Its Cup Final day tomorrow in the capital, as Manchester City and Arsenal prepare themselves to play under the famous Wembley arch.
A sea of blue and red will descend upon the national stadium come Sunday afternoon at 4:30pm and here’s what each manager had to say in preparation for the first big final of the football season in England.
On his teams route to the final, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has spoken of how free scoring his side have been, “We have certainly been economic [scoring six times en route to the final], because we’ve faced some good teams.”
Wenger accepted the fact his League Cup team selection has sometimes not been his strongest available XI, “It’s true that I always used to use this competition with a youth team. For us it’s an opportunity. We’ll play with all the regular players. We go to Wembley and you want to win it, you want your fans to go home happy.”
In the Gunners last visit to Wembley for the League Cup final, Wenger’s men lost 2-1 thanks to an Obafemi Martins winner for Birmingham City, and the Frenchman acknowledged mistakes were costly in that final; “We gave soft goals away basically, I remember that incident between Koscielny and Szczesny in the last minute of the game where we made a mistake at the back.”
“Overall, I believe that the game was of quite good quality and Birmingham produced a good performance. I think we’ll be more in a position where Manchester City is favourite this time, so of course we have to raise our level to create the surprise.”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola approaches what is his first visit to Wembley for a cup final in England, and it could kick start the route to the treble for the blue half of Manchester.
Guardiola’s men could be boosted by the return of Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus from his injury suffered on New Years Eve, “We will see tomorrow whether Jesus is fit enough, he made the third training session and every day he is better. His return to fitness is so important.”
The pressure continues to grow on Manchester City to capitalise upon the obvious dominance this season in English football especially following the recent 1-0 defeat to League One high-fliers Wigan in the F.A. Cup and Guradiola is aware of that, “Every game we played, when we won, we were happy the day after. Of course, we’ll be judged on trophies and for the club it’s so important because it’s a club that needs to grow and grow and win titles.”
It could be accused that the Spaniard doesn’t take the cup seriously following accusations in September that it was a waste of his players energy, but the former Barcelona coach defended his word, “The Carabao Cup is in October, November, December and January, it’s one of the toughest schedules, but if we were not interested in the competition, we’d have gone out in the first game. That did not happen. We played every game to win. We deserve to be in the final and we want to win it.”
In terms of injuries, other than Jesus, it looks like City could be without in form winger Raheem Sterling who has a muscle problem. Fabian Delph, who has found a new lease of life this season, is also unavailable for selection following his red card at Wigan last week.
Arsenal look to have no injury worries but perhaps some fatigue following Thursday night’s Europa League loss to Swedish side Osterunds, meaning Alex Iwobi is Wenger’s only real worry. Wenger will also have his medical team assess midfielder Aaron Ramsey to check he is up to scratch.