Pep’s first season at City is a failure
For the first time ever in his managerial career, stretching back all the way to 2008-09, Pep Guardiola will finish a season without a trophy to his name. With City also sitting fourth in the Premier League table and miles off the title pace, there is no glossing over the fact this has been a serious let-down from a manager of whom so much was expected. It was said Guardiola would revolutionise City, and possibly by extension English football, when replacing Manuel Pellegrini. He may yet do so, and it would be wrong to say City have not improved this season, but the transformation we all expected has been postponed.
Their lack of forward progress was evident against Arsenal: after City lost David Silva to injury in the first half at Wembley, they looked short of genuine ideas. Guardiola has been responsible for a few glorious periods of wonderfully intuitive football this season but his values have generally been harder to impart at City than they were at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. A lot of this is the fault of City’s poor recruitment in recent seasons but nevertheless, a Guardiola team should be playing better than City did on Sunday, even if they were unlucky to see the game ran into extra-time after Fernandinho and Yaya Toure both managed to hit the woodwork. After his first ever trophy blank, Pep needs to step things up next season.
Arsenal try something new, and get a new result
One of the persistent criticisms of Arsene Wenger is that, 20 years into his reign, he has lost the ability to innovate and change; that he is a dinosaur, whose inflexbile approach is holding Arsenal back. The last two games have given pause for thought. After debuting his first back three since 1997 in Monday night’s win at Middlesbrough, Wenger stuck with it at Wembley, deploying Rob Holding, Gabriel Paulista and Laurent Koscielny in a bid to try and keep things tight.
Not only that, but Arsenal then unveiled a brand new gameplan which could have been cribbed from Sam Allardyce: sit deep, and kick lumps out of the opponents. A reducer from Gabriel forced David Silva off in the first half and Koscielny almost condemned Sergio Aguero to an identical fate when battering the striker from behind. There was less of a focus on physical intimidation as the game wore on but, by and large, the back three worked nicely, Aguero’s goal aside, and the two new wing-backs even combined for a goal as Nacho Monreal volleyed home from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross.
More significant than a new formation was the rarity of seeing Arsenal beat one of their biggest rivals in a huge game like this. Maybe Arsene Wenger really can change.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: FA Cup Truths: New-look Arsenal silence Wenger Out brigade; Guardiola is a failure