West Ham United’s penalty shootout victory in the Carabao Cup round of 16 ended Pep Guardiola’s four-year affair with the trophy in an unbeaten run that stretched back to 2017. With one swift strike of Saïd Benrahma’s right foot it was all over. Whether the Irons go on to capture the trophy under David Moyes remains to be seen but it seems an appropriate time to look back on the Citizens effort and applaud.
Whether they had some favourable draws or not, the fact of the matter is you still have to go the whole way and win, something City made a habit of under Guardiola’s guidance. A squad of serial winners, this current crop of players have been relentless in terms of picking up trophies and medals, to the surprise of few on the bet exchange and have made a habit of winning the first major honour of the year up for grabs. Read on, as we reflect on the four cups City captured over the years.
2018 – Arsenal (3-0)
The first trophy Guardiola picked up as City boss, it would prove to be the final nail in the coffin for Arsène Wenger as the Gunners were thrashed 3-0. Sergio Agüero opened the scoring inside 18 minutes before City completely took over proceedings, controlling all facets of the game and creating chances aplenty before two goals in quick succession on the hour mark from Vincent Kompany and David Silva put the game out of reach.
2019 – Chelsea (0-0, Penalty victory 4-3)
In a match that was overshadowed by the full-time actions of Kepa Arrizabalaga, who refused to be substituted ahead of the penalty shootout to the shock of enraged Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri, it would be City who held their nerve as they picked up the trophy after dominating the majority of the game, but missing big chances. The Italian’s only season in England would end with a Europa League win in Baku, but you wonder had he been allowed to swap out his keepers and go on to win a double in his first season if he would be given more time at Stamford Bridge.
As for City, they would go on to win a domestic treble with the Carabao Cup another trophy ticked off the list for the recently crowned centurions.
2020 – Aston Villa (2-1)
It was a game of few chances at Wembley a month shy of England’s first lockdown as a full Wembley saw City win a third successive League Cup. Aston Villa approached the game rather negatively, sitting deep from the initial minutes and inviting pressure. City dully obliged and broke through within half an hour when Agüero and Rodri fired Guardiola’s side into a 2-0 lead — forcing Villa to come out.
The Villains pulled one back through half time but simply weren’t able to compete despite the individual brilliance of Jack Grealish creating several half chances. In hindsight, if Dean Smith had been a bit more forward thinking against a rotated City side, he could perhaps got something out of the game.
2021 – Tottenham Hotspur (1-0)
A more recent addition in the Etihad trophy cabinet, the 2021 final was moved from its usual February date until May as coronavirus restrictions changed and allowed fans to attend after over a year away. It was a relief to see fresh faces back at Wembley, albeit restricted by masks and social distancing as City proved too much for a Tottenham Hotspur side still bemused by the sacking of José Mourinho just a few days prior. Ryan Mason was in interim charge but was naïve in his approach to the game, as an inexperienced coach would be, and was tactically out thought by Guardiola. Spurs stayed in the match for as long as possible before a late winner courtesy of Aymric Laporte ensured the trophy would be returning to Manchester.