Arsene Wenger has never lifted the League Cup trophy as Arsenal manager and he probably never will as this performance was yet another reason why his time is up. He has allowed Arsenal to fall year on year, they have been lacking leaders for too long. They have been poor defensively for years. And now their attacking prowess is slowly disappearing.
It couldn’t have been any easier for Manchester City who weren’t even playing to their full ability but they were so dominant and so controlling as Guardiola earned his first trophy as the City manager.
Aubameyang had a chance to score early on after a goal kick sent Wilshere skipping past the challenge of Fernandinho. The ball then came out to the right where Ozil produced a low cross but a last ditch attempt from Walker stopped Aubameyang from putting the ball into the back of the net.
Despite that chance, Aubameyang was isolated for much of the first half and received little support from his midfielders. City were in control, but they weren’t at their best after some sloppy passes nearly let Arsenal in.
A goal kick from Bravo sent Aguero free for a one-on-one with Mustafi stood with his arms in the air appealing for a nudge. Aguero wasn’t waiting. Ospina came sprinting off his line and invited Aguero to loft it over him and into the net. He did exactly that. It was precise finishing from the Argentine. But it was abysmal, desperate defending from Mustafi.
If you are going to be outmuscled by the slightest of nudges then you are in the wrong game. The very first thing you are taught as a footballer is play to the whistle. He abandoned those principles. And paid the ultimate price.
Arsenal’s defensive problems got worse, Nacho Monreal, who had been one of their better defenders this season, was forced off due to an injury with Kolasinac replacing him.
Arsenal have always had defensive problems, but one thing they could be proud of was their inventive, precise attacking play which would leave defences dumbfounded. But they even seem to be lacking that attacking instinct that they were so renowned for.
Arsenal’s fortunes only got worse in the second half. They couldn’t hold on to the ball and all composure had gone well and truly out of the window. It was so easy for Manchester City.
They were outnumbered, outmuscled and outfought across the field. When Arsenal lost the ball there was no desire to get it back. The formation wasn’t working. They were totally overpowered in the midfield.
The chances for Manchester City kept on coming. De Beuyne’s short cross found Bernardo Silva in acres of space on the edge of the box. He fired the ball towards Kompany who slotted the ball home from close range.
There was no marking, no concentration and to do that in a game of this magnitude is pathetic. Gundogan and David Silva were allowed to run at Arsenal because nobody could be bothered to close them down.
City’s goals didn’t come from any individual brilliance, it came from the sheer laziness and disgraceful defending of an embarrassing Arsenal team.
And they weren’t content with just two. It was Silva this time, he turned Chambers with ease and smashed a shot across the goal which beat Ospina. It was produced by Danilo who was toying with the Arsenal backline.
As the ball fell into the net for an excruciating third time, the Arsenal fans had seen enough. They left in droves. A chorus of “Wenger Out” rang out around Wembley. Only then did he decide to change the formation which hadn’t worked from minute one. It was too late. It was hopeless tactics from a man who has had one too many chances. Surely now it is time Wenger called it a day.
Yet again Arsenal were missing a leader. They needed direction, but Wenger has known this for years. Not since Patrick Vieira have Arsenal had a good enough leader. The work needed to overhaul this Arsenal side is monumental.
Arsenal had a late flurry with Xhaka hitting the crossbar and Aubamayeng nearly capitalising on a rare Otamendi mistake. It was too little too late. The game had been over a long time ago.
It is Pep Guardiola’s first trophy for Manchester City, and whilst they will celebrate tonight, it will be back to the training ground tomorrow morning as they attempt to secure the Premier League title. It is the first of many for Guardiola you feel. But is time finally up for Arsene Wenger?
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