Just four days after their drubbing at Wembley, Arsenal have to do it all over again this evening as they play host to Manchester City at the Emirates. The Carabao Cup was on offer last Sunday but now the focus is fully on Premier League points as the Gunners look to salvage something from what has already been a week to forget.
With Arsene Wenger’s men lying in 6th there is not a lot they can do in terms of the title race but a win tonight would at least keep any slim hopes they may have of finishing in the top four. That said even with the gap between them and their arch rivals Tottenham at present then a win would do little difference in the race for the Champions League places.
What it would do is restore some pride to a Gunners side who have taken a mauling both on and off the pitch as of late, it was Pep Guardiola’s men who did the former while it was Gary Neville who pulled no verbal punches from the Wembley commentary booth.
However hard it may have been to watch, the criticism from the former Manchester United defender was valid and even the most ardent Arsenal fan would have to agree with the player turned pundit’s brutal assessment.
Arsene Wenger will look to what might have been, had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang slotted home a guilt edged chance in the first half to put Arsenal ahead it could well have been a different story, however the underlying factor was the soft underbelly that was displayed in both midfield and defence.
This was no more evident than for Manchester City’s opener as Sergio Aguero took full advantage of Shkodran Mustafi’s lack of desire to clear the ball. That moment arguably summed up just how spineless Arsenal have been of late.
Their defensive deficiencies will be of no concern to Manchester City though as they took full advantage of the fact on their way to their first trophy of the season and also the first English silverware that Pep Guardiola has laid his hands on.
The hope if not the expectation will now be to add more trophies to the cabinet come the end of the season, something that will surely come in the form of a Premier League title but there is still a very realistic hope of also landing the Champions League in May.
In the immediate term though the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has to make sure there is no Carabao Cup final hangover, especially as Arsenal will have to offer something resembling a performance to show that they have at least learned something from Sunday.
From here on in it is now a case of just how quickly Manchester City can win the Premier League, it could be that they win the title after playing their crosstown rivals United, to do so though they will have to win every game between now and then.
To be fair to them though that is something that looks highly likely, especially when you look at their last league performance. It was one that saw Sergio Aguero score four goals at home to Leicester as City eventually romped to a 5-1 win.
The home side were given a small fright at half time when Jamie Vardy restored parity after Raheem Sterling’s early opener, but once the Argentine Aguero found his groove there was simply no looking back as they runaway league leaders moved a step closer to a third title in seven seasons.
The weather could be a factor this evening and to be honest I am somewhat surprised that the game does go ahead, you get the feeling though that Arsene Wenger will be praying for a snowstorm of biblical proportions as that might be the only thing that stops City tonight.