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EFL Final: Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City: Four standout performers

Monday 26th February 2018

Manchester City won their fifth English League Cup, beating Arsenal 3-0 at Wembley. Goals from Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, and David Silva seized Arsenal’s hope of an upset. Arguments that City bought their glory took a blow considering three old dynamos turned out to be the match-winners in Pep's modern era. 

Unwisely, Arsene Wenger became furiously involved in a touchline debate with Guardiola after City’s first goal. He looked like a man raging against an irresistible tide. He was still doing arguing at the end, pleading for more added time, prompting the fourth official to ask why he wanted to prolong his misery when three goals down? 

It was more fight than his team showed. The Gunners appeared to give up on the match, prompting match analyst Gary Neville to launch a tirade allegedly about showing spirit and respecting Wembley but possibly inspired by personally loathing the sight of United's noisy neighbours basking in glory.

Pep Guardiola, on the other hand, remained calm and composed throughout. He had done his homework against Arsenal, who, as GNev noted, were awful at any rate. The Catalan has won his first of two and very likely more trophies at the Etihad.

Let's see whether Wenger can evoke a response from his squad in their midweek Premier League rematch. For now, here are the top performers from the final.

Claudio Bravo, 8/10

The most criticized goalkeeper in Manchester had an awesome outing in front of 85,000 spectators in London. He made a key stop on an early Arsenal attack. Jack Wilshere left Vincent Kompany in his wake, then began a string of passes that led from Aaron Ramsey to Mesut Ozil then Kyle Walker. Bravo turned aside the right back's soft shot with his shin. He then made another timely save against Pierre-Emrick Aubameyang.

Then he provided the assist for Aguero's opener with a long ball over Shkodran Mustafi's head. The 34-year old made three saves in total.

Sergio Aguero, 7.5/10

Aguero scored his 199th goal for the Sky Blues, chipping over David Ospina from his own keeper's goal kick before Laurent Koscielny could intercept him and while Mustafi was busy appealing for a soft foul, having been nudged by the Argentine.

In the 40th minute, Aguero had another decent chance, running past Hector Bellerin after Mustafi missed the interception. He took a shot from the left side of the box, which seemed like a chip over Ospina, only for Mustafi to react. The German's attempted clearance found Kevin de Bruyne, who hit the side netting.

Vincent Kompany, 9/10

The skipper, only a few games back from injury, had a near-perfect match. He defended well, frustrating Auba on most occasions. The pacey Gabonese had no answers for the City captain. Kompany made five clearances and won five duels.

Apart from his defensive skills, the Belgian put the match solidly in City's hands, scoring from a grounded Ilkay Gundogan pass. Finishing a movement from De Bruyne to the German, Kompany gained control in traffic and calmly sent Ospina the wrong way.

Arsene Wenger, not having a good day, tried to argue the uninvolved Leroy Sane's offside position should negate the goal. As with everything on the day, it was a losing proposition. 

David Silva,9/10

From taking the corner in the second minute to scoring the third goal in the 65th, Silva exploited every opportunity. He manoeuvred the ball in the box before placing it in the bottom right corner. After moving past Jack Wilshere, Danilo took advantage of Calum Chambers’ poor marking of his teammate. Silva's high pressing also frustrated Arsenal's attempts to build from the back.

On the whole, it was a comprehensive day. In victory for City and defeat for Arsenal.

Harsh Vardhan

A pilot in the making residing in India, Harsh is also an ardent follower of European football and his heart resides in Manchester, particularly the blues. He has deep passion for writing, with special admiration for combined-elevens, while also contributing to the sports column of a local daily.

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