“Cometh the hour, cometh the captain!” Thanks to a Man of the Match performance from captain Vincent Kompany, Manchester City comfortably defeated Arsenal 3-0 in the Carabao League Cup Final. With the first trophy of the season locked down, the question remains if the Citizens can earn their first ever treble by also winning the Premier League and the Champions League.
Despite keeping a clean sheet, Arsenal could have easily broken the deadlock in just the seventh minute of play as a long ball from David Ospina eventually found its way to Mesut Özil who expertly slid it across the six-yard line for newly signed Pierre-Emerick Aubayameng. The Gabonese striker stretched for the ball and could only force it into the hands of backup City keeper Claudio Bravo and really should have scored.
With Arsenal failing to score their best chance of the game, Manchester City capitalized with their ruthless attack forcing chance after chance even with the notable absence of winger Raheem Sterling. In what Arsenal players found extremely controversial, Man City striker Sergio Agüero gave Arsenal center-back Shkodran Mustafi a slight bump in the back to get on the end of a Bravo goal kick. The Argentian then took the ball into his stride and lobbed Arsenal goalie David Ospina to give the Citizens a 1-0 lead in the eighteenth minute of play.
In terms of true goal-scoring opportunities, the first half remained quiet as the boys in Sky Blue were relentless in their tactics and sought to increase their tally with chances coming from Agüero, Kevin de Bruyne, and Leroy Sané respectively. City looked to have taken a massive blow for not only the game but also the rest of the season as Fernandinho, who has been crucial to Pep Guardiola’s system, pulled up with a muscle injury and was substituted in the fifty-second minute.
However, just as it looked as if Arsenal could claw their way back into the game, Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany poked the ball into the net in the fifty-eighth and celebrated as if it was the last goal he would ever score in his career. In what seemed like a training ground routine, de Bruyne delivered a corner in on the ground to the feet of İlkay Gündoğan who miscued his shot right into the path of the City skipper. The Belgian center-back was the first to react among a sea of Arsenal players and directed Gündoğan’s shot into the right corner of Ospina’s net.
With the Arsenal players failing to win their appeal for offside, their heads dropped and paved the way for another wave of Manchester City offensive pressure. Arsène Wenger’s plan for essentially starting a back five wasn’t enough for City’s attack as a clever pass from make-shift left back Danilo slipped in David Silva. The skilled Spaniard let the ball run past him beautifully and blasted the ball into the far corner with his left foot to stretch Man City’s lead to 3-0 in the sixty-fifth minute.
From that point on City were in cruise control and exercised their admirable passing of the ball to keep possession away from Arsenal. From a neutral perspective, the Citizens were dominant and Arsenal was the deserved loser and the worse team on the day. With just a mere five days in between, the Gunners will look to seek their revenge on the title-winning City side as the Sky Blues travel to the Emirates Stadium on Thursday, March 1st in a Premier League match-up that Arsenal need to win. Regardless of what team Wenger picks on the day, it’ll certainly be difficult to beat a Manchester City team who put up a performance like that in the Carabao Cup Final.