Another reminder where substantial investment combined with solid management gets you, Mr Kroenke.
But the carbon kings were somewhat lucky here even though their quality was better. They can be a sly and dirty side and Fernandinho could have seen red when he slapped Ceballos around the face which would have made it a different game.
Steffen caught Martinelli and the ball with force, when he could have caught the ball only with a different angle, which could have constituted dangerous play, removing Arsenal’s best player. And City scored a goal which was offside. But there was no VAR in this competition. Fortune favours the rich.
Positives were Martinelli, injury aside, who virtually single-handedly pulled Arsenal up by the bootstraps during the first half, and the performance of Smith Rowe when he came on, setting up some chances.
But this 1-4 Carabao Cup home defeat amounts to the feeling – another nail in the coffin – and the nails are adding up, unfortunately. A lot hangs on the next fortnight – and whether Arteta gets enough points to be allowed to shift some players and bring some in during the window.
Man City have only lost two out of the last 22 League Cup ties. And ‘won’ it the last three times.
Arsenal made eight changes from Everton with Mustafi and Kolasinac either side of Gabriel, Cedric and Maitland Niles as wing backs, Willock, Ceballos and Elneny in the middle and Martinelli partnering Lacazette up front. Questions will be asked why Runarsson came in for Leno.
In three minutes Zinchenko fired it in and Jesus nipped in between Runarsson who should have caught it, Mustafi and Gabriel to head home. Body language changed and Arsenal started backing off.
On 12, Arsenal had their first attack as Ceballos slung in a low corner and Lacazette headed it well wide, when he should have flicked it on.
Runarsson mis-kicked several times under pressure and came out of his goal unnecessarily.
On 20 Maitland Niles crossed, but was saved by Steffen.
Mahrez’s shot was deflected and from the corner Laporte beat three Arsenal players and sent a header just wide. Soon after, the Algerian went on a run and Elneny brought him down in a dangerous area and was booked.
Jesus then turned Mustafi, and the German was booked.
Fernandinho slapped Ceballos in the face and could have seen red in the current climate – but this is the Arsenal – and there was no VAR. Make no mistake – Man City are a dirty side, masked by their flowing play.
Arsenal changed to a back four and stabilised.
Martinelli chased a ball down took it to the byline sent an outswinger met by Lacazette into the top corner. Hopefully it will kick start a scoring run. The Frenchman scores in streaks. Arsenal’s body language changed.
But a neat one two’s saw Foden set up Jesus in front of Runarsson who saved it at point blank range, making amends for some difficult moments.
Man City goalkeeper Steffen came out in a through ball chase and aimed his boot at the ball and Martinelli’s foot with force taking in the foot and ball. The Brazilian lay on the turf with a shirt over his head – with Arsenal fans fearing the worst.
He had beena whirr of energy and industry and came out for the second half, but went to ground within the first three minutes and Pepe, the antithesis, came on. And immediately lost the ball twice.
Mahrez won a foul off Gabriel on the right of the area. And he hit it straight at Runarsson with the ball slipping through his fingers. Turning point. Questions about adequate recruitment also come to mind, particularly with Martinez going.
Luck wasn’t on Arsenal’s side. Ceballos sent a through ball which hit Willock and the ball was moved quickly up the field by Fernandinho who sent it through to Foden who was offside? But no VAR and he knocked it over Runarsson.
Bernado Silva came in with a dangerous tackle on Ceballos, as he was breaking away, as is City’s way, and was carded.
Smith Rowe came on for Elneny and immediately set up Lacazette with a cute pass who fired it into the side netting.
Foden crossed – Mustafi thought Laporte was offside and was static and watched as he headed home. The German raised his hands in the air asking his fellow defenders – ‘where were you?’.
Balogan came on for Lacazette on 77 and set up a chance for Pepe – who fired it wide.
After the match, Mahrez said it was a solid performance. “After the third it was easier for us.”
On the free kick goal, he said: “I was surprised by the position of the keeper – he was near the post.”
Guardiola said: “Both teams need to score goals. After second half we changed something in attack. After they changed, we put another player in a position where we could be dangerous.
“After 3-1 it was easier.”
Mikel Arteta said: “We conceded a soft goal. It was difficult against a quality team – but we scored a good goal. We were the better team in 25 minutes. It is difficult conceding against this level of opponent. After that [the second goal] we were chasing it –and they scored in an offside position.
On Runarsson:“He is adapting to the league and we have to support him. Leno needed some rest and other players need opportunities.
“At the moment a lot of strange things are happening in the games. If we don’t turn it around, we are in big trouble. We showed spirit tonight. I believe we can turn it around.”
On the transfer window: “We are looking at options. It will be a complicated window – we will see how things develop.”
Arsenal: Rúnarsson, Mustafi (Booked at 25), Gabriel, Kolasinac, Cédric Soares, Elneny (Booked at 23, Smith Rowe 66), Ceballos, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Lacazette (Balogan 77), Martinelli (Pepe 49)
Unused Substitutes: Leno, Tierney, Marí, Nketiah
Man City: Steffen, Cancelo, Rúben Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko, Rodri (Walker 77), Fernandinho, Mahrez, Bernardo Silva (Torres70), Foden, Gabriel Jesus (Aguero 74)
Unused Substitutes: Stones, Sterling, Gündogan, Ederson