Guardiola humbled by Sanchez but should resist tiresome transfer chase

Man City boss Pep Guardiola admires Arsenal's FA Cup match-winner Alexis Sanchez but should look to reinforce an imbalanced squad elsewhere.

Alexis Sanchez celebrates FA Cup semi-final win   -  Getty Images

Alexis Sanchez and Sergio Aguero, intertwined by transfer speculation that will surely run deep into the close-season, supplied sharply contrasting images of unfettered joy and helpless dejection as Arsenal overcame Manchester City 2-1 in extra-time to book their place in the FA Cup semifinal.

Aguero had City dreaming of a date with destiny against double-chasing Chelsea next month when he charged on to Yaya Toure's brilliant, raking pass and coolly dinked past Petr Cech in the 62nd minute.

It was a 12th goal in his last 12 games for the Argentina striker and 30th in all competitions this season, yet uncertainly still lingers around the future of City's modern-day talisman.

Pep Guardiola has been more forthcoming in his praise of the 28-year-old over recent weeks, crediting him for finding an all-round contribution to match his prolific goal return, but the Catalan's tough love earlier in the season still makes this feel like a marriage of convenience.

Brazil hotshot Gabriel Jesus won instant praise for his pressing and commitment before a sizzling and brief introduction to English football was grounded by a broken metatarsal, while Sanchez is rumoured to be in the sights of the man who signed him for Barcelona in 2011.

Again, in the build-up to this match, Guardiola praised the Chilean's talents and pointed out the world's leading clubs "know his situation" as a contract extension at Arsenal remains unsigned.

Sanchez is only one ingredient in the current state of flux around Emirates Stadium, where the debate over Arsene Wenger's future have left relations among the fanbase frayed.

The 67-year-old could take justifiable pride at Wembley as his players produced a showing of fight and grit after half-time that they have lacked badly during these fallow months.

Nacho Monreal was culpable for Aguero's opener but channelled his frustration into a thunderous equaliser on the end of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's marvellous cross.

Toure and Oxlade-Chamberlain's assists during normal time were moments of high-quality out of keeping with much of a frenetic affair.

Mesut Ozil and Danny Welbeck fluffed Arsenal chances, while Toure and Fernandinho tested post and bar as the 90 minutes careered towards its conclusion.

Guardiola and Wenger – two connoisseurs of the game – were presiding over a breathless mess.

Early in the additional period, a weary City was depleted by Aguero and Fernandinho hobbling off. At that moment, Arsenal located a lesser-spotted killer instinct.

City failed to deal with Mesut Ozil's floated free-kick and Sanchez slammed past international team-mate Claudio Bravo. He tore away deliriously as Aguero slumped grimly on the dugout steps.

Perhaps Guardiola and Sanchez will discuss this moment cordially when City return for pre-season training, but it is hard to escape the conclusion Guardiola's priorities should lie elsewhere.

He must add defensive steel to protect a goalkeeper less in thrall to variety show brouhaha than Bravo.

The former Barcelona man was not directly culpable here and his adeptness with the ball at his feet is valuable to Guardiola's gameplan, not a novelty. However, some hair-raising contributions early in the second half - a slip in his box and a header outside it - encouraged panic when City badly needed calm.

Control is another Guardiola buzzword. City had it for much of the first half but without David Silva - the genial Spaniard made way after being hacked down by Gabriel - it fell away.

That the easy passing style Guardiola sides flourish with at their best should crumble in the absence of one, admittedly brilliant, player should raise major concerns.

A close season embroiled in chasing Alexis would arguably be one wasted for the City boss, even if the Arsenal star turned this scene of his greatest triumphs for Barcelona into one of trophyless torment in a season dominated by big-game defeats.

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