Arsenal’s season goes from bad to worse as they were sent crashing out of the League Cup at the quarter-final stage after a humbling 4-1 home defeat to Manchester City.
City dominated from the off, as they often do, with Gabriel Jesus pouncing to head his side in front inside three minutes with his first goal in 609 minutes in all competitions for City.
The Gunners were offering very little in response until Gabriel Martinelli, making his first start for Arsenal since April, crossed for Alexandre Lacazette to head home in the 31st minute.
The match was snatched away from the Gunners in the blink of an eye in the second half, as an horrendous error from Arsenal stand-in goalkeeper Runar Runarsson allowed Riyad Mahrez to get City back in front in the 54th minute, before Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte made sure of the cup holders’ progression to the last four, as they stretched their unbeaten run in the competition to an incredible 18 matches.
Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City celebrates after scoring their team's first goal during the Carabao Cup Quarter Final match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium
Image credit: Getty Images
Both managers made wholesale changes from their weekend games, but Pep Guardiola was still able to bring in some real quality, with two returning players – Oleksandr Zinchenko and Jesus – combining to get the struggling Gunners off to the worst possible start.
Arsenal looked every inch a 15th-placed Premier League team, in need of inspiration. That came in the form of Martinelli as he brilliantly set up Lacazette for his fifth of the season, before Runarsson got over his shaky start to brilliantly deny Jesus just before half time.
Martinelli picked up what appeared to be an ankle injury before half time, but came back out for the second half. He lasted all of three minutes before limping off. And that was that in terms of Arsenal offering anything in the match.
Runarsson, who did not cover himself in glory for Jesus’ opener, inexplicably let Mahrez’s free-kick slip right through his hands, when it was straight at him, and City never looked back with Foden’s finish five minutes later a delight, before the 'Stockport Iniesta' crossed for Laporte to put the game to bed and pile more misery on Arsenal and their beleaguered manager.
TALKING POINT – Can Arsenal’s season get any worse?
As soon as Gabriel Jesus headed City in front, Arsenal’s heads dropped, and they showed the merest suggestion of any fight to try to get back into the match.
The only reason they managed level things up was down to their only bright light – Martinelli – and as he departed, so did their chances of winning.
One win in 10 league games, out of the League Cup, and showing no sign of life. Arsenal are in real peril, and this will take a monumental turnaround to salvage even a remotely respectable season.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Phil Foden
We all question Pep Guardiola for his sporadic use of Foden, but perhaps the Spaniard does know what he is doing. Another super performance from the England midfielder. His goal was taken expertly, while his cross for Laporte’s goal was an art form in its execution.
Arsenal: Runarsson 4, Mustafi 3, Gabriel 6, Kolasinac 5, Maitland-Niles 6, Elneny 6, Ceballos 6, Cedric 5, Willock 5, Lacazette 6, Martinelli 7... Subs: Smith Rowe 6, Pepe 6, Balogun 6.
Man City: Steffen 7, Cancelo 7, Dias 7, Laporte 7, Zinchenko 6, Rodrigo 6, Fernandinho 7, Bernardo 6, Mahrez 8, Foden 8, Jesus 7... Subs: Walker 6, Aguero 6, Torres 6.
3’ - GGGGGGOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLL!!!! Arsenal 0-1 Man City. What a start for City, as Jesus puts the holders ahead inside three minutes! Simple goal, really. Oleksandr Zinchenko with the cross from the left, Jesus gets across his man, and heads home at the near post. Not what Arsenal needed.
31’ - GGGGOOOOOAAALLLLLL!!! Arsenal 1-1 Man City. A goal out of the blue, and just what Arsenal needed. Lacazette with the header. All about the work from Martinelli in creating space for the cross before clipping the ball in for Lacazette, with the Frenchman heading home with aplomb, into the top corner.
41’- SAVE! What a stop from Runarsson! Foden cannot control but inadvertently allows the ball to run through for Jesus, who is clean through, but is denied by a brilliant stop from the Arsenal 'keeper.
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55’ - GGGGGGOOOOOAAAALLLLL!!! Arsenal 1-2 Man City. Oh no, nightmare for Runarsson as he lets Mahrez's free-kick through his hands as City lead again. Is Runarsson ready for these kinds of games? He doesn't look it. That is an awful error, Mahrez's free-kick was right at him.
59’ - GGGGOOOOOAAALLLLL!!!! Arsenal 1-3 Man City. Delightful from Foden as he puts City on the brink of last four. Replays suggest that may have been offside, but again no VAR here! Fernandinho with the pass after a swift City break, with Foden's fifth of the season a real eye-pleasing lofted finish. Game over?
73’ - GGGGOOOOOAAAAAALLLLL!!!! Arsenal 1-4 Man City. Laporte heads home City's fourth as Arsenal's evening continues to get worse. Foden turns provider this time with a sumptuous cross, which Laporte, who had stayed up after a corner, cannot miss with a close-range header.
Arsenal (14) have been eliminated from the quarter-final stage of the League Cup more times than any other side in the competition’s history.
Arsenal conceded at least four times at home in a League Cup encounter for the first time since November 1998 under Arsène Wenger (0-5 v Chelsea).
Manchester City are the first team to win four consecutive away games against Arsenal in all competitions since Chelsea between 1960 and 1965 (six in a row).
Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez has scored his fifth direct free-kick in all competitions in English football and first since netting vs Everton in the Premier League in September 2019.
Manchester City’s Phil Foden has had a hand in nine goals in his last 12 League Cup appearances (four goals, five assists).
72% of Alexandre Lacazette’s goals in all competitions for Arsenal have been scored at the Emirates (38 of 53).