Carabao Cup Final Preview – Arsenal vs Man City

Arsenal and Man City go head to head today at Wembley in the Carabao Cup final. The game kicks off at 4:30pm. Arsenal got to this stage by beating Doncaster, Norwich, West Ham and Chelsea. Man City beat West Brom, Wolves, Leicester and Bristol City. It’s an opportunity to win the first trophy of the season, and both managers will send their strongest team out there and try to win it.

Arsenal haven’t been great lately, and are definite underdogs going into this game. Their form has been quite poor, and they are coming off the back of a shock Europa league defeat to Ostersunds. They went through on aggregate anyway, but there are huge worries for Arsene Wenger’s side. They have been so far off the pace this season, and are 27 points behind Man City in the Premier League table. That shows how far of a gulf in quality there is between these two sides, but this is a cup final. League form doesn’t come into play, and anybody can win it on the day.

Arsenal definitely have a chance to win this today, and their record at Wembley will give them confidence ahead of the game. Before their defeat to Spurs a few weeks ago, they had won their last nine games at Wembley. It’s a remarkable record, and they will want to keep their good cup record going today. They’ve won three FA Cups in the last four years, and beat Man City in last season’s semi-final. The League Cup is the one domestic competition Arsene Wenger hasn’t won, so he’ll be hoping his side can put that right for him today.

Arsene Wenger spoke to Arsenal’s official website, and said: “Because Manchester City are dominating the league, that is in the head of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs than in the FA Cup semi-final last year.

“So I agree that we are maybe underdogs, but we have to believe in our quality. The history, the fact we have done it before [against Man City last year], shows you ‘why not do it again?’.

“You must have enough belief to think you can do it, that on the day you manage to turn up with the right spirit and the right mentality, the right belief.

“In the final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it is as well about finding the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play our game.

“That will be the target again: to have a belief but as well to find that right balance.”

Arsenal will be without Alexandre Lacazette, who is injured, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who is cup-tied. Aaron Ramsey is fit. David Ospina will start in goal.

Man City go into this game off the back of a shock FA Cup exit at the hands of Wigan, but they still won’t be short of confidence going into it. Their form this season has been nothing short of incredible, and they’re undoubtedly the best team in England. If they show up today and play to the best of their ability they will more than likely win the game. But it won’t be an easy game for them, and last season’s FA Cup semi-final defeat will be in a lot of their players’ minds. Still, they should be winning this one against a struggling Arsenal side. If they can get at the Gunners early on, they could comfortably win this game. An early goal would really knock Arsenal, and the Gunners could find it hard to get back into the game.

Man City will more than likely dominate possession today, and what they do with it will be what counts. Kevin De Bruyne will be their most dangerous player, and Arsenal need to nullify him today or they’ll be in huge trouble. The Belgian is so good, and he can dictate games and decide them on his own. They have so many other dangerous attacking players though, and they can really hurt you from anywhere. I can see them scoring at least a couple of goals today, so Arsenal will have to be really good defensively to keep them out. The Gunners will also have to take any chances that come their way.

Pep Guardiola said: “I’d like it not for me – for the club. We are here to try to win titles.

“The first step was to arrive in the final. We did it and now will we try to win it.

“Everybody knows here in England it is so demanding. All around the world they play three competitions, but here four.

“It’s one of the toughest schedules but if we were not interested in the competition we’d have dropped out in the first game.

“That will not happen. We will play every game to win. We deserve to be in the final and we are going to try to win.”

Raheem Sterling is a doubt for City, while Fabian Delph is suspended. Gabriel Jesus could return to that City squad after injury. Claudio Bravo will more than likely start in goal.

I think this one has the potential to be a great game to be honest. Both sides love to attack, and are both quite suspect at the back. I think we could see quite a few goals today, but I hope they don’t all come from Man City. I’d love to see a really competitive, end-to-end game, and let’s hope we get that. Man City are clear favourites, and Arsenal are going to have to put in one of their performances of the season if they’re going to win this one. But it’s a cup final, and you can’t write them off before a ball is kicked.

The team news will be out in the next few minutes, and that’ll be up here as well. You can follow the game with me on Twitter. Enjoy the game, and let’s hope for a cracker.

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