Pep Guardiola is targeting a first trophy in English football when Manchester City take on Arsenal in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley sunday.
City’s quadruple hopes were ended last Monday when they suffered a shock 1-0 loss at Wigan in the FA Cup, and Guardiola says his players are determined to learn from their mistakes in a bid to win the first silverware of the Spaniard’s reign at the Etihad.
“We have to win titles to give more value to what we have done,” he said. “In the beginning of August, we said we will be judged by how many we win. It is the same for the five or six big contenders.
“I don’t like to lose competitions. What happened at Wigan, maybe I’d prefer to lose Premier League games than FA Cup, because now we’ve dropped a competition. But that’s football, it has happened and we can just focus on the next one and try to get better. All we can do is learn from Wigan.”
Meanwhile, Arsenal will be hoping to put right the wrongs of their 2011 League Cup final defeat to Birmingham. The Gunners were huge favourites ahead of the Wembley final seven years ago, but Obafemi Martins’ 89th-minute winner secured the Blues an unlikely win.
And with the League Cup the only domestic trophy Arsene Wenger is yet to win, the Frenchman is keen to put that right today.
“Yes of course (I am eager to complete the domestic set),” Wenger said. “What counts for me is that we go into the final with absolute desire on winning and performing on the day.
“Everyone expects a very exciting game and I feel it will be. It’s a good opportunity to show that we are at their level.”
Aaron Ramsey is winning his battle to be fit for the final. The Wales international has missed the last three games with a groin injury but Wenger is confident he will now be ready to be involved at Wembley.
Mesut Ozil is also expected to be available after illness while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can play having been ineligible in the Europa League, but Alexandre Lacazette (knee) and Santi Cazorla (Achilles) are out and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is cup-tied.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is waiting to see if midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil will be fit to play in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City
Raheem Sterling is a doubt for City because of an unspecified muscle injury. Striker Gabriel Jesus (knee) could come into contention after almost two months out but a change will be required at left-back with Fabian Delph suspended. Oleksandr Zinchenko or Danilo could feature with Benjamin Mendy (knee) out long term.
Guardiola has confirmed Claudio Bravo will retain his place in goal having featured in all domestic cup matches this season.
This is Arsenal’s eighth League Cup final – they’ve lost more than any other side in the history of the competition (5), winning the tournament twice in 1987 and 1993.
Manchester City will be making their sixth appearance in the League Cup final, and third in the last five seasons. They’ve won four of their previous five, failing only in 1974.
This is the first-ever meeting between these sides in a major final. Arsenal have won both previous meetings with Man City at Wembley – 3-0 in the 2014 Community Shield, and 2-1 in last season’s FA Cup semi-final.
Man City have lost just one of their last five meetings with Arsenal in all competitions (W2 D2), beating them 3-1 in their previous meeting in the Premier League this season. In the League Cup, Man City have won their last two ties against Arsenal (2009-10 and 2011-12), having lost their previous five between 1977-78 and 2004-05.
Arsenal have scored just six goals in the League Cup this season, the lowest tally of any team to reach the final in the competition’s history.
Wenger is aiming to become the eighth different manager to win all three of the English top-flight, FA Cup and League Cup after Bill Nicholson, Joe Mercer, Don Revie, George Graham, Alex Ferguson, Kenny Dalglish and Jose Mourinho.
Guardiola has triumphed in six of his previous seven major domestic and European finals, losing only to Real Madrid with Barcelona in the 2011 Copa Del Rey final. Meanwhile, Wenger has won seven of his 10 domestic cup finals with Arsenal, with his last two defeats coming in this competition (2007 vs Chelsea and 2011 vs Birmingham).
Of the 13 players who played for Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final defeat to Birmingham, only Laurent Koscielny and Jack Wilshere are still at the club.
Both Leroy Sane (3 goals, 1 assist) and Bernardo Silva (1 goals, 3 assists) have been involved in 50% of Man City’s eight goals in the competition this season.
Sergio Aguero has scored in each of his last four appearances against Arsenal in all competitions (4 goals in total). Only twice before has he netted in five consecutive games for Manchester City against a single opponent (Tottenham with a run ending in May 2015 and Sunderland in a run ending in March 2017).