Can Arsenal stop Man City?

Arsenal extended their unbeaten run against Chelsea to five games when they dumped the Blues out of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night. It ensured an optimistic start to the post-Alexis Sanchez era, but their reward is a final showdown with the mighty Man City. There is not a tougher draw in English football right now, arguably in world football, as Pep Guardiola’s men are favourites for all four competitions this season. The runaway Premiership leaders are bidding for a historic quadruple and are in superb form, but can Arsenal muster up the ability to halt their charge?

The Gunners acquitted themselves relatively well at The Etihad earlier this season. They were aggrieved when City went 2-0 thanks to a controversial penalty – Arsene Wenger accused Raheem Sterling of diving – and then pulled it back to 2-1 through Alexandre Lacazette. For a brief time Arsenal were in the ascendancy and looked like they would get an equaliser, only for Man City to make it 3-1 through Gabriel Jesus. Replays showed the Brazilian was offside. City just about deserved the win, but Arsenal were upset by the nature of it and might fancy their chances of gaining revenge on neutral turf. When they met in November, Man City were still unbeaten, but their air of invincibility has slipped after a 4-3 defeat at Anfield. Guardiola’s team have been sensational at times, but have also ridden their luck on many occasions – a 0-0 draw at Selhurts Park, last gasp winners against Southampton and Huddersfield – so Arsenal are certainly in with a chance. Man City are undoubtedly the best team in England, but cracks in the armour have started to appear.

They were very shaky in their semi-final tie against Championship side Bristol City, despite playing close to a full strength starting 11. They were trailing in the first leg at The Etihad and had to rely on a late goal from Sergio Aguero to claim a 2-1 win. Then they were cruising at Ashton Gate, 2-0 up, only to concede two quickfire goals to set up a nervy finale before Kevin De Bruyne made it 3-2.

Man City are magnificent going forwards, but the vast upswing in results this season has been driven by a significant defensive improvement. Now that defence, so strong in 2017, is looking shaky. Man City have not kept a clean sheet in six games and the old worries about the likes of Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones are starting to resurface. Arsenal have the sort of attacking talent that can really target that weakness. Sanchez is gone and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is cup tied, but Arsenal can throw the likes of Mesut Ozil and Lacazette – perhaps even Bundesliga legend Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is reportedly on the verge of a transfer to the Gunners – at Stones and co and cause them all sorts of problems.

Last season Arsenal defied the odds to beat Man City in the FA Cup semi-final, leaving Guardiola facing up to trophyless season for the first time as a manager, and then beat Premiership champions Chelsea in the final. They are too inconsistent to win the title, but they are a good cup team, as they showed by beating Chelsea over two legs in the Carabao Cup semis.

If you considering placing a wager make sure to use a reputable site like Ladbrokes, and you will see that Man City are 4/9 favourites to win the final at 11/18, while Arsenal are all the way out at 4/1. That represents strong value on an Arsenal team that has the ability to surprise on its day. An even better option could be both teams to score and over 2.5 goals at 10/11, as both defences are leaky and both teams are very strong going forwards.