Both teams came into this game with not the best run of form. Manchester City’s dreams of becoming the first ever English team to win a quadruple were over having lost to Wigan in the FA Cup on Monday. Arsenal, on the other hand, saw a terrific win over Everton, a 1-0 loss in the North London derby, a comfortable win in the arctic weather of northern Sweden against Ostersunds and then a shocking loss to the same opponent in their own back garden.
It took just 18 minutes for Arsenal to be cracked open by a long ball from a goal kick. Mustafi was to blame, making three major errors in the run-up to the goal. First, he needs to be goal side. Second, even if there was a slight arm from Aguero, he needs to challenge to win that ball. Thirdly, if you miss the first ball, make sure you get the second, even a centre back from a Sunday league side knows that. Mustafi was, instead, left flailing his arms for a decision which was never going to come. Still, this was a great bit of intelligence from Aguero/Bravo. It is amazing how this is Aguero’s first goal in a final, failing to net one in his previous eight. Bravo, with all the antics going on with him and Guardiola off the pitch this season, deserves credit for this great assist. It is often forgotten the part he has played in this cup run for City, with penalty winning saves in the 4th round against Wolves, and the quarter finals against Leicester.
The rest of game seemed like a breeze for City, Arsenal came back out at half-time and offered nothing new or exciting. City scored a further two, one from the skipper Vincent Kompany, the second from David Silva, which garnered little response from the Gunners. The anger from Arsenal fans for Wenger to leave doesn’t come from the fact that they lost to arguably the best team on the planet right now, but from how their manager failed to employ any real change in tactics or any spark of creativity from his side to get them back in this final. We have seen City dominate teams all season, with many clubs just trying to keep the score down. That is understandable, as City can just run riot against anyone, but in a Cup final you have to fight back. You cannot just try and see the game out, to try and make the scoreline look less embarrassing. There was no leadership or belief in the Arsenal team which could have got them back in this game.
This game marks Guardiola first success in England, and it was great to see it come from the old guard of Aguero, Kompany, and Silva. Many will follow for this Manchester side, with the Premier League all but won. Kompany said, after their first success in 2011 with their FA Cup, “We’ve laid down the foundations.” Guardiola has certainly laid down the foundations to a team which will go on to win many more trophies and will not only beat England’s best but also Europe’s.
By Owen Ellicott