Manchester City are clear favourites for Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final. The most generous odds any bookmaker offers on the Citizens lifting the trophy at Wembley are 4/9; an implied probability of 69%.
Those quotes partly reflect the dominance of Pep Guardiola’s side. They have been beaten by just three teams: Shakhtar Donetsk, Liverpool and Wigan Athletic. Of those three defeats, only Paul Cook’s side’s 1-0 FA Cup win on Monday had tangible ramifications for City. That suggests that when they need to, they can beat any team in Europe and will go into every game as favourites between now and May.
That though, only tells half the story. Were this Man City outfit facing an Arsenal side from yesteryear, talk would be of a potentially enthralling meeting of English football’s elite, rather than one of almost David and Goliath dimensions.
It highlights how low Arsenal have fallen in recent years – and lost our fear factor. In the days of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira, Arsenal players had not only great ability, but also confidence and belief. How we would love to see those glorious days once more.
The club has been mired in mediocrity in the past 14 years and while there are signs of a better future after Arsene Wenger, current results must improve. It is not an unusual sight seeing smaller teams stand toe to toe with Arsenal, often beating or drawing with our illustrious club.
We are a team that was made famous for our great Invincibles team of ’04, but our current crop of players can’t lace the boots of that team. We don’t have leaders on the pitch, men willing to go the extra mile just to see their team turn losses to draws and draws to wins. The Gunners are now a mistake away from shooting ourselves in the foot, and it must stop. Perhaps Wenger, our greatest ever manager, has to leave the club for the club to move forward.
He has dropped his standards, buying substandard players all in a bid to maximise costs. A passionate manager that won’t allow his players become complacent is needed, but he would also have a lot to do in helping the players believe that they can be better than what they are doing.
The Europa League offers our solitary chance of reaching the Champions League next season, but with the likes of Atletico Madrid and AC Milan still in the competition, it would take something special for us to win it. It is a shame to see teams not scared of our club anymore – work must be done to bring that fear factor back.