This Sunday provides the chance for either Arsenal or Manchester City to win the first piece of silverware of the 2017-18 season. Given the playing styles of the two teams, the 2018 League Cup Final seems like it will be one to remember. This final also offers Arsène Wenger the chance to make amends to his personal League Cup hoodoo, and in so complete the English domestic trophy haul.
It is clear that Arsenal are going to the game as underdogs, and rightly so. At this moment in time, Manchester City sit some 27 points in front of Arsenal and five places in front. They have cruised the Premier League and in so are proving to be one of the best teams the league has ever seen. However, being the underdog usually, if anything, aids Arsenal. One only needs to remember last seasons FA Cup journey, notably the Semi Final and Final, whereby the gunners were huge underdogs in both games. Despite this, Arsenal played with passion and a hunger that meant they outperformed their opposition on both occasions. Therefore, being the underdog could well prove to be a blessing in disguise, due to the fact it alleviates the pressure away from the manager and the players.
If there is one thing you should know about The Arsenal, it’s that you can never write them off and the Gunners will always have firepower of their own. An eager Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang awaits to take centre stage, having not played since the disappointing loss in the North London Derby. Sunday will provide him with another chance to roam on the huge Wembley pitch, and the Gabonese man will fancy his chances against a Manchester City defence that will start without a recognised left back in the absence of Benjamin Mendy and Fabian Delph after his sending off against Wigan Athletic. This right side for Arsenal could well prove to be influential in determining any success on Arsenal’s part. Hector Bellerin is always going to strive down the wing and if Aubameyang can get between the channels, Arsenal could mean business. On the topic of Wigan, the game on Monday night showed that Manchester City aren’t infallible, and with patience, hunger and perhaps a little luck, the sky blue team can be beaten.
The news that Aaron Ramsey will be fit for Sunday can also not be understated. The man is a physical engine, and always flourishes on the Wembley pitch. Ramsey adds something that our other midfielders don’t in the way he can roam box-to-box and still get on the end of attacking play. The statistics justify this opinion. In 8 games at Wembley, Ramsey has triumphed 8. It seems that any success on Sunday will be down to how well the Welshman plays.
Lastly, Arsène Wenger has a deal to sort with the League Cup. Both the 2007 and 2011 finals ended in defeat for Arsenal, against Chelsea and Birmingham respectively. While the defeat against Chelsea wasn’t too embarrassing, the loss versus Birmingham definitely was so. Therefore, Wenger should be even more fired up to win the one English trophy that has to date escaped his grasp.
While it might not be the most glamorous trophy during the season, and despite Manchester City being the best team in England right now, a trophy is a trophy and in a cup final there is never a forgone conclusion. There is also much pride at stake, not to mention the indirect positive factor of a huge boost in morale for the remainder of the season. The Arsenal should go to this game not ignorant of their opposition, yet optimistic. Personally, I feel we can win if we believe! After all, Wembley is our second home!