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Carabou Cup Final 2018 Preview - Arsenal vs. Manchester City

Well it’s here.

The final between ourselves and Man. City.

Both have had bad mid-week results.

But can we win here? I say yes.

Call me mad, I don’t mind nor care. But I’m a Gooner. And one thing I know is that on our day we can beat anybody. I also know that we’re very erratic, and for every bad result/performance we get, a good one follows readily. If the “good” Arsenal shows up, then we can get something here – namely our 31st trophy and not have gone ten years without winning anything. The club that plays at Wembley more regularly knows something about that….

City is good, potentially great

Pep is arguably the best manager in the world, and his CV speaks for itself. Yes, he has only managed clubs with big money, world class talent, and all-time great players (like Messi). Nonetheless, many others have failed in the same position, and many players and coaches speak highly of his revolutionary methods. He may have been “stacked” as a manager, but no more or less than other top managers like Mourinho, Conte, van Gaal, Ancelotti, etc. He clearly holds the will and power to build a City dynasty.

City would want their first trophy under Pep - even if it’s just the league cup -but it would signify a step up and get them into the trophy spirit. In football style alone, City looks very good, and potentially rivals the Invincibles in their overall play.

The danger men of course are de Bruyne, Silva, Aguero, Jesus, and Sterling, with Ederson and an improved Delph and Stones providing good cover at the back.

It’s clear that we need to be on it to get much from this game, and I believe we can.


Wenger is developing a new found tactical flexibility.

In the semi-final, he virtually parked the bus at Chelsea. And from game to game, he is tinkering with a back four, and sometimes changing to a back three when warranted. Despite the detractors, he is realising that more meticulousness is required to succeed, albeit this Damascene conversion has not always bore fruit. However, the template is there, and he needs to utilise it in this final.

I can see Wenger changing the formation again. Though I believe we need to have a packed midfield, based on pace and pressing ability.

The Lillywhite scum game at home is another template to utilise here. Yes, Alli is good, and Kane is world class (I can admit that and hate their club as well…..) But Aguero is as good as Kane, and Alli has been poor vis a vis de Bruyne this season. So we need to execute any plan with the highest of intensity.

This is what I have in mind for the game here:

Mkhi had a poor game vs. Ostersund, but we need him here, and we need to play our strongest team.

The midfield three can both press and create, and playing two would not be prudent in my mind.

Ospina may well be our number one from now on, and he needs to play as well as he did in the FA Cup Final to stop their attack.

PEA/Batman can make himself a near legend (after three games no less), if he turns up here. He’s a world class forward, and used to the big stage, and he had an offside ruling that could have led to a goal vs. the scum. Let’s hope Wembley this week affords him better luck, and some goals to boot.


Our attitude here is key. If we’re on it, we can get a result. If we’re not, then it’s carnage. Yes, that’s melodramatic. But we know that we can play very well if we’re switched on. We cannot afford to be switched off here, or City will punish us.

Pressing is often a good way to combat creative teams, and teams do this to us for this reason. City is a better footballing side than we are, but we still on our day are up there with the best. Pressing inhibits quick passing and decision-making, which is crucial to playing a highly technical passing game. As teams have pressed the hell out of us, we need to do this to City. The Wigan game was a template on how to execute this, and it naturally provided City a negative result.


We cannot afford any mistakes here. All players, from GK to attackers, need to be primed and focused at all times.

Mistakes happen, as we’re human. But not the same ones in every game. This relates to attitude, as we cannot afford to gift them any time and space for their creative/attacking players.


It’s a grand stage for him to prove his value, and their defenders aren’t necessarily the quickest. If Ozil/Mkhi can supply him, then his pace can prove lethal. If PEA can get 10-15 goals in our remaining games, then it’s an excellent return in half of a season.


Now that our German golden boy is staying put, he can go a long way to securing his place in Arsenal folklore by putting in a match-winning performance here.

Is Ozil an Arsenal legend? He’s been a good player for us, without question. Though I will say the recently departed Alexis was far more consistent, telling, and productive in his tenure here. A legend for me is in part based on long-term consistency, and going above and beyond many other players in a club’s history. Ozil has the potential to be a legend, but for me he is not. He’s no Bergkamp, Wright, Henry, Smith, Merson, nor Pires in terms of consistency of attacking/creative prowess. Stepping up vs. City is one way in which he can be a legend. And potential is nothing if it’s never acted upon.

I sincerely want him to be a legend, since he has undoubted quality. He has this game amongst others to prove he can be.


Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City

Yes, I’m not deluded, nor “biased”. Despite City being potentially stronger following their Cup defeat, I do think that a “good” Arsenal can show up.

The League Cup is derided by our fanbase somewhat, but it’s still a trophy, and as we’re THE Arsenal our being is based on glory. Let’s beat the prospective English champions, and win our 31st major trophy. At the least, spare some thought (well not thought, but mirth and glee) for others who haven’t won jack since 2008. And incidentally, the very same final we’re due to play.

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