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5 reasons Manchester City humiliated Arsenal at Wembley

Monday 26th February 2018

Manchester City has been phenomenal this season. Yet the Citizens have also failed spectacularly on some occasions. Most match days the Sky Blues sweep opponents aside but some results have been absolutely shocking. When a club is armed to the teeth with attacking talent then must depend on luck in a penalty shootout not once but twice against less-fancied opposition, shocking is an appropriate description.

City has beaten each of its top-six rivals this season, occasionally by a five-goal margin. They won the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford and lead the Premier League table by a massive 13 points and hefty goal difference with just 10 games to play. A win against Arsenal in their rescheduled game will restore a 16-point gap. It is therefore shocking they could not score a single goal against Wigan, a club wallowing in English football's third-tier. To then concede a goal and have no reply whatsoever to force a replay is surprising, to say the least. But then, that’s football. You win some, you lose some. What City could not afford was to drop out of two cup competitions in less than a week's time.

The Premier League trophy is all but won, but that was not the bone of contention on Sunday. Making sure it would not be lonely in the cabinet next year was the priority.  It was time to battle Arsenal for the very first trophy of the season, for Pep Guardiola's very first with the club. Arsene Wenger had not won the League Cup but had been riding a long cup match winning streak at Wembley. Who would carry the day?

It took less than 20 minutes for an answer to be provided. Sergio Aguero opened the scoring. More goals followed. City humbled Arsenal 3-0. Here are 5 reasons why the Citizens overran the Gunners:

Birth of an era

Pep Guardiola waited eighteen months to win his first trophy at City. This was his first final in English football. After coming away from his first campaign empty-handed, he has built a team that can win titles. It took dogged determination and a few narrow escapes to arrive at Wembley. Having come this far, his team was prepared to clear the final hurdle. The EFL Cup marks the beginning of an era at the Etihad.

Wenger has no defence

That Arsenal has problems at the back is not news. Arsene Wenger has concentrated on bringing in reinforcements up front rather than plugging the holes at the back. The team continues to leak goals every week. Manchester City took full advantage. Shkodran Mustafi’s defensive blunder led to Sergio Aguero’s 18th-minute opener. It was all downhill from there for Arsenal.

Before Sunday's showdown City had already dismantled Arsenal in the league, handing the Gunners a 3-1 defeat at home. Even though this was a cup final, City players were primed to do it again. Arsenal may have boosted its front line with the double signing of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but City remained both the more endowed and more determined to carry the day.

Sergio Aguero is on fire

The Argentine is up to something this season. He has been scoring goals for fun. And to win. And to justify his £220,000/week wages. And possibly because Yaya Toure promised to share his last piece of birthday cake. Most of all he has been scoring goals because it's Arsenal. He had scored in each of his past five games in all competitions against the Gunners. Just for fun, make it six.

Guardiola trumps Wenger in final wins

Heading into the showdown, the managers’ tactics were hugely important. Head-to-head Arsene Wenger lags behind Pep Guardiola. The two managers have met several times in the Champions League prior to the Catalan's arrival in the Premier League. Guardiola has usually gotten the better of the Frenchman. But what counted, even more, is their performance in finals.

Wenger's record is spotty, seven wins from 12 finals with the Gunners, 0-2 in the EFL Cup. Guardiola has won six of seven. His only defeat came against Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid in the 2011 Copa del Rey final. The Portuguese needed extra time to put his rival down. His squads have come away from the seven matches with a 14-3 aggregate score.

A point to prove

This match could not come at a better time for both coach and club. It provided the perfect opportunity to make amends for the FA Cup disappointment of the previous week. Alexis Sanchez chose Manchester United over City, claiming the club was the bigger of the two. Man United’s success has been driven by its ability to win trophies. Wayne Rooney remarked earlier in the season that without trophies to back it up, Manchester City is nowhere near one of the greatest teams of all time. Guardiola concurred. It was now time for the team to prove the hype is not misplaced. Prove it they did. 

Emmanuel Odey

Emmanuel is a freelance football journalist who lives and breathes the round leather game. He is a contributor on several platforms. You can follow him on Twitter for more.

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