United in the FA Cup on Sunday after suffering a minor back injury.

The 31-year-old attacking midfielder is enduring a difficult season with the Gunners and is yet to play following the campaign's resumption after the coronavirus-enforced suspension.

Ozil was not even named on the bench in Arsenal's first match back, the 3-0 defeat at Manchester City, though he was an unused substitute for the two following matches.

Given his lack of minutes, it was by no means a surprise to see the German absent again when Mikel Arteta's starting XI and bench were announced at Bramall Lane.

However, Arsenal quickly confirmed a "slight back injury" sustained in training a day earlier was to blame for Ozil not being selected in the matchday squad.

Arsenal are aiming to become the second team to qualify for this season's FA Cup semi-finals after Manchester United defeated Norwich City after extra-time on Saturday.

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