Manchester derby - advantage City

Manchester City go top of the Premier League with this derby win over United.

Can Pep Guardiola finally earn a piece of hardware in the English top flight, or will Arsene Wenger yet again put Premier League disappointment aside to hoist a trophy?
EFL Cup Final preview: Arsenal, Manchester City fight for different types of glory
Can Pep Guardiola finally earn a piece of hardware in the English top flight, or will Arsene Wenger yet again put Premier League disappointment aside to hoist a trophy?
Can Pep Guardiola finally earn a piece of hardware in the English top flight, or will Arsene Wenger yet again put Premier League disappointment aside to hoist a trophy?
EFL Cup Final preview: Arsenal, Manchester City fight for different types of glory
Can Pep Guardiola finally earn a piece of hardware in the English top flight, or will Arsene Wenger yet again put Premier League disappointment aside to hoist a trophy?
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has not raised the bar in football, according to Arsene Wenger.
He hasn't raised the bar – Wenger plays down Guardiola success
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has not raised the bar in football, according to Arsene Wenger.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will be eager to get his hands on a trophy, even if it would have been fourth on the list of his priorities when the campaign began
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will be eager to get his hands on a trophy, even if it would have been fourth on the list of his priorities when the campaign began
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will be eager to get his hands on a trophy, even if it would have been fourth on the list of his priorities when the campaign began
Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus could make a shock return at Wembley after being out with a knee injury since the end of December (AFP Photo/Glyn KIRK )
Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus could make a shock return at Wembley after being out with a knee injury since the end of December
Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus could make a shock return at Wembley after being out with a knee injury since the end of December (AFP Photo/Glyn KIRK )
Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus could make a shock return at Wembley after being out with a knee injury since the end of December
Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus could make a shock return at Wembley after being out with a knee injury since the end of December
Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus could make a shock return at Wembley after being out with a knee injury since the end of December
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will be eager to get his hands on a trophy, even if it would have been fourth on the list of his priorities when the campaign began (AFP Photo/Oli SCARFF )
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will be eager to get his hands on a trophy, even if it would have been fourth on the list of his priorities when the campaign began
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will be eager to get his hands on a trophy, even if it would have been fourth on the list of his priorities when the campaign began (AFP Photo/Oli SCARFF )
Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
Arsene Wenger dismisses idea that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management
Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
Oleksandr Zinchenko has been given a small but important role in Manchester City’s formidable season although the Ukraine international, who is set to play in the League Cup final against Arsenal on Sunday, notes that he is often mistaken for someone much more famous. It is that distinctive fair hair that causes some to confuse him with the side’s leading player Kevin De Bruyne and there has been more than one misunderstanding, he says, since he became a member of Pep Guardiola’s first team squad this season. “I've heard it all the time, trust me,” says Zinchenko. “Everyone calls me 'Kev'. When I'm getting the bus, the fans are shouting 'Kev, can I have a picture?' Then I turn and they're like ‘Oh, it's not Kevin’. “From afar maybe we look like twins, but when we are together, I don't think so. I am more beautiful than him, definitely.” “From afar maybe we look like twins... but I am more beautiful" Credit: Getty A sense of humour required, and a sense of perspective for a 21-year-old making his way slowly but surely in the Premier League’s most formidable team. The serious injury to Benjamin Mendy gave Zinchenko a chance to stake a claim at left-back and having played in the three previous rounds of the EFL Cup, he should start against Arsenal at Wembley with Fabien Delph suspended. As a converted wing-back who cost less than £2 million from the Russian Premier League side FC Ufa in the summer of 2016, he is one of City’s less expensive acquisitions. His career began at Shakhtar Donetsk but ended in dispute when, as a teenager, he asked to leave and was held to his contract. With the war in the Ukraine coming, his parents moved to the Russian city of Ufa when he was 16 and