Stalwarts Kompany and David Silva lead Man City to Carabao Cup glory
Manchester City's 3-0 defeat of Arsenal in the Carabao Cup delivered Pep Guardiola's 10th cup final win out of 11 as a coach, and the club's first trophy of the new era under the Catalan maestro.
In a season of short precision passing, a first half of mainly thud and blunder underlined the ever-changing storylines that football produces. Having lost to Wigan in the FA Cup to throw a lifeline to all those that doubted them, City sunk one of their hoodoo opponents with consummate ease in what turned out to be an unusually one-sided Wembley affair. Perhaps the season's patterns should have forewarned us: Not only have City been the outstanding team of the year, but under Guardiola, there have never been two consecutive defeats.
Between them, David Silva and Vincent Kompany have been at City for a total of 18 years. For all the talk of a revitalised, reinvented club under Guardiola, the best two players on the pitch on this occasion were the longest standing.
There can be no negatives when your team wins 3-0 in a cup final.
Manager Rating out of 10
9 -- This week's story was of doubt and tiredness and the vague sniff of dropping standards, but here was his team brushing away an Arsenal outfit that has been a thorn in the side of Manchester City for 40-plus years. Hats off.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Claudio Bravo, 8 -- Better than almost everyone was expecting. Mostly playing it long, he cleared his lines early and even managed an assist for the first goal. Only one jittery moment, when he fly-kicked thin air instead of the ball when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang threatened. Quiet second half admiring Nicolas Otamendi's defending.
DF Kyle Walker, 7 -- Lively start going forward. Always available down the right. On one occasion, missed his tackle in midfield, leaving Arsenal free to maraud through the middle, but was back to help block out the trouble: it was the 80th minute with his side three up.
DF Vincent Kompany, 9 -- All-action game for the longest-serving player on the staff. After so many injury problems, to captain City to victory and score the critical second goal was a fitting tribute to his longevity and his perseverance in the face of daunting obstacles that would have flattened a lesser pro.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 8 -- Solid and dependable. What a change under Guardiola for the Argentinean. Totally unflappable and clever in his choice of out-ball to midfield.
DF Danilo, 8 -- Best performance in a City shirt so far. Wonderfully weighted and timed through ball to David Silva for the crucial second goal. He was still powering up the left wing as the game drifted into injury time.
MF Fernandinho, 7 -- Comfortable start in a scrappy midfield battle but collected a yellow card for upending Jack Wilshire and then had to walk the tightrope as the Arsenal man attempted to get him penalised for any attempt to get within three feet of him. Replaced by Bernardo Silva after limping off clutching his hamstring.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, 6 -- Wasteful in possession and unsure of his timing. Failed to release David Silva in one first-half raid and continued to lose possession in a flurry of misplaced passes.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 7 -- Chose the big event to mingle in and let David Silva take the plaudits. Quick feet, always to the fore and found more space after the break to create some of his customary havoc. Apart from one delicious volley into the side netting aside, he spent the afternoon working assiduously for the team.
MF Leroy Sane, 8 -- Always available, the German flier tied Nacho Monreal in knots, and the latter's replacement, Sead Kolasinac, received much the same treatment. A breath of fresh air down the left when he could find enough space to flourish.
MF David Silva, 9 -- First slide-rule pass set the tone in the eighth minute as he slotted Sergio Aguero down the left channel. Took control of a messy midfield with aplomb and displayed all of his short-passing excellence, as well as the customary foot in when necessary. Hard as nails, smooth as silk.
FW Sergio Aguero, 8 -- Looked interested right from the start, when a left-side slalom took him in to the box. Took his goal beautifully, with strength, awareness and precision.
MF Bernardo Silva, 7 -- Came on for Fernandinho in the 51st minute and proceeded to produce his usual economical possession-saving control. First touch was to completely bamboozle Shkodran Mustafi by the touchline.
FW Gabriel Jesus, NR -- Came on for his first game of 2018 replacing Sane after 76 minutes. Looked lively and had plenty of time to get involved with the perpetually outraged Wilshire.
MF Phil Foden, NR -- Replaced Aguero on 87 minutes and revelled in his first cup-winning experience with the club he has supported since he was a boy.
Simon is one of ESPN FC's Manchester City bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @bifana_bifana.