Carabao Cup final talking points
City manager Pep Guardiola is seeking his first major piece of silverware since coming to England.
Arsenal and Manchester City clash in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.
City manager Pep Guardiola is seeking his first major piece of silverware since coming to England while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is chasing the one domestic trophy he has not won.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at some talking points ahead of the game.
City’s bid to land an unprecedented quadruple was shattered on Monday as they crashed to a shock loss to Wigan in the FA Cup. Completing a clean sweep always seemed an improbable ambition but it was becoming increasingly realistic as Guardiola’s side powered on on all fronts. Having established a 16-point lead at the top of the Premier League and all but qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals, City were not expecting to be derailed by League One opposition. It remains to be seen how they react to the setback but Sunday can still be the springboard for much more success to come.
Gunners seek reaction
Arsenal also go into the game on the back of a disappointing result having been beaten at home by Swedish minnows Ostersund on Thursday. Ultimately the defeat was more embarrassing than damaging, given that the Gunners still progressed on aggregate from the Europa League tie, but it should serve as another wake-up call. Arsenal were also beaten by Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup this season and, having fallen behind in the race for top four places, their hopes of gaining tangible reward from the season could rest on this game.
While both managers have little reason not to field their strongest line-ups they both seem likely to opt for second-choice goalkeepers. This has become common practice in domestic cup competitions and, in Arsenal’s case, in the Europa League. Guardiola has said he wants to reward Claudio Bravo for some match-winning displays in the early rounds, including penalty shoot-out saves against Wolves and Leicester. This season has proved, however, that he is not at the same level as regular number one Ederson and his presence does not instil the same confidence in the back line. For Arsenal it may be slightly different given that Petr Cech has not had the best of seasons himself and so David Ospina may feel he deserves a chance.
Wembley payback chance for City
Arsenal have made winning at Wembley a habit in recent seasons having won three of the past four FA Cup finals, successes which also required semi-final victories at the national stadium. One of those, last season, came against City. On that occasion last April, City again went into the match as favourites but were undone by an Alexis Sanchez strike in extra time having earlier had a goal incorrectly disallowed. City responded by not losing another game for eight months. Having already outplayed Arsenal once this season, winning 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium in November, they will be confident of revenge.
The final will see the highest-profile use yet of the experimental video assistant referee system. Arsenal have some experience of it after it was used for both legs of their semi-final victory over Chelsea but it will be a first for City. There have been a number of teething problems with how the technology has been implemented in the handful of games picked out for the trial so far and Wembley will be a big test of the protocols.