once there his contract with Shakhtar prevented him from signing for Rubin Kazan – a stand-off that stopped Zinchenko playing for 18 months before he joined Ufa. “In Shakhtar, the situation was very difficult for me. I had two years left on my contract and they told me I had to continue with them. My dream was to play in the first team but you can imagine how difficult that was then because their team was Fernandinho, Douglas Costa, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan. It was an unbelievable team. "For the Ukrainian guys it was very difficult to break into the team I said to them not to worry that I would be there for two more years. They said if you don’t want to sign, you cannot play for us, even for the youth team. So for about four months, I just ran around the pitch for every training session. I didn’t play. I was exiled on my own. "Then the season finished and we moved because the situation was very difficult in Ukraine because of the war. That’s why my parents moved." Zinchenko says it is hard for Ukraine players to make the leap to the Premier League Credit: AFP/Getty Images Andrei Shevchenko, the country’s greatest footballer of modern times, and Zinchenko’s hero, told him the Premier League would be tough and that he had to compete in training every day. Zinchenko is passionate about what he regards as the untapped talent in Ukraine, a consequence, he says of the unwillingness of clubs to let players go and an attendant lack of confidence in those footballers. “Two years ago they [Shakhtar] lost the Uefa Youth League Under-19 final to Chelsea. This is my age-group, my team, born in 1996, I know everyone there because I played with them for five years. They are huge talents. Trust me, everyone is good enough to play in Europe but they have long contracts with Shakhtar or Dynamo Kiev and they cannot move. Maybe they want to they cannot because the clubs close block the way." He played on loan last season at PSV Eindhoven which helped him adapt to life in western Europe, and he confesses to one culture shock in particular. “In Holland, everyone can sauna together - both women and men - and everyone is naked. For us, it's very, very strange. In Ukraine and Russia, it's not possible. Nobody understands it when I talk about this in Ukraine and Russia. It's strange when you see the son, maybe seven years old, his mum, his grandmother, grandfather - all together naked. Come on now. It's about mentality. That's what I mean. I'm learning every day.” Zinchenko has already had a hard road to the Premier League – war, contract disputes, sauna surprises – but he is a tough character. “One per cent talent, 99 per cent hard work” is his view of what it takes, although you do have to be good to play for Guardiola. He would like to see more Ukrainians make the leap but says it is harder than people think. “I keep in touch with Andrei Yarmolenko who plays for Dortmund. I've asked what the most difficult part of it is and of course it's the language. You are more comfortable when you can talk with your team-mates, joke with them. If you just sit in silence, it's very difficult. I think people are scared to move over here.”
Oleksandr Zinchenko on the hard journey he has taken to Man City - and being mistaken for team-mate 'Kev'
Oleksandr Zinchenko has been given a small but important role in Manchester City’s formidable season although the Ukraine international, who is set to play in the League Cup final against Arsenal on Sunday, notes that he is often mistaken for someone much more famous. It is that distinctive fair hair that causes some to confuse him with the side’s leading player Kevin De Bruyne and there has been more than one misunderstanding, he says, since he became a member of Pep Guardiola’s first team squad this season. “I've heard it all the time, trust me,” says Zinchenko. “Everyone calls me 'Kev'. When I'm getting the bus, the fans are shouting 'Kev, can I have a picture?' Then I turn and they're like ‘Oh, it's not Kevin’. “From afar maybe we look like twins, but when we are together, I don't think so. I am more beautiful than him, definitely.” “From afar maybe we look like twins... but I am more beautiful" Credit: Getty A sense of humour required, and a sense of perspective for a 21-year-old making his way slowly but surely in the Premier League’s most formidable team. The serious injury to Benjamin Mendy gave Zinchenko a chance to stake a claim at left-back and having played in the three previous rounds of the EFL Cup, he should start against Arsenal at Wembley with Fabien Delph suspended. As a converted wing-back who cost less than £2 million from the Russian Premier League side FC Ufa in the summer of 2016, he is one of City’s less expensive acquisitions. His career began at Shakhtar Donetsk but ended in dispute when, as a teenager, he asked to leave and was held to his contract. With the war in the Ukraine coming, his parents moved to the Russian city of Ufa when he was 16 and once there his contract with Shakhtar prevented him from signing for Rubin Kazan – a stand-off that stopped Zinchenko playing for 18 months before he joined Ufa. “In Shakhtar, the situation was very difficult for me. I had two years left on my contract and they told me I had to continue with