Carabao Cup final: Focus on the managers
Guardiola gets the upper hand over Wenger at Wembley.
Pep Guardiola once again came out on top against Arsene Wenger as Manchester City beat Arsenal 3-0 to lift the Carabao Cup.
Goals from Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva earned Guardiola his first trophy in English football.
Here, Press Association Sport analyses the roles of the two managers.
City coach Guardiola went for a familiar 4-2-3-1 formation, with Kevin de Bruyne pushed forward to wide on the right and Ilkay Gundogan deployed in the centre of midfield due to the continued absence of injured winger Raheem Sterling. Wenger’s selection was perhaps more surprising. He opted to line up in a 3-4-2-1 system which had not be used since they suffered a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth six weeks ago. However, with Henrik Mkhitaryan cup-tied, it was perhaps the only way to accommodate both Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka.
City’s opening goal led to a minor disagreement between the two coaches, with fourth official Graham Scott stepping in to cool things down. While it is impossible to know exactly what was said, the disagreement possibly stemmed from Wenger feeling the Gunners should have been awarded a free-kick in the build-up for goal-scorer Aguero’s slight nudge on Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi. VAR was available but referee Craig Pawson was happy for the goal to stand.
Spaniard Guardiola continues to have the upper hand over his more experienced rival. He has now won seven of their 13 managerial meetings going back to his days in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, drawing three and losing three. While Guardiola has not lost a league game to Wenger since arriving in English football at the start of last season, Sunday’s success avenges their previous Wembley meeting when City lost 2-1 after extra-time in the FA Cup semi-finals last April.
Having lost defender Nacho Monreal to injury in the first half, Wenger was restricted to just two substitutions as they chased the game in the second half, although he opted to make both after City had gone 3-0 up. Danny Welbeck was waiting to come on when Silva slotted in City’s third but neither he nor Alex Iwobi were able to make much of an impact. In contrast, City’s three-goal margin meant Guardiola was able to give an early rest to Aguero, bring on Gabriel Jesus for his first appearance since a knee injury, and give 17-year-old Phil Foden a taste of the final. The only sour note for City was an injury to midfielder Fernandinho.
After their shock FA Cup exit to Wigan on Monday, this trophy was the first piece in the jigsaw as City chase a memorable treble and Guardiola will hope it can act as a springboard to spur his team on to further success. The Premier League title already looks to be in the bag given their 13-point lead at the top, with a first Champions League triumph for the club also on offer. It is a far more dismal outlook for the Gunners and their manager Wenger. Securing the top-four finish required for Champions League football next season looks unlikely, meaning their sole hope of rescuing something from their season rests on the Europa League.