How underdogs Arsenal can end another Man City cup dream

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Arsenal go into Sunday’s Carabao Cup final buoyed by the fact that Manchester City are far from unbeatable after witnessing Wigan's heroics in the FA Cup.

Pep Guardiola is desperate to win that first trophy on English soil - the pressure is on.

So how will Arsene Wenger go about getting the better of Guardiola at Wembley? Here are some ways Wenger could mastermind a surprise cup success....

An extra man in midfield

Sounds easy, right? Stick more bodies in the middle of the park and City will become frustrated and unable to find their fluency. T

here has been no such trouble so far this season due to the fact that David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne are experts at finding those pockets of space in which to operate, but by adding that extra man in midfield, such pockets will be harder to find.

If a League One side can silence De Bruyne, why can't Arsenal?

Wigan Athletic v Manchester City - The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round

That extra man in the middle against Tottenham at Wembley two weeks ago really did nullify an in-form Spurs in the first half, as Arsenal restricted their north London rivals to one shot on target in the opening 45 minutes. Alexandre Lacazette would have felt aggrieved to have been left on the bench but, initially at least, the plan worked.

Jack Wilshere was the man to come in, sitting slightly ahead of the more defensively-minded pair of Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka, and Tottenham just couldn’t manoeuvre space to provide that killer pass.

Tottenham’s goal early in the second half had far too big a deflating effect on the Gunners, as they looked vulnerable from there on in.

However, that opening 45 minutes can provide some encouragement that a defensive job can be done on even the most in-form attacks. Remember: this was a Tottenham side who put two past Juventus on their own patch, the only two goals the Serie A champions have conceded in 2018.


Take heed from Wigan

Jose Mourinho, over the years, has been a master of the big occasion, setting his teams up to ultimately frustrate opponents, before catching them unawares on the counter to snatch all three points.

Rafael Benitez drew a great deal of criticism for adopting a uber-negative approach against City earlier in the season, with some believing the Spaniard had accepted defeat before a ball had been kicked.

However, can Benitez really be blamed for setting his side up so negativity against such a talented City side, especially when his side lost just 1-0, and almost snatched a point through Dwight Gayle right at the death?


Wigan went one better. Sitting back against City, riding your luck and then catching them off guard late on could really prove effective.

Arsenal are a team who very much like to keep possession themselves, but trying to compete with such a special City side could see them opened up.

It would be out of character for Wenger, but should he decide to instruct his players to be content with allowing City to have possession in deeper areas, City could get frustrated, as they did against Newcastle and Wigan, and gaps could start to appear.

The difference between Arsenal, and Newcastle and Wigan, is that the latter pair don’t possess anything like the attacking prowess of Arsenal, so, late in the game, if City leave gaps at the back as they become more frustrated, Arsenal have the attacking talent to score what could be a cup-clinching goal.

A risky strategy, but get to 70 minutes at 0-0, then it could be anyone’s game.

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal - Premier League

Go all-out attack

Liverpool showed the rest of the Premier League how it is done when inflicting a first domestic defeat of the season on City last month, with their high-octane performance helping produce one of the most pulsating encounters we have seen on these shores for a long time.

Arsenal cannot match Liverpool’s intensity levels, but in terms of attacking options, they have the artillery to put City on the back foot from the word go.

We have all seen the incredible output from De Bruyne in terms of assists. Since making his debut for Werder Bremen in August 2012, no player in Europe’s big five leagues has provided more assists than De Bruyne (77) in that time, but in terms of chances created, Mesut Ozil isn’t far behind.

Swansea City v Arsenal - Premier League

De Bruyne leads the way with 84 chances created in the Premier League this season, with Ozil second in the list. The Germany international has half the assists of De Bruyne, but now, with one of Europe’s leading marksmen ahead of him in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, more of Ozil's through passes have a better chance of being converted.

Boasting an even better goalscoring record than City’s in-form hitman Sergio Aguero, Aubameyang will pose City significant danger at Wembley. With 70 goals in 81 league games — only Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski, Harry Kane, Edinson Cavani and Gonzalo Higuain have scored more in Europe’s top five leagues in that period, and Aubameyang’s goals-per-game ratio is better than the latter three.

Does Wenger go with a front four, with Lacazette thrown in? With Aymeric Laporte at the heart of City’s defence - under intense pressure to justify his hefty price tag and still to settle to life in England - Wenger could go for broke, and should it all click, Guardiola's wait for a first trophy in England could rumble on.

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