them. My dream was to play in the first team but you can imagine how difficult that was then because their team was Fernandinho, Douglas Costa, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan. It was an unbelievable team. "For the Ukrainian guys it was very difficult to break into the team I said to them not to worry that I would be there for two more years. They said if you don’t want to sign, you cannot play for us, even for the youth team. So for about four months, I just ran around the pitch for every training session. I didn’t play. I was exiled on my own. "Then the season finished and we moved because the situation was very difficult in Ukraine because of the war. That’s why my parents moved." Zinchenko says it is hard for Ukraine players to make the leap to the Premier League Credit: AFP/Getty Images Andrei Shevchenko, the country’s greatest footballer of modern times, and Zinchenko’s hero, told him the Premier League would be tough and that he had to compete in training every day. Zinchenko is passionate about what he regards as the untapped talent in Ukraine, a consequence, he says of the unwillingness of clubs to let players go and an attendant lack of confidence in those footballers. “Two years ago they [Shakhtar] lost the Uefa Youth League Under-19 final to Chelsea. This is my age-group, my team, born in 1996, I know everyone there because I played with them for five years. They are huge talents. Trust me, everyone is good enough to play in Europe but they have long contracts with Shakhtar or Dynamo Kiev and they cannot move. Maybe they want to they cannot because the clubs close block the way." He played on loan last season at PSV Eindhoven which helped him adapt to life in western Europe, and he confesses to one culture shock in particular. “In Holland, everyone can sauna together - both women and men - and everyone is naked. For us, it's very, very strange. In Ukraine and Russia, it's not possible. Nobody understands it when I talk about this in Ukraine and Russia. It's strange when you see the son, maybe seven years old, his mum, his grandmother, grandfather - all together naked. Come on now. It's about mentality. That's what I mean. I'm learning every day.” Zinchenko has already had a hard road to the Premier League – war, contract disputes, sauna surprises – but he is a tough character. “One per cent talent, 99 per cent hard work” is his view of what it takes, although you do have to be good to play for Guardiola. He would like to see more Ukrainians make the leap but says it is harder than people think. “I keep in touch with Andrei Yarmolenko who plays for Dortmund. I've asked what the most difficult part of it is and of course it's the language. You are more comfortable when you can talk with your team-mates, joke with them. If you just sit in silence, it's very difficult. I think people are scared to move over here.”
Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
Arsene Wenger dismisses idea that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management
Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
Oleksandr Zinchenko has been given a small but important role in Manchester City’s formidable season although the Ukraine international, who is set to play in the League Cup final against Arsenal on Sunday, notes that he is often mistaken for someone much more famous. It is that distinctive fair hair that causes some to confuse him with the side’s leading player Kevin De Bruyne and there has been more than one misunderstanding, he says, since he became a member of Pep Guardiola’s first team squad this season. “I've heard it all the time, trust me,” says Zinchenko. “Everyone calls me 'Kev'. When I'm getting the bus, the fans are shouting 'Kev, can I have a picture?' Then I turn and they're like ‘Oh, it's not Kevin’. “From afar maybe we look like twins, but when we are together, I don't think so. I am more beautiful than him, definitely.” “From afar maybe we look like twins... but I am more beautiful" Credit: Getty A sense of humour required, and a sense of perspective for a 21-year-old making his way slowly but surely in the Premier League’s most formidable team. The serious injury to Benjamin Mendy gave Zinchenko a chance to stake a claim at left-back and having played in the three previous rounds of the EFL Cup, he should start against Arsenal at Wembley with Fabien Delph suspended. As a converted wing-back who cost less than £2 million from the Russian Premier League side FC Ufa in the summer of 2016, he is one of City’s less expensive acquisitions. His career began at Shakhtar Donetsk but ended in dispute when, as a teenager, he asked to leave and was held to his contract. With the war in the Ukraine coming, his parents moved to the Russian city of Ufa when he was 16 and once there his contract with Shakhtar prevented him from signing for Rubin Kazan – a stand-off that stopped Zinchenko playing for 18 months before he joined Ufa. “In Shakhtar, the situation was very difficult for me. I had two years left on my contract and they told me I had to continue with them. My dream was to play in the first team but you can imagine how difficult that was then because their team was Fernandinho, Douglas Costa, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan. It