After 86 matches, this season’s Carabao Cup has finally arrived at the final as Arsenal and Manchester City lock horns at Wembley.
This match also sees Arsene Wenger go for a 16th domestic trophy and a step closer towards Sir Alex Ferguson’s record of 22, whilst Pep Guardiola continues to look for his first on English soil.
David Ospina will start in goal for Arsenal, after getting the nod over first choice keeper, Petr Cech.
Midfielder, Mesut Ozil are expected to feature after overcoming illness that kept him out of Thursday’s Europa League match.
Aaron Ramsey however will face late fitness tests as he battles to overcome a groin strain.
Alexandre Lacazette won’t be featuring up front after being sidelined with a knee injury.
Manchester City will be without the suspended Fabian Delph, after he picked up a controversial red card in their FA Cup defeat to Wigan Athletic on Monday.
Ex Real Madrid defender, Danilo is expected to be Delph’s replacement here.
Gabriel Jesus meanwhile could feature, having returned to training after a knee injury. This match however could come just too soon for him.
Arsenal come into this clash with four defeats from six away games in 2018 across all competitions.
Luckily that away win came last time out in Sweden at Ostersunds FK, whilst they drew with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in first leg of the semi final.
Overall, its a tale of two halves because the Gunners are unbeaten at home but in shaky form on the road.
Manchester City meanwhile enter this match looking for Pep Guardiola’s first domestic cup title, after crashing out of FA Cup at Wigan last time out.
The Citizens however have conceded 13 goals in their opening 12 games of 2018, four more than in their last 12 of 2017 across all competitions.
Their result record this year remains solid though with seven wins, one draw and two losses.
Before appearing in the 2013-14 & 15-16 finals, City won their preceding match so could the Wigan defeat prove fatal for the Citizens’ League Cup dreams?
Road to Wembley
|Round||Home team||Score||Away team|
|4||Arsenal||2-1 AET||Norwich City|
|QF||Arsenal||1-0||West Ham United|
|Semi Final 1st leg||Chelsea||0-0||Arsenal|
|Semi Final 2nd leg||Arsenal||2-1 (Arsenal win 2-1 on aggregate)||Chelsea|
Arsenal have had to fight all the way through this competition with several tight wins at home, particularly against League One’s Doncaster Rovers and an extra time winner over Norwich.
Ultimately, this should stand them in good stead against challenging opposition in the form of Manchester City.
|Round||Home team||Score||Away team|
|3||West Bromwich Albion||1-2||Manchester City|
|4||Manchester City||0-0 Man City win 4-1 on penalties||Wolverhampton Wanderers|
|Quarter Final||Leicester City||1-1 Manchester City win 4-3 on penalties||Manchester City|
|Semi Final 1st leg||Manchester City||2-1||Bristol City|
|Semi Final 2nd leg||Bristol City||2-3 (Man City win 5-3 on aggregate)||Manchester City|
Given the opposition, you would thought that Pep Guardiola’s side would be waltzing their way to Wembley.
Instead they have needed two penalty shootouts and survived nervy tests by West Brom and Bristol City.
Those results however were often achieved with some fringe players in the lineup, so expect a proper Man City starting eleven at Wembley.
- En route to final, City have kept just one clean discipline sheet, against Bristol City at home.
- Leroy Sane and Mohamed Elneny have picked up two yellow cards between them. More than any other player from either team.
- Only once, have Man City met a fellow member of the current ‘Big Five’ in a domestic cup final (Liverpool – 2016).
- Excluding the Community Shield, Manchester City have met fellow members of the ‘Big Five’ here on three occasions, winning two with their only defeat coming last season in the FA Cup semi final to Arsenal.
- Arsenal are yet to lift the League Cup under Arsene Wenger, despite being runner up on two occasions under the Frenchman.
- Arsenal have finished runner up (5) in this competition more times than actually winning it (2). Compared to FA Cup when Arsenal have won it ten times (in same time period since League Cup was formed in 1960-61) and runner up on four occasions.
Since 2014, Arsenal have had an excellent record at Wembley, winning all eight trips but needed at least extra time on five of those occasions with two matches going to penalty shootouts.
Manchester City however have won their last three domestic cup finals (2011 FA Cup, 13-14 & 15-16 League Cup), making this a tough match.
As much as it would be great for Arsenal to keep that run going, I fancy Manchester City here, purely because their extra preparation time whilst the Gunners had Europa League action.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-2 Manchester City
Result: Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City