The Manchester City fans are feeling confident in the Transfer Tavern ahead of their Carabao Cup final with Arsenal today, despite the fact they were dumped out of the FA Cup earlier this week.
Manchester City’s ambitious dream of claiming a historic quadruple this season was finally put to rest on Monday evening as their FA Cup nemesis knockout them out of the competition for the third time since 2013. The result could have been entirely different on another day, as City had plenty of chances to take a decisive lead in the first-half and were later unfortunate to see Fabian Delph receive his marching orders following a strong challenge on Max Power, but it’s important both the players and Guardiola put things right this weekend.
Both Kyle Walker and John Stones will want to quickly forget about Wigan’s deciding goal which arrived after both defenders failed to assess the situation and make what should have been a routine clearance on the half-way line, however, Guardiola should be more concerned by Danilo’s defensively suspect performance.
The former Real Madrid employee was deployed at right-back in the second-half, and then at left-back in the second-half due to Delph’s dismissal on the stroke of half-time, but he struggled to impress on either side of the field.
What was particularly concerning about Danilo’s performance at left-back was the lack of balance he offers City on that side of the pitch, as he almost always opts to cut inside onto his right-foot when in possession of the ball.
With that being said, Guardiola simply must make a bold decision and start the relatively inexperienced – but crucially – naturally left-footed Oleksandr Zinchenko when his side face Arsenal at Wembley later today. The 21-year-old Ukrainian international is an attacking midfielder by trade, but he has slotted in to cover at left-back in his 9 appearances for The Citizens so far this season.
Within those appearances, Zinchenko (valued at £4.05 million by Transfermarkt) has been wise in possession and a persistent option regardless of whether he hugging the left-touch line or tucking into the centre of midfield. Zinchenko certainly has plenty of learning to do with regards to the defensive aspects of his game, but that is certainly not a criticism, as he has looked sturdy in the tackle and demonstrated a surprisingly shrewd ability to read the game.
The fact that Zinchenko has never played in the final of a domestic cup competition on English soil before suggests that it would be a huge risk to start him against Arsenal, but it is a risk Guardiola must take based on his ability to balance the City side.