was an unbelievable team. "For the Ukrainian guys it was very difficult to break into the team I said to them not to worry that I would be there for two more years. They said if you don’t want to sign, you cannot play for us, even for the youth team. So for about four months, I just ran around the pitch for every training session. I didn’t play. I was exiled on my own. "Then the season finished and we moved because the situation was very difficult in Ukraine because of the war. That’s why my parents moved." Zinchenko says it is hard for Ukraine players to make the leap to the Premier League Credit: AFP/Getty Images Andrei Shevchenko, the country’s greatest footballer of modern times, and Zinchenko’s hero, told him the Premier League would be tough and that he had to compete in training every day. Zinchenko is passionate about what he regards as the untapped talent in Ukraine, a consequence, he says of the unwillingness of clubs to let players go and an attendant lack of confidence in those footballers. “Two years ago they [Shakhtar] lost the Uefa Youth League Under-19 final to Chelsea. This is my age-group, my team, born in 1996, I know everyone there because I played with them for five years. They are huge talents. Trust me, everyone is good enough to play in Europe but they have long contracts with Shakhtar or Dynamo Kiev and they cannot move. Maybe they want to they cannot because the clubs close block the way." He played on loan last season at PSV Eindhoven which helped him adapt to life in western Europe, and he confesses to one culture shock in particular. “In Holland, everyone can sauna together - both women and men - and everyone is naked. For us, it's very, very strange. In Ukraine and Russia, it's not possible. Nobody understands it when I talk about this in Ukraine and Russia. It's strange when you see the son, maybe seven years old, his mum, his grandmother, grandfather - all together naked. Come on now. It's about mentality. That's what I mean. I'm learning every day.” Zinchenko has already had a hard road to the Premier League – war, contract disputes, sauna surprises – but he is a tough character. “One per cent talent, 99 per cent hard work” is his view of what it takes, although you do have to be good to play for Guardiola. He would like to see more Ukrainians make the leap but says it is harder than people think. “I keep in touch with Andrei Yarmolenko who plays for Dortmund. I've asked what the most difficult part of it is and of course it's the language. You are more comfortable when you can talk with your team-mates, joke with them. If you just sit in silence, it's very difficult. I think people are scared to move over here.”
Oleksandr Zinchenko on the hard journey he has taken to Man City - and being mistaken for team-mate 'Kev'
Oleksandr Zinchenko has been given a small but important role in Manchester City’s formidable season although the Ukraine international, who is set to play in the League Cup final against Arsenal on Sunday, notes that he is often mistaken for someone much more famous. It is that distinctive fair hair that causes some to confuse him with the side’s leading player Kevin De Bruyne and there has been more than one misunderstanding, he says, since he became a member of Pep Guardiola’s first team squad this season. “I've heard it all the time, trust me,” says Zinchenko. “Everyone calls me 'Kev'. When I'm getting the bus, the fans are shouting 'Kev, can I have a picture?' Then I turn and they're like ‘Oh, it's not Kevin’. “From afar maybe we look like twins, but when we are together, I don't think so. I am more beautiful than him, definitely.” “From afar maybe we look like twins... but I am more beautiful" Credit: Getty A sense of humour required, and a sense of perspective for a 21-year-old making his way slowly but surely in the Premier League’s most formidable team. The serious injury to Benjamin Mendy gave Zinchenko a chance to stake a claim at left-back and having played in the three previous rounds of the EFL Cup, he should start against Arsenal at Wembley with Fabien Delph suspended. As a converted wing-back who cost less than £2 million from the Russian Premier League side FC Ufa in the summer of 2016, he is one of City’s less expensive acquisitions. His career began at Shakhtar Donetsk but ended in dispute when, as a teenager, he asked to leave and was held to his contract. With the war in the Ukraine coming, his parents moved to the Russian city of Ufa when he was 16 and once there his contract with Shakhtar prevented him from signing for Rubin Kazan – a stand-off that stopped Zinchenko playing for 18 months before he joined Ufa. “In Shakhtar, the situation was very difficult for me. I had two years left on my contract and they told me I had to continue with them. My dream was to play in the first team but you can imagine how difficult that was then because their team was Fernandinho, Douglas Costa, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan. It was an unbelievable team. "For the Ukrainian guys it was very difficult to break into the team I said to them not to worry that I would be there for two more years. They said if you don’t want to sign, you cannot play for us, even for the youth team. So for about four months, I