Who should start in goal, VAR and more Arsenal v Man City Carabao Cup final talking points

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Arsenal and Manchester City clash in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.

City manager Pep Guardiola is seeking his first major piece of silverware since coming to England while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is chasing the one domestic trophy he has not won.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at some talking points ahead of the game.

Quadruple gone

City’s bid to land an unprecedented quadruple was shattered on Monday as they crashed to a shock loss to Wigan in the FA Cup. Completing a clean sweep always seemed an improbable ambition but it was becoming increasingly realistic as Guardiola’s side powered on on all fronts.

Having established a 16-point lead at the top of the Premier League and all but qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals, City were not expecting to be derailed by League One opposition. It remains to be seen how they react to the setback but Sunday can still be the springboard for much more success to come.

Manchester City team

Gunners seek reaction

Arsenal also go into the game on the back of a disappointing result having been beaten at home by Swedish minnows Ostersund on Thursday.

Ultimately the defeat was more embarrassing than damaging, given that the Gunners still progressed on aggregate from the Europa League tie, but it should serve as another wake-up call.

Arsenal were also beaten by Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup this season and, having fallen behind in the race for top four places, their hopes of gaining tangible reward from the season could rest on this game.

Arsenal v Ostersunds

Goalkeepers

While both managers have little reason not to field their strongest line-ups they both seem likely to opt for second-choice goalkeepers. This has become common practice in domestic cup competitions and, in Arsenal’s case, in the Europa League.

Guardiola has said he wants to reward Claudio Bravo for some match-winning displays in the early rounds, including penalty shoot-out saves against Wolves and Leicester.

This season has proved, however, that he is not at the same level as regular number one Ederson and his presence does not instill the same confidence in the back line. For Arsenal it may be slightly different given that Petr Cech has not had the best of seasons himself and so David Ospina may feel he deserves a chance.

David Ospina

Wembley payback chance for City

Arsenal have made winning at Wembley a habit in recent seasons having won three of the past four FA Cup finals, successes which also required semi-final victories at the national stadium.

One of those, last season, came against City. On that occasion last April, City again went into the match as favourites but were undone by an Alexis Sanchez strike in extra time having earlier had a goal incorrectly disallowed.

City responded by not losing another game for eight months. Having already outplayed Arsenal once this season, winning 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium in November, they will be confident of revenge.

Manchester City celebrate

VAR

The final will see the highest-profile use yet of the experimental video assistant referee system. Arsenal have some experience of it after it was used for both legs of their semi-final victory over Chelsea but it will be a first for City.

There have been a number of teething problems with how the technology has been implemented in the handful of games picked out for the trial so far and Wembley will be a big test of the protocols.

video assistant referee

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Man City players don't need extra protection claims Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

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Manchester City stars do not need to be afforded the extra protection called for by manager Pep Guardiola, according to Arsene Wenger.

Wenger’s Arsenal meet City in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final with Guardiola going in search of his first silverware in English football.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has been left fuming on more than one occasion after seeing his players hit by a string of dangerous challenges in recent months.

Leroy Sane was forced off at Cardiff having been fouled by Joe Bennett, who was only cautioned but later offered an apology to the Germany international for what was a crude tackle.

Kevin De Bruyne received similar treatment from Jason Puncheon of Crystal Palace while youngster Brahim Diaz was hit by a knee-high challenge from West Brom’s Matt Phillips – with both opposing players picking up bookings as a result.

Those decisions formed part of a letter which Manchester City sent to the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the body responsible for referees, reporting a total of nine challenges they felt had not been sufficiently punished.

Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City

Guardiola spoke after Sane picked up an injury in the challenge from Bennett in an FA Cup tie last month and called for players to be better protected.

But Wenger, whose Arsenal side meet City in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final, believes officials must simply apply the letter of the law rather than offering any extra protection.

“I don’t know what it means,” he said when asked about Guardiola’s comments.

“Protection yes, but we just want the referees to respect the rule book.

“It is all in the rules, we don’t need any extra protection. You want the referees to make the right decision, that’s all.

“Pep is maybe concerned by one or two situations where his players were tackled against Wigan on Monday night, which I can understand.

“But you don’t want extra protection, you want protection and that is just by the referee making the right decisions in the situations.”

Wenger has never won the League Cup but can complete a full set of major domestic honours, adding to his three Premier League titles and a record seven FA Cup triumphs, with victory this weekend.

Defeats in the 2007 and 2011 finals are the closest he has come to date but he is hoping it will be third time lucky this weekend.

“Look, when you get to a final, you want to win it,” he said.

“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.”

Preparations for the final were not ideal as a much-changed Arsenal lost 2-1 to Swedish side Ostersund in the Europa League on Thursday night – although they have still progressed into the next round with a 4-2 aggregate win.

The Gunners will now face AC Milan in the last 16 of the continental competition.

Wenger has been boosted by Aaron Ramsey’s recovery from a groin injury which puts him in contention to return, while Mesut Ozil should shake off an illness to be involved and club-record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is available having been ineligible in Europe.

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Arsenal draw AC Milan in Europa League last 16

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Arsenal have been handed a tough Europa League last-16 tie against Italian giants AC Milan.

The Gunners made it into the draw despite losing at home to Swedish side Ostersund on Thursday night – progressing 4-2 on aggregate.

Now they come up against seven-time European Cup winners Milan, who saw off Ludogorets to reach this stage.

Both sides are struggling domestically; Arsenal are sixth in the Premier League while Milan languish seventh in Serie A but have not lost in all competitions since the turn of the year.

The first leg will take place at the San Siro as Gennaro Gattuso looks to mastermind victory over Arsene Wenger’s men.

Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund will face Red Bull Salzburg and Aletico Madrid take on Lokomotiv Moscow.

Lazio meet Dynamo Kiev, RB Leipzig have been drawn against Celtic’s conquerors Zenit St Petersburg, CSKA Moscow face Lyon – who will be hosting this year’s final – while fellow Ligue 1 side Marseille tackle Athletic Bilbao and Sporting Lisbon play Viktoria Plzen.

All opening legs will take place on March 8, with the ties concluding on March 15.

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