Manchester City are soaring, that’s like saying water is cold. The ‘shark team’ rips every opponent to bit at the slightest smell of blood (weakness). ‘The Cityzens’ can be likened to a speeding train crushing everything standing in their path to smithereens.
Arsenal on the flip side are…well, Arsenal. Same old Arsenal in that same old bottle of inconsistency. The drill of ‘Gunners’ is a familiar reoccurrence to their beloved; trump Tottenham Hotspur today but get gubbed by Koln in five days time or out-play and out-score Chelsea today and get absolutely murdered by Swansea four days after. And on Sunday, these two contrasting teams will throw their gauntlet and battle for the Carabao Cup at Wembley. This is it for Arsenal. The right time to show their heroics. Channel their inner ‘Peter Parker’ and halt a fast moving train with the odds well stacked against them.
It’s not unknown that Manchester city’s defence is their Achilles heel. With or without Vincent Kompany, the rearguards have always faultered in the face of intense pressure and tireless pressing as ‘GengenPressing’ Liverpool revealed in that 7-goal thriller that subjected Pep Guardiola to his first and only EPL defeat this season. This is where the pace and resolute of Arsene Wenger’s winter recruit Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang comes in. Alongside Alex Iwobi, who’ll most likely play in place of the cup-tied Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and intelligence of Mesut Özil, they should be able to press City’s defence into buckling and capitalize on the error.
Often, the tactical composition of Pep Guardiola’s City team has been about the marauding wingbacks flying well into the midfield and into the opponents final third, abandoning pocket of spaces on the flanks that can be exploited by the opposing team to stretch the thinly 3-man defence and fashion out space. Arsenal would be hoping to explore this vulnerability with Jack Wilshere’s creative ability to sprinkle passes to Iwobi and Welbeck or who ever will be starting on the flanks.
Like Wigan Athletic rightly showed on Monday, Manchester City can be reduced to litters in attack without the proficiency of Kelvin De’Bruyne, who started from the bench in that disastrous FA cup ouster. This isn’t stating that David Silva, Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero aren’t bunch of fantastic players who can change the complexity of a match on their own but without the cog-like presence of the Belgian at the DW stadium on Monday until the second half, City struggled for clarity and precision and failed to score in a match for only the third time this season. The combination of Granit Xhaka and Mohammed Elneny can stiffle the Belgian out, cut off his supply and limit his dynamism. With De’Bruyne marked out, Arsenal can have less to worry about and discombobulate City’s scary attack.
Arsene Wenger will definitely be extra-motivated by the prospect of finally winning the only trophy in English football that he hasn’t got his hands on after 22 years in England and he surely has everything going right for him at Wembley, having pipped this Manchester City side 2-1 en route to the FA Cup triumph last season.
Manchester City are soaring. Yes, they are but Arsenal can stop them on Sunday.