just ran around the pitch for every training session. I didn’t play. I was exiled on my own. "Then the season finished and we moved because the situation was very difficult in Ukraine because of the war. That’s why my parents moved." Zinchenko says it is hard for Ukraine players to make the leap to the Premier League Credit: AFP/Getty Images Andrei Shevchenko, the country’s greatest footballer of modern times, and Zinchenko’s hero, told him the Premier League would be tough and that he had to compete in training every day. Zinchenko is passionate about what he regards as the untapped talent in Ukraine, a consequence, he says of the unwillingness of clubs to let players go and an attendant lack of confidence in those footballers. “Two years ago they [Shakhtar] lost the Uefa Youth League Under-19 final to Chelsea. This is my age-group, my team, born in 1996, I know everyone there because I played with them for five years. They are huge talents. Trust me, everyone is good enough to play in Europe but they have long contracts with Shakhtar or Dynamo Kiev and they cannot move. Maybe they want to they cannot because the clubs close block the way." He played on loan last season at PSV Eindhoven which helped him adapt to life in western Europe, and he confesses to one culture shock in particular. “In Holland, everyone can sauna together - both women and men - and everyone is naked. For us, it's very, very strange. In Ukraine and Russia, it's not possible. Nobody understands it when I talk about this in Ukraine and Russia. It's strange when you see the son, maybe seven years old, his mum, his grandmother, grandfather - all together naked. Come on now. It's about mentality. That's what I mean. I'm learning every day.” Zinchenko has already had a hard road to the Premier League – war, contract disputes, sauna surprises – but he is a tough character. “One per cent talent, 99 per cent hard work” is his view of what it takes, although you do have to be good to play for Guardiola. He would like to see more Ukrainians make the leap but says it is harder than people think. “I keep in touch with Andrei Yarmolenko who plays for Dortmund. I've asked what the most difficult part of it is and of course it's the language. You are more comfortable when you can talk with your team-mates, joke with them. If you just sit in silence, it's very difficult. I think people are scared to move over here.”
Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
Arsene Wenger dismisses idea that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management
Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
Oleksandr Zinchenko has been given a small but important role in Manchester City’s formidable season although the Ukraine international, who is set to play in the League Cup final against Arsenal on Sunday, notes that he is often mistaken for someone much more famous. It is that distinctive fair hair that causes some to confuse him with the side’s leading player Kevin De Bruyne and there has been more than one misunderstanding, he says, since he became a member of Pep Guardiola’s first team squad this season. “I've heard it all the time, trust me,” says Zinchenko. “Everyone calls me 'Kev'. When I'm getting the bus, the fans are shouting 'Kev, can I have a picture?' Then I turn and they're like ‘Oh, it's not Kevin’. “From afar maybe we look like twins, but when we are together, I don't think so. I am more beautiful than him, definitely.” “From afar maybe we look like twins... but I am more beautiful" Credit: Getty A sense of humour required, and a sense of perspective for a 21-year-old making his way slowly but surely in the Premier League’s most formidable team. The serious injury to Benjamin Mendy gave Zinchenko a chance to stake a claim at left-back and having played in the three previous rounds of the EFL Cup, he should start against Arsenal at Wembley with Fabien Delph suspended. As a converted wing-back who cost less than £2 million from the Russian Premier League side FC Ufa in the summer of 2016, he is one of City’s less expensive acquisitions. His career began at Shakhtar Donetsk but ended in dispute when, as a teenager, he asked to leave and was held to his contract. With the war in the Ukraine coming, his parents moved to the Russian city of Ufa when he was 16 and once there his contract with Shakhtar prevented him from signing for Rubin Kazan – a stand-off that stopped Zinchenko playing for 18 months before he joined Ufa. “In Shakhtar, the situation was very difficult for me. I had two years left on my contract and they told me I had to continue with them. My dream was to play in the first team but you can imagine how difficult that was then because their team was Fernandinho, Douglas Costa, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan. It was an unbelievable team. "For the Ukrainian guys it was very difficult to break into the team I said to them not to worry that I would be there for two more years. They said if you don’t want to sign, you cannot play for us, even for the youth team. So for about four months, I just ran around the pitch for every training session. I didn’t play. I was exiled on my own. "Then the season finished and we moved because the situation was very difficult in Ukraine because