Paul Cook, who was once the drummer in the Sex Pistols, led his Wigan side to victory over Manchester City in the battle of the baldie managers on Monday night. City can no longer win the quadruple, so Pep Guardiola must obviously be a complete fraud.
De Bruyne: £68m
Losing to League One Wigan: Pretty f*cking funny
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) February 19, 2018
Perhaps the Citizens can enter something else to help their trophy count? As Leroy Sané has been booked for simulation the joint-most times in the Premier League since the start of last season, how about a diving tournament?
They’ll probably just stick to football, and they’re hot favourites to lift the Carabao Cup on Sunday. Pep’s pups are priced at just 1/2 to win in 90 minutes and if we’re all honest, it’s what we expect to see. Even if you hadn’t seen both teams play in 2017/18, a glance at the big six mini league from the start of last season onwards would probably convince you.
But they don’t call Arsene Wenger the managerial limpet for nothing. Or at all, if I’m honest. The Frenchman has stoically clung to the Arsenal job in recent years in part thanks to his knack of winning domestic cups. They’ve done it the hard way too, by beating Manchester City and Chelsea to win the FA Cup last year, and Chelsea to get to the Qarabag final this season.
So why do the Gunners win big games in cups but not in the league?
Probably to keep Arsenal Fan TV in business, and to keep Hector Bellerin’s university lecture tour on the road. Perhaps Mickey Pearce has been the true brains of the operation all along?
Anyway, Paddy obviously thinks this will pan out more like a league game for Arsenal, as their odds of winning in normal time are 4/1. However, they do have a decent record against City when not playing in Manchester, with three wins and three draws in the last six meetings. As long as you count the Community shield as a real match, that is; Jose Mourinho definitely does when he wins it, so Arsenal might as well too.
Whoever ultimately wins, history suggests we can expect goals. The Caribou Cup has a reputation for being more entertaining than it’s stuffier brother the FA Cup, and the last ten finals have seen at least three goals and/or both teams scoring seven times.
Another look at the stats for the league matches between the Premier League’s big boys also shows these sides have featured in the most matches where both teams score and there have been plenty of goals.
If you want a final fact to help you make up your mind, the last five league meetings of these teams tick both of these boxes. Over 2.5 goals and both teams to score share the same price of 8/15, and I would suggest you have a flutter on both.
These teams also lead the Premier League for the last 18 months when it comes to matches with over 3.5 goals. Cup finals between two evenly matched teams (I’m being generous here, Arsenal fans) don’t tend to have that many goals, but Paddy will give you 5/4 if you think otherwise.
There might be goals, but I’ll be ignoring the 9/4 odds that there will be a penalty.
Craig Pawson is the referee for this match, and of the current Premier League refs with a ton of games to their name, he gives penalties the least often. Pawson has taken charge of 11 Arsenal matches to date, and has never pointed to the spot at either end of the pitch.
You would think Gooners wouldn’t be a fan of him for their lack of penalties, yet it’s City fans who dislike him more. The Yorkshire-born ref took charge of last season’s FA Cup semi-final between the teams, and ruled out a City goal when he erroneously adjudged that Sané’s cross had gone out of play in the build up.
If I were going to the match, I’d be more concerned I wouldn’t get home in time to see what makes Claire Danes cry in Homeland this week. VAR will be in place for the final, and after Pawson’s efforts with the robot ref in the Liverpool-West Brom FA Cup match, I wouldn’t make any plans for Sunday night if I were you.
Still, Paddy will pay you out if VAR rules your selection’s goal out, so the ref can’t spoil our fun entirely. Who should we have a flutter on in the scorer markets this week?
It’s no surprise to see Sergio Agüero at the front of the queue. The Argentine is 7/2 to score first, or just 10/11 to add his name and his umlaut to the score sheet. He has seven goals in 12 appearances against the Gunners in total, and has found the net in each of his last four meetings with the Wenger boys. Since the teams last played, Agüero has scored 19 goals in 22 matches, so he’s the form scorer here.
Someone who hasn’t scored much but is perhaps due to is Kevin de Bruyne. Tintin’s son has only scored once in his last nine league matches, but has had 32 shots along the way. With the helping hand of facing Petr Cech, there’s a good chance he might get a goal here. The will-be-player-of-the-year can be backed at 13/5 to bag a goal, or 9/1 for it to be the first one.
With Alexandre Lacazette injured, Arsenal’s main goal threat will be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He would’ve been either way, in fairness. The former Dortmund man may have scored against Everton but when up against a real team last time out he didn’t do too much.
It was at Wembley, too, and against Tottenham he didn’t have any shots and was caught offside as often as he had a touch in the Spurs box. Plus when push comes to shove, he’s no Will Grigg, is he? Auba is priced at 7/1 to break the deadlock, or 7/4 to score at some point.
My overall prediction is a 2-1 City win, so I’ll be taking the 15/2 odds on offer there. Whoever picks their strongest team will probably come out on top, though. #McClarenKnows
Tips from Steve McClaren on how to win the League Cup final. In fairness, picking your strongest team ins a good start. pic.twitter.com/uBvj8DEARy
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) February 19, 2018