Carabao Cup Final: Prepare for first trophy of Pep's reign

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hugging Sergio Aguero.
Will Manchester City be celebrating after their EFL Cup final match against Arsenal?
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After a week in which both Manchester City and Arsenal lost to minnows, Dan Fitch thinks it will be Pep Guardiola's team that will bounce back to win the Carabao Cup final.

"City’s defence has been surprisingly secure this season, but they have conceded in nine of their last twelve games."

Back both teams to score and Manchester City to win at [2.8]

Arsenal [5.6] v Manchester City [1.64]; The Draw [4.6]
Sunday, 16:30 GMT
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Arsenal waste chance of psychological advantage

When Manchester City lost to Wigan in a shock defeat on Monday, Arsenal were presented with the rare opportunity of facing Pep Guardiola's team when their confidence might still be a little fragile.

All they had to do was circumnavigate a potential upset of their own. It says much for Arsenal's decline over recent seasons that their inability to do so, as they lost 2-1 at home to the Swedish minnows Ostersund, failed to register anywhere near the same level of surprise as City's loss in the FA Cup. While it's true that Arsenal had effectively already won their Europa League tie after a 3-0 victory in the first-leg, Arsene Wenger picked a sufficiently strong side for there to be no excuse for such a limp, uninspired performance.

It's a result that says so much for Arsenal's mental weakness, yet it should not be forgotten that when motivated, they have enough talent to cause any team problems. After all, the Gunners have won three of the last four FA Cup finals, beating the Premier League champions Chelsea last season, in a match in which they were the underdogs.

Arsenal will give fitness tests to Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil ahead of Sunday's League Cup final. The other big selection dilemma for Wenger comes in goal, where he is expected to play David Ospina over his regular first choice Petr Cech.

Big test for City as they readjust their goals

The dream of a quadruple might be over for Manchester City, but they now have a chance to prove their fortitude by winning the first trophy in a potential treble.

City have successfully bounced back from their previous defeats this season with lengthy unbeaten runs. Their Champions League loss to Shakhtar (when they had already won the group) was followed by ten unbeaten games. Then came a defeat to Liverpool, which was followed by a seven match unbeaten stretch.

The Wigan match has the potential to leave a deeper scar. City would have surely won had they not had Fabian Delph sent off and to make matters worse, they then presented Wigan with the opportunity to win, when Kyle Walker made a bad error. Should such self-inflicted wounds occur in forthcoming games, Guardiola's side will be under a psychological pressure to overcome them in a way they were unable to against the League One club.

Like Wenger, the Manchester City manager has hinted that he could play his reserve goalkeeper, with Claudio Bravo in line to start ahead of Ederson. Guardiola must also decide who starts at left-back, with Delph suspended.

City good price to win inside distance

Manchester City are the [1.64] favourites to win in 90 minutes, with the draw at [4.6] and Arsenal at [5.6].

It's a pretty chunky price for a City team what have only failed to win eight of their 42 matches this season. Manchester City beat Arsenal 3-1 earlier this season, in a match which they were leading at half-time. The half-time/full-time double result is available at [2.5].

Arsenal have now lost five of their last ten games. One of those defeats came against Spurs at Wembley, in which their North London rivals could have easily won by a sizeable scoreline. City won't be so generous.

Goals will surely flow

Over 2.5 goals is the favourite at [1.52], with unders out at [2.52].

It's no surprise to see overs as the big favourite in a match between two very attacking teams. The odds for three goals or more are not particularly attractive, but when combined with a Manchester City win, the price of [2.1] is far more appealing.

Arsenal should score. City's defence has been surprisingly secure this season, but they have conceded in nine of their last 12 games, with both teams to score available at [1.53]. Again, this is not a great price, but it can be doubled with a City win for a very generous [2.8].

Aguero and Sterling could do damage

Sergio Aguero has scored in each of his last four games against Arsenal. At [2.0] he's worth a bet to add to that tally in a season in which he's scored 29 goals in 33 games.

Raheem Sterling has made a habit of scoring important goals and is another option at [2.8]. For Arsenal, new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leads the betting at [2.88].

Dan Fitch 2017/18 Season P/L

Staked: 364.0 pts
Returned: 359.50 pts
P/L: -4.50 pts

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