Mikel Arteta’s keeper gamble backfires – but one Arsenal star shines vs Man City

Mikel Arteta wanted fighters. Instead, his Arsenal side fell victim to a goalkeeping calamity.

Quite why the under-fire Gunners boss trusted Alex Runarsson in such a big game is anybody’s guess.

But it backfired badly as new boy Runarsson’s howler helped Manchester City march into the semi finals.

Arteta found at least one fighter in Gabriel Martinelli, who was outstanding before he came off injured, and helped Alex Lacazette level after Gabriel Jesus scored the opener.

But just when Arsenal looked like giving last year’s EFL Cup winners a test, Runarsson fumbled a Riyad Mahrez free kick into his own net.

The Iceland keeper was warming the bench at Dijon when he was signed to replace Emi Martinez, and that looked about his level after such a horrible error.

Ruthless City took full advantage with Phil Foden and Aumeric Laporte adding to the misery for Pep Guardiola’s former pupil.

And the only percentage stat Arteta needs from his army of analysts now is the one which spells out how much of chance he has of clinging to his job.

Between them the two teams made 15 changes showing perhaps just where this competition really lies on their list of priorities.

Or maybe, for City, how easy it’s been to win it recently. They have won the last three League Cups in a row after all, and five of the last seven.

It’s been a different story for Arsenal, who have only appeared in the final twice in the last ten seasons.

Only three players survived from the Gunners side which lost at Everton as Arteta shook things up, but it was not the strongest of line-ups on paper.

And City sliced through Arsenal like a knife through butter when Jesus gave them the lead inside three minutes.

Phil Foden fed Oleksandr Zinchenko and Jesus was somehow allowed a free header inside the six-yard box to score his first goal in 609 minutes.

But Arsenal responded, with Dani Ceballos pouncing on a poor clearance and feeding Martinelli, starting his fist match since March.

Martinelli stood up a lovely floated cross, and Lacazette threw himself at it to head home into the top corner.

You could see the confidence flowing back into Arsenal after that. But Runarsson had to pull off a great save to race out and stop a point-blank shot from Jesus.

Martinelli then got clattered accidentally challenging Zack Steffen for the ball, and lasted only a few minutes into the second half before limping off.

With the 19-year-old went any real hope for Arsenal as City went back in front shortly afterwards – but it was one that Runarsson will replay over and over in his nightmares.

Mahrez won a free kick after a clumsy tackle from Gabriel, and curled it around the wall.

But it only went in after Runarsson, who had watched it all the way, took his eye off it at the last minute and allowed it to squirm horribly over his head into the net.

He was beaten again when Foden chipped him beautifully after being picked out by Fernandinho on a driving run.

And Foden then turned provider with a peach of a cross for Laporte to score his first of the season.

Source: Read Full Article