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It's a random Wednesday in April and we've got the biggest Premier League match of the season on tap. I'm Mike Goodman and this is the Golazo Starting XI newsletter, and we've got all the Manchester City vs. Arsenal coverage you could possibly want today. Plus, in Italy, a huge Coppa Italia matchup. So, let's get to the action.

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📺 Soccer across Paramount+

All times U.S./Eastern.

Wednesday, April 26
🇮🇹 Coppa Italia: Inter vs. Juventus, 3 p.m, ➡️ Paramount+ and Golazo Network (tactical cam)
🇺🇸 U.S. Open Cup: Miami FC vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m. ➡️ Golazo Network
🇺🇸 U.S. Open Cup: Portland Thorns vs. Orange County SC, 10:30 p.m. ➡️ Golazo Network

Thursday, April 27
⚽ UWCL: Barcelona vs. Chelsea, 12:45 p.m. ➡️ Golazo Network
🇮🇹 Coppa Italia: Fiorentina vs. Cremonese, 3 p.m, ➡️ Paramount+
🇦🇷 Argentina: Platense vs. Estudiantes, 7 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+ and Golazo Network

📺 Elsewhere ...

All times U.S./Eastern.

Wednesday, April 26
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 EPL: West Ham vs. Liverpool, 2:45 p.m. ➡️ Peacock    
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 EPL: Manchester City vs. Arsenal, 3 p.m. ➡️ Peacock
🇺🇸 Concacaf Champions League: Philadelphia vs. LAFC, 9 p.m. ➡️ FS1

Thursday, April 27
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 EPL: Tottenham vs. Manchester United, 3:15 p.m. ➡️ Peacock

⚽  The Forward Line

Manchester City vs. Arsenal for all the marbles


They don't come much bigger than this in a title clash. Manchester City might be five points behind Arsenal coming into the match, but with two fewer games played, anything other than an Arsenal win makes Pep Guardiola's team the prohibitive favorite to take the crown at the end of the season. It's a weird position for Arsenal to be in. Before the season, the Gunners were not favored for the title, they weren't even underdogs for the title. Heck, they weren't even favorites to crack the top four. They were coming off a fifth-place finish, albeit one that had them going in the right direction.

And yet, despite all that, Arsenal have been so good this season and have sat atop the table for so long, that it does feel like a disappointment that this game has become a must-win moment for them. They enter the match off the back of three straight draws. The first of those results, a 2-2 affair against Liverpool at Anfield, is understandable, but the next two, 2-2 away to West Ham after having a two-goal lead and 3-3 at home to bottom-dwelling Southampton, are unforgivable. That's the paradox of Arsenal, they are both way ahead of schedule and also on the verge of squandering a rare chance to win the title.

And those chances are rare, because, as you may have noticed, nobody is out here debating what this means for Manchester City. Manchester City are the team that's always supposed to win. There's no worrying about schedules or timelines, or when their best players will be peaking or planning a rebuild. When you have the resources they do, and have spent those resources as well as they have, you just have the expectation of winning every year. And it's the very existence of a club like City that makes the possibility of Arsenal blowing it so painful. Surprising as this opportunity may be for Arsenal, there's simply no guarantee it will come again over the coming years, even if this squad continues to build on its accomplishments.

The possibility of an Arsenal loss in this match would be a lot easier for the club to swallow if there wasn't always going to be a Manchester City cloud hanging over their bright future. Arsenal look like a squad that will be better in the future than they are now. That doesn't mean this wasn't their best chance to win a title threatening to slip through their fingers. Or, they could just go out and win.

Make sure you check out the midfield links for all of our coverage of the match.

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🔗  Midfield Link Play

Coppa Italia semifinal action returns

Sacramento Republic FC v Orlando City SC - 2022 U.S. Open Cup Final

It's leg two of the Coppa Italia's semifinal this week, and we've been blessed with the matchup of two giants on one side of the bracket between Inter Milan and Juventus. The big news is that Romelu Lukaku is available to play after the Italian soccer powers that be eventually came to their senses and overturned a suspension he received for shushing the crowd that had been racially abusing him after scoring a late game-tying penalty in Turin. Now, back at home, the question is, can the Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez pairing that Inter have tried to reunite this season finally take off? Francesco Porzio breaks it down.

  • Porzio: "This year Inter wanted to reunite the Lukaku-Lautaro duo that brought the last Scudetto under Antonio Conte in 2021, but due to the injuries of the Belgian striker, the duo barely played together so far. However, the recent performances clearly saw an improvement that can create some hope in finishing the season with the title."

And now let's get to some links:

🔗 Staff picks for Man City vs. Arsenal which don't exactly like the visiting team's chances.
🔗 James Benge makes his bold predictions for the match, see which Arsenal player he expects to handle the spotlight.
🔗 Arsenal's Oleksandr Zinchenko is a critical part of his team's success, which doesn't surprise legend Andriy Shevchenko
🔗 Take a look at how Belgian stars Kevin de Bruyne and Leandro Trossard developed in their early time at Genk.
🔗 And we've got the latest team news, projected lineups and injury updates for you ahead of the big match.
🔗 Don Garber had some thoughts on Messi, MLS, and just how big a move it would be if it were to happen.
🔗 And don't miss Morning Footy getting in on the action, with Charlie Davies and Alexis Guerrero in Manchester.
🔗 After Tottenham got absolutely whooped 6-1 by Newcastle, they've offered to refund the ticket prices to traveling fans.
🔗 In Soccer We Trust: The crew break down US Soccer's new director of football.
🔗 House of Champions: Everybody's on hand to preview the Premier League showdown.
🔗 Attacking Third: Sandra and Lisa are here bringing you all the latest from the world of women's soccer.

💰  The Back Line

💵 Best bets

All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and all times U.S./Eastern. SportsLine has you covered with this weekend's best bets.

  • Premier League: Manchester City vs. Arsenal, Wednesday, 3 p.m.
    💰 THE PICK: Arsenal (+410) -- Sometimes you've got to bet with your heart. And my heart wants a title race. I don't want the top two effectively playing out the string down the stretch of the season as City glides to another championship. I want drama and fireworks, and for my Arsenal-supporting friends to have mild coronaries every weekend. Plus +410 is just a really big number for a team that's been the second best in the Premier League all season.
  • Coppa Italia: Inter vs. Juventus, Wednesday, 3 p.m. 
    💰 THE PICK: Inter (-111) -- It's been a strange season for Inter, who currently find themselves in the semifinals of the Champions League but also outside the top four in Serie A, while also having roughly the same expected goals difference as world-beating Serie A-leading Napoli. A Coppa Italia victory wouldn't save their season, but it would sure be a nice consolation prize.