Arsenal and Manchester City are set to lock horns in order to stake their claim on the first trophy of the 2017-18 campaign in the final of the Carabao Cup.
The EFL Cup could probably be Arsenal’s best shot at silverware this season. Arsenal are floundering outside the top 4 in the Premier League and in the UEFA Europa League, face AC Milan, who have found their footing under Gennaro Gattuso. The Gunners though, face a daunting task in the form of Manchester City.
Manchester City have had a merry run in most competitions to date, except their recent ousting from the FA Cup – a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Wigan, reminiscent of the earlier defeats against their conquerors. The Citizens though, will be looking to get their first trophy under Pep Guardiola after ending the previous season with none.
Odds are stacked against Arsenal, with the Gunners placed at 4/1 to win on Sunday, according to Unibet. Their last encounter saw Manchester City come out victorious at the Etihad by a scoreline of 3-1. Ahead of their latest meeting, we take a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
Benjamin Mendy remains the only long-term absentee, with Gabriel Jesus returning to training and the Brazilian will be looking to prove his fitness to make the bench for the final. Fabian Delph is suspended for the tie, which should see Danilo being deployed on the left side.
The interesting point is Pep Guardiola confirming that Claudio Bravo will start in goal in the final. Another bone of contention will be as to the pairing that the manager will go with, considering all of his options – Vincent Kompany, Aymeric Laporte, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi – are all fit and available for the game against Arsenal.
Sergio Aguero will spearhead the attack, but Raheem Sterling is a doubt for the game and could be replaced by Bernardo Silva in the starting lineup.
Pep Guardiola loves for his side to play free flowing football, but against Arsenal they might have to take a step back and look to counter more, especially with Arsenal themselves preferring to play possession football.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Bravo; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Danilo; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Silva, Aguero, Sane
Santi Cazorla and Alexandre Lacazette are both injured and unavailable for the tie. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is ineligible to take the field for Arsenal, having already played for Manchester United in the competition. Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are both doubts for the tie, but should make the team against Manchester City.
David Ospina will be the man between the posts for Arsenal in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday.
There are suggestions that Arsenal will shift from a 4-2-3-1 and field a 4-3-3. But, with Mkhitaryan unavailable, Wenger could choose a 4-2-3-1, with Granit Xhaka and Ramsey the holding midfielders and Jack Wilshere playing the number 10 role.
There could be a toss up between Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck for the last spot on the right side of the three-man attack behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey; Welbeck, Wilshere, Ozil; Aubameyang
1. Ceremonial Runners-up – Arsenal have lost more EFL Cup finals than any other side in the history of the competition (5).
2. Arsenal have scored just 5 goals in the competition so far – the lowest goals tally for any finalist in the history of the competition.
3. Arsenal have won both their meetings against Manchester City at Wembley – the two sides are yet to meet in a major cup final.
4. Sergio Aguero looks like a man on a mission, with 11 goals and 2 assists in his last 10 games in all competitions.
5. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has come to Arsenal in form, with the player having recorded 7 goals and 2 assists in the last 10 games in all competitions combined for Dortmund and his new team.
Player to Watch
The man who was hailed as the one to usher in a new era and lead the new generation of midfielders for England, Wilshere has somehow managed to recover well. But, this could be the moment he is thrust into the limelight again.
It was his performance against Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona that made people sit up and take note of the midfielder’s pedigree. And as Arsenal now brace to go up against Guardiola’s Manchester City side, a repeat of the same dominating performance in the middle of the park could make him the promised prince again.
Manchester City 1-2 Arsenal
This looks like a fixture that could be set to go the distance. Manchester City and Arsenal both possess brilliant attacks and two managers who love possession and free-flowing football.
We believe Jack Wilshere could be the catalyst on Sunday. While we have tipped Arsenal to win, this match should go beyond regulation time.