of the war. That’s why my parents moved." Zinchenko says it is hard for Ukraine players to make the leap to the Premier League Credit: AFP/Getty Images Andrei Shevchenko, the country’s greatest footballer of modern times, and Zinchenko’s hero, told him the Premier League would be tough and that he had to compete in training every day. Zinchenko is passionate about what he regards as the untapped talent in Ukraine, a consequence, he says of the unwillingness of clubs to let players go and an attendant lack of confidence in those footballers. “Two years ago they [Shakhtar] lost the Uefa Youth League Under-19 final to Chelsea. This is my age-group, my team, born in 1996, I know everyone there because I played with them for five years. They are huge talents. Trust me, everyone is good enough to play in Europe but they have long contracts with Shakhtar or Dynamo Kiev and they cannot move. Maybe they want to they cannot because the clubs close block the way." He played on loan last season at PSV Eindhoven which helped him adapt to life in western Europe, and he confesses to one culture shock in particular. “In Holland, everyone can sauna together - both women and men - and everyone is naked. For us, it's very, very strange. In Ukraine and Russia, it's not possible. Nobody understands it when I talk about this in Ukraine and Russia. It's strange when you see the son, maybe seven years old, his mum, his grandmother, grandfather - all together naked. Come on now. It's about mentality. That's what I mean. I'm learning every day.” Zinchenko has already had a hard road to the Premier League – war, contract disputes, sauna surprises – but he is a tough character. “One per cent talent, 99 per cent hard work” is his view of what it takes, although you do have to be good to play for Guardiola. He would like to see more Ukrainians make the leap but says it is harder than people think. “I keep in touch with Andrei Yarmolenko who plays for Dortmund. I've asked what the most difficult part of it is and of course it's the language. You are more comfortable when you can talk with your team-mates, joke with them. If you just sit in silence, it's very difficult. I think people are scared to move over here.”
Oleksandr Zinchenko on the hard journey he has taken to Man City - and being mistaken for team-mate 'Kev'
Oleksandr Zinchenko has been given a small but important role in Manchester City’s formidable season although the Ukraine international, who is set to play in the League Cup final against Arsenal on Sunday, notes that he is often mistaken for someone much more famous. It is that distinctive fair hair that causes some to confuse him with the side’s leading player Kevin De Bruyne and there has been more than one misunderstanding, he says, since he became a member of Pep Guardiola’s first team squad this season. “I've heard it all the time, trust me,” says Zinchenko. “Everyone calls me 'Kev'. When I'm getting the bus, the fans are shouting 'Kev, can I have a picture?' Then I turn and they're like ‘Oh, it's not Kevin’. “From afar maybe we look like twins, but when we are together, I don't think so. I am more beautiful than him, definitely.” “From afar maybe we look like twins... but I am more beautiful" Credit: Getty A sense of humour required, and a sense of perspective for a 21-year-old making his way slowly but surely in the Premier League’s most formidable team. The serious injury to Benjamin Mendy gave Zinchenko a chance to stake a claim at left-back and having played in the three previous rounds of the EFL Cup, he should start against Arsenal at Wembley with Fabien Delph suspended. As a converted wing-back who cost less than £2 million from the Russian Premier League side FC Ufa in the summer of 2016, he is one of City’s less expensive acquisitions. His career began at Shakhtar Donetsk but ended in dispute when, as a teenager, he asked to leave and was held to his contract. With the war in the Ukraine coming, his parents moved to the Russian city of Ufa when he was 16 and once there his contract with Shakhtar prevented him from signing for Rubin Kazan – a stand-off that stopped Zinchenko playing for 18 months before he joined Ufa. “In Shakhtar, the situation was very difficult for me. I had two years left on my contract and they told me I had to continue with them. My dream was to play in the first team but you can imagine how difficult that was then because their team was Fernandinho, Douglas Costa, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan. It was an unbelievable team. "For the Ukrainian guys it was very difficult to break into the team I said to them not to worry that I would be there for two more years. They said if you don’t want to sign, you cannot play for us, even for the youth team. So for about four months, I just ran around the pitch for every training session. I didn’t play. I was exiled on my own. "Then the season finished and we moved because the situation was very difficult in Ukraine because of the war. That’s why my parents moved." Zinchenko says it is hard for Ukraine players to make the leap to the Premier League Credit: AFP/Getty Images Andrei Shevchenko, the country’s greatest footballer of modern times, and Zinchenko’s hero, told him the Premier League would be tough and