Arsene Wenger to blame for Arsenal's lack of fight and it's time for him to go
Given that Arsenal had already lost five games in 2018, including defeats to the likes of Swansea, Bournemouth, Nottingham Forest, and Ostersunds FK, it wasn't that surprising when they went down 3-0 in the Carabao Cup final to the best team in England.
Man City sit top of the Premier League, a full 27 points ahead of the Gunners and that gulf in quality was evident throughout the game at Wembley. There's no question as to who deserved it; no question as to who were the better side. The only question was how big the margin of victory was going to be.
Thankfully, perhaps knowing that there was little point in exerting themselves unnecessarily, City didn't turn the screws. It might have been even more embarrassing for Arsenal if they had, but even at 3-0 there was so much to worry about.
The cups have been Arsenal's saving grace over the last few seasons. It can often happen that a good side, unable to produce the consistency needed for a title challenge, can show their quality in cup competitions. On the way to winning three FA Cups in four seasons, Arsene Wenger's team beat all the big boys, their rivals in the top six, and showed that when it came to the big occasion they could produce.
In that context, Sunday might be seen as a one-off but in truth it was a performance that won't have shocked anyone. Ahead of last Thursday's game against Ostersunds FK in the Europe League, the Arsenal manager cautioned his team not to take it for granted lest they be on the wrong end of a "bad surprise."
Yet that's exactly what they did. They strolled through the match, allowed their opponents back into it, and although they qualified for the next round, losing 2-1 at home to a team like that was a poor result by any standards. Afterwards, Wenger accused his team of complacency and a lack of focus.
That performance and result was indicative of a team who have stopped listening to their manager, and at Wembley on Sunday there was further evidence that Wenger has taken this team as far as he can.
While some will argue he can't legislate for individual mistakes like the one committed by the hapless Shkodran Mustafi for City's first goal, these are his players. He had them scouted, he bought them, he coaches them, and if there are shortcomings individually and collectively, that's his responsibility.
It's his job to prepare and motivate his team for every game, cup final or otherwise, and the list of teams who have bettered Arsenal in this calendar year alone tells its own harsh, but sad story.
That he couldn't manage to get his team up for a final speaks volumes about where Arsenal are right now. It's no disgrace to lose a game to Man City, but to be so poor when the opposition barely had to get out of second gear is profoundly disappointing to fans who have seen their team struggle for any kind of consistency this season.
With a 10-point gap to the top four, and the potential for Europa League success undermined by the team's complete lack of form, it raises the question of what happens now. The need for change has been apparent for some time, but each defeat and each poor performance hammers another nail into Wenger's coffin.
It's not nice to see a formerly great manager in such decline. He has done so much for Arsenal, created so many wonderful memories and brought real joy to fans down the years, but he's now operating like a man who is focused on not losing his job rather than one who is truly confident of building a competitive team.
At the very latest, change has to come this summer. Despite his insistence that he always sees out his contracts (which will have another year to run), the board need to do the right thing for him and for the club. Wenger's legacy is in no danger, once the frustration burns away he'll be rightly remembered with the fondness he deserves for the work he's done, but right now he's a manager with one foot in the departure lounge. And his players know it.
Andrew Mangan is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @arseblog.