Dominant City book Carabao Cup semi-final ticket
Holders City produced another Carabao Cup masterclass as we secured a comprehensive last eight victory over Arsenal in North London to march into the semi-finals.
Second half strikes from Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte made it a night to remember after Gabriel Jesus’s third minute opener had been cancelled out before the break.
The victory further extended manager Pep Guardiola’s incredible record in the League Cup and was no less than we deserved after what was another impressive all-round display.
City went into the game looking to maintain our magnificent record in the Carabao Cup, with Guardiola’s squad having won the trophy for the past three seasons.
And within three minutes City had laid down another impressive marker as we took the lead in clinical fashion.
Phil Foden’s vision found Oleksandr Zinchenko in space on the left wing and the Ukrainian’s pin-point inviting cross was smartly headed home from close range by Gabriel Jesus, marking his return to action in predatory style as he broke his eight-match scoring duck.
It was the perfect start and with Arsenal’s spirits sagging and City dominating possession and territory, the holders sought to further capitalise with a Fernandinho 25-yard drive whistling inches wide.
There was a graceful fluidity and sharp focus to our early work with City’s movement and flexibility causing Mikel Arteta’s side all sorts of headaches in a dominant opening.
And Aymeric Laporte marked his return to the starting line up by almost doubling our lead with a towering 22nd minute header that was an ace wide of the left-hand post.
Jesus was the focal point of so much of our good work with the Brazilian’s trickery too much for both Elneny and Mustafi who followed each other into the book for fouls on the striker in rapid fashion.
Yet, totally against the run of play, Arsenal struck with their first attack on the half hour to get back on level terms.
Teenage Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli was the architect, crafting a teasing left wing cross after Zack Steffen’s initial punch clear had been reworked wide and Alexander Lacazette stooped to beat the City defence and head into the top corner.The goal galvanised Arsenal yet City almost retook the lead through Jesus five minutes from half-time only for Gunners keeper Runar Runarsson to produce a stunning close range save to deny the Brazilian after an inadvertent touch from the hosts put Jesus in one on one 12 yards out.
It then needed a smart piece of work from Steffen to prevent Arsenal striking again.
The Brazilian beat the offside trap and as he sprinted clear to try and latch onto Gabriel’s pass, Steffen raced out of the box and just cleared the ball in the nick of time.
City though would not be denied and nine minutes into the second half our persistence was rewarded as we retook the lead through Riyad Mahrez’s free kick.
Having been brought down on the edge of the Arsenal box after some exquisite dribbling, the Algerian drilled the set piece beyond the wall and the effort squirmed through Runarsson’s grasp and into the net.
And the road to Wembley came even closer into view on 59 minutes as Phil Foden conjured up a sublime third goal.
The midfielder ran onto a perfectly weighted through ball from Fernandinho and dinked the ball beyond the advancing Runarsson and into the net.
City's dominance was further confirmed when Laporte then got in on the scoring act, heading home from Foden's superb assist on 73 minutes to compound Arsenal's misery.
It was the perfect way to build on last weekend's impressive league win at Southampton and bodes well as we now head into a demanding Christmas schedule.
WHAT IT MEANS
The victory means we join Championship outfit Brentford, who beat Newcastle tonight, in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final draw.
The draw will take place tomorrow night immediately after the Everton v Manchester United tie with Stoke facing Spurs in Wednesday’s other last eight match-up.
City return to Premier League action when we play host to Newcastle United on Boxing Day.
Kick-off at the Etihad Stadium is 8pm.
Arsenal (1): Runarsson; Soares, Gabriel, Mustafi, Kolasinac; Elneny (Smith Rowe, 66’), Ceballos; Martinelli (Pépé, 48’), Maitland-Niles, Willock; Lacazette (Balogun, 76’)
Manchester City (4): Steffen; Cancelo, Rúben Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko; Rodri (Walker, 76’), Fernandinho, Foden; Mahrez, Bernardo Silva (Ferran Torres, 69’), Gabriel Jesus (Agüero, 73’)
Goals: 0-1, Gabriel Jesus (2’), 1-1, Lacazette (31’), 1-2, Mahrez (55’), 1-3, Foden (58’), 1-4, Laporte (72’)
Referee: Stuart Attwell. Bookings:: Elneny (23’), Mustafi (25’), Bernardo Silva (65’)