that he had to compete in training every day. Zinchenko is passionate about what he regards as the untapped talent in Ukraine, a consequence, he says of the unwillingness of clubs to let players go and an attendant lack of confidence in those footballers. “Two years ago they [Shakhtar] lost the Uefa Youth League Under-19 final to Chelsea. This is my age-group, my team, born in 1996, I know everyone there because I played with them for five years. They are huge talents. Trust me, everyone is good enough to play in Europe but they have long contracts with Shakhtar or Dynamo Kiev and they cannot move. Maybe they want to they cannot because the clubs close block the way." He played on loan last season at PSV Eindhoven which helped him adapt to life in western Europe, and he confesses to one culture shock in particular. “In Holland, everyone can sauna together - both women and men - and everyone is naked. For us, it's very, very strange. In Ukraine and Russia, it's not possible. Nobody understands it when I talk about this in Ukraine and Russia. It's strange when you see the son, maybe seven years old, his mum, his grandmother, grandfather - all together naked. Come on now. It's about mentality. That's what I mean. I'm learning every day.” Zinchenko has already had a hard road to the Premier League – war, contract disputes, sauna surprises – but he is a tough character. “One per cent talent, 99 per cent hard work” is his view of what it takes, although you do have to be good to play for Guardiola. He would like to see more Ukrainians make the leap but says it is harder than people think. “I keep in touch with Andrei Yarmolenko who plays for Dortmund. I've asked what the most difficult part of it is and of course it's the language. You are more comfortable when you can talk with your team-mates, joke with them. If you just sit in silence, it's very difficult. I think people are scared to move over here.”
Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
Arsene Wenger dismisses idea that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management
Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
Arsène Wenger believes Arsenal will have to raise their game if they are to beat Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final.
Wenger accepts underdog status but denies Guardiola has raised the bar
Arsène Wenger believes Arsenal will have to raise their game if they are to beat Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final.
<p>Manchester City or Arsenal? Kolo Toure picks Carabao Cup champions</p>
Manchester City or Arsenal? Kolo Toure picks Carabao Cup champions

Manchester City or Arsenal? Kolo Toure picks Carabao Cup champions

The Gunners and the Citizens will go up against each other for their first title in the 2017-18 English league season
Manchester City or Arsenal? Kolo Toure picks Carabao Cup champions
The Gunners and the Citizens will go up against each other for their first title in the 2017-18 English league season
The Gunners and the Citizens will go up against each other for their first title in the 2017-18 English league season
Manchester City or Arsenal? Kolo Toure picks Carabao Cup champions
The Gunners and the Citizens will go up against each other for their first title in the 2017-18 English league season
<p>Manchester City or Arsenal? Kolo Toure picks Carabao Cup champions</p>
Manchester City or Arsenal? Kolo Toure picks Carabao Cup champions

Manchester City or Arsenal? Kolo Toure picks Carabao Cup champions

More Manchester City Women and Chelsea Ladies face off on Saturday in one of the season&#39;s biggest matches. The teams share the two top spots in the Women&#39;s Super League 1 table, with Chelsea just one point ahead of their rivals heading into the weekend, and the title looks set to head either to Manchester or London. Here&#39;s everything you need to know about the match as both sides look to take control of the title race. Previous Encounter Chelsea are one of two teams to have stopped City winning...
Man City Women vs Chelsea Ladies Preview: Previous Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More
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Man City Women vs Chelsea Ladies Preview: Previous Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More
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More Manchester City Women and Chelsea Ladies face off on Saturday in one of the season&#39;s biggest matches. The teams share the two top spots in the Women&#39;s Super League 1 table, with Chelsea just one point ahead of their rivals heading into the weekend, and the title looks set to head either to Manchester or London. Here&#39;s everything you need to know about the match as both sides look to take control of the title race. Previous Encounter Chelsea are one of two teams to have stopped City winning...
Man City Women vs Chelsea Ladies Preview: Previous Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More
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<p>Manchester City or Arsenal? Kolo Toure picks Carabao Cup champions</p>
Manchester City or Arsenal? Kolo Toure picks Carabao Cup champions

Manchester City or Arsenal? Kolo Toure picks Carabao Cup champions

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