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Arsenal are determined to win the Carabao Cup for manager Arsene Wenger, says defender Hector Bellerin.
The Gunners boss has never lifted the trophy during his 21 years in England, and right-back Bellerin says it gives the team an extra incentive to beat Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday.
City go into the match as favourites, sitting 27 points ahead of their opponents in the Premier League.
“We should do it for him,” Bellerin told BBC Radio 5 live.
“The boss has been here for more than 20 years and everyone knows he hasn’t won this competition yet, so it’s another incentive for us.”
City are 15 points clear of nearest rivals Liverpool at the top of the Premier League, and are in the last 16 of the Champions League.
But their hopes of a Quadruple were ended by a 1-0 defeat at Wigan in the FA Cup on Monday.
Bellerin said: “They’re a team that had everything to play for but everyone is beatable, even the best teams in the world.
“Their performances have been great and they have a great team. They have a good defence now too which was one of the things previously that was lacking.
“They have a great team overall but it can be done. If it can be done by Wigan, it can be done by us.
“We have great players too and new players who have come in – we feel stronger than ever.”
First League Cup triumph for 25 years?
Arsenal have not won this competition since 1993, when they beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 at Wembley under George Graham.
The Gunners have beaten Doncaster Rovers, Norwich City, West Ham United and Chelsea to reach the final, and victory over City would salvage a season that has not gone to plan.
They face a battle to finish in the top four of the Premier League and were knocked out of the FA Cup – a competition they won last season – by Nottingham Forest.
On Thursday, they advanced to the Europa League’s last 16 despite losing at home to Swedish side Ostersund.
Wenger has previously used the League Cup to give his younger players experience.
But, with the Gunners so close to a trophy, he will be naming an experienced side at Wembley.
“Manchester City have so many players that you think you have to stop that it is better to focus on the team plan than rather than on any individual,” said Wenger.
“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.”
Win the trophy for the club, not me – Guardiola
City boss Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, has played down the personal significance of his side’s pursuit of silverware.
The Spaniard is potentially 90 minutes away from winning his first major trophy in English football, having won 21 across his spells in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
He said: “I’d like it not for me – for the club. We are here to try to win titles.
“The first step was to arrive in the final. We did it and now will we try to win it.”
Guardiola bemoaned the “wasted energy” of the League Cup earlier in the season.
The 47-year-old still feels the competition puts a heavy burden on English clubs, but it does not detract from his desire to win it.
“Everybody knows here in England it is so demanding,” he said. “All around the world they play three competitions, but here four.
“It’s one of the toughest schedules but if we were not interested in the competition we’d have dropped out in the first game.
“That will not happen. We will play every game to win. We deserve to be in the final and we are going to try to win.”
Guardiola said the final is a good opportunity for is players to get over their defeat by League One Wigan.
He said: “We are now involved in three so we are going, of course, to win.
“The team is stable, it’s been stable all season. The good moments come and there’ll be another one.
“We lost. Congratulations again to Wigan but now we are going to play a final. It is a moment to enjoy and be serious.”
|Guardiola v Wenger – Major managerial trophies|
|Pep Guardiola||Arsene Wenger|
|Barcelona: La Liga (2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11), Copa del Rey (2008-09, 2011-12), Champions League (2008-09, 2010-11)||Monaco: Ligue 1 (1987-88)|
|Bayern Munich: Bundesliga (2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16), German Cup (2013-14, 2015-16)||Arsenal: Premier League (1997-98, 2001-02, 2003-04), FA Cup (1997-98, 2001-02, 2002-03, 2004-05, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2016-17)|
Guardiola aims for more happy Wembley memories
Guardiola has happy memories of Wembley.
The Spaniard was part of the Barcelona side that won the European Cup for the first time in 1992 at the old Wembley.
And he was manager of Barca when they overcame Manchester United at the rebuilt stadium in the 2011 Champions League final.
“It is so special, a magnificent stadium and if you go there it is for something good, as you are in the semi-finals or final,” he said.
This is the first of back-to-back games between City and Arsenal with the two teams meeting again at Emirates Stadium in the league next Thursday (19:45 GMT).
Striker Gabriel Jesus is in contention to make his first appearance of 2018 for City.
The 20-year-old Brazil international suffered a serious knee injury during a goalless draw at Crystal Palace on 31 December.
Winger Raheem Sterling is a doubt with a muscle injury that forced him to miss the Wigan defeat, while Fabian Delph is suspended after being sent off on Monday.
Second-choice goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who has played in every round, will start.
Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey has recovered from a groin injury, while Mesut Ozil should shake off an illness to be involved.
Club-record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is available having been ineligible in the Europa League, while fellow striker Alexandre Lacazette is unavailable and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is ineligible.
Aubameyang has not played a competitive game for the Gunners since the 1-0 defeat to Tottenham at Wembley on 10 February.
However, Wenger believes the strike has benefitted from his absence from matches.
“He has only played twice but on the other hand when he came here he had not played for a while,” he said. “He was not at his best physically and we took advantage of the last two weeks to build him up physically.
“I think he will be much sharper than he was. You could see day after day that he is much sharper than he was two or three weeks ago.”
- This is the first-ever meeting between these sides in a major final. Arsenal have won both previous meetings with Manchester City at Wembley – 3-0 in the 2014 Community Shield and 2-1 in last season’s FA Cup semi-final.
- City have lost just one of their past five meetings with Arsenal in all competitions (W2 D2), beating them 3-1 in their previous meeting in the Premier League this season.
- In the League Cup, City have won their past two ties against Arsenal (2009-10 and 2011-12), having lost their previous five between 1977-78 and 2004-05.
- This is Arsenal’s eighth League Cup final – they’ve lost more than any other side in the history of the competition (5), winning the tournament twice – in 1987 and 1993.
- Arsenal have scored just six goals in the competition this season, the lowest tally of any team to reach the final in the competition’s history.
- Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is aiming to become the eighth different manager to win all three of the English top-flight trophies after Bill Nicholson, Joe Mercer, Don Revie, George Graham, Alex Ferguson, Kenny Dalglish and Jose Mourinho.
- Wenger has won seven of his 10 domestic cup finals with Arsenal, with his last two defeats coming in this competition (2007 v Chelsea and 2011 v Birmingham).
- Of the 13 players who played for Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final defeat to Birmingham, only Laurent Koscielny and Jack Wilshere are still at the club.
- Manchester City will be making their sixth appearance in the League Cup final, and third in the last five seasons. They’ve won four of their previous five, failing only in 1974.
- City boss Pep Guardiola has triumphed in six of his previous seven major domestic and European finals, losing only to Real Madrid with Barcelona in the 2011 Copa del Rey final.
- Both Leroy Sane (3 goals, 1 assist) and Bernardo Silva (1 goals, 3 assists) have been involved in 50% of City’s eight goals in the competition this season.
- Sergio Aguero has scored in each of his last four appearances against Arsenal in all competitions (4 goals in total). Only twice before has he netted in five consecutive games for Manchester City against a single opponent (Tottenham with a run ending in May 2015 and Sunderland in a run ending in March 2017).