The Carabao Cup Final is approaching at the end of the month. Although it may be considered as the lesser of the four competitions Manchester City remain in contention for, it may hold the key to a famous season for them.
Manchester City sit 16 points clear at the Premier League summit with just 11 games remaining. They are fresh off the back of a four-goal win in the away leg of their Champions League tie against Basel and are preparing for an FA Cup fifth round tie against League One Wigan on Monday evening. Next up after Wigan is the trip to Wembley to face Arsenal in the first domestic final of the season. It could be a key game for Pep Guardiola’s side in relation to their entire season.
At the start of the season the Carabao Cup would be have been the competition ranked fourth out of four in terms of Manchester City’s priorities. The team selections of Guardiola in the tournament support that with the Catalan continually fielding second string players throughout the run to the final. Now that they have got to Wembley, City could kick off the most successful few months in their history with victory over Arsenal. But could defeat have a detrimental effect on the rest of City’s campaign?
The quality of the team from the Etihad up to this point has been a sensation. It has given them a seemingly unassailable lead at the top of the league and has also seen them installed as bookies favourites to win their first ever Champions League title. All that said though, nothing has been won yet. The success of this season will only be measured once it is over and although the Carabao Cup may be the seen as the least valuable, it may well be the most important.
Success breeds success and a win against Arsenal at Wembley on February 25th could send City on towards an unheralded quadruple. To win all four trophies seems unthinkable and there is a lot of football to be played before that possibility becomes a reality. The boost in confidence and the tangible reward of silverware and medals in return for their performances would undoubtedly help their quest to win it all.
But could a defeat to Arsene Wenger’s team have put a mental block in the way of Guardiola’s sensational side. A failure to get the job done on the big stage would certainly be something the City players would carry with them for the remainder of the season. They have shown good mental strength in bouncing back from their only domestic defeat of the season against Liverpool, but that defeat never cost them a trophy. It has been difficult for anyone to find and exploit weaknesses in this blues team, maybe a mental block may be the only thing that can stop them.
This will be Manchester City’s third League Cup final in five years, having won both their previous final appearances. The last time they won it they went on to become Premier League Champions a few months later. Arsene Wenger has never won this trophy in all his years with Arsenal. It may well present their best chance of silverware and they will be desperate to win it for the Frenchman.
So, the perceived least important tournament that Manchester City are competing in may hold the key to winning the others. Getting over the line a lifting a trophy will hopefully feed the already high confidence with Pep Guardiola’s squad. Defeat may just sew a seed of doubt in the minds of the Citizens, they’ve got so good that ‘only’ one trophy may be considered as something of a disappointment. On the other hand, it could be first of a double, treble or even more.
Either way, the Carabao Cup may hold the key to Manchester City’s entire season.
Do you agree with these thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!