Harry Kane and Gareth Bale look on as Man City lift the Carabao Cup

Manchester City 1-0 Tottenham: Carabao Cup final defeat shows how far Spurs have slipped


For the fourth season in a row, Manchester City are Carabao Cup winners.

Pep Guardiola’s side have made this competition their own in recent times and the gulf between City and the rest was clear in the way they dominated Tottenham Hotspur, even if the winning goal didn’t come until eight minutes from the end.

Aymeric Laporte could have been shown a red card in the first half, but stayed on the pitch long enough to make the difference, heading home a Kevin De Bruyne corner kick to clinch a 1-0 win at Wembley.

City will now turn their focus towards clinching the Premier League title, and winning the Champions League for the first time, while Spurs will reflect on another missed opportunity to lift a trophy.

Pep Guardiola's managerial record

Is De Bruyne Man City's greatest player?

With Sergio Aguero set to leave Manchester City at the end of the season, there has been some discussion on the greatest players to have played for the club.

The Argentine, along with the likes of Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Yaya Toure, is an icon of the Abu Dhabi era - but none were as good as De Bruyne is now.

City are on course to win their third Premier League title in four years, they have won the Carabao Cup four years in succession and are the favourites to win the Champions League this season.

De Bruyne is the driving force behind this team, as demonstrated by the way he played against Spurs here.

Why De Bruyne could win the Ballon d’Or

De Bruyne has now notched 20 goals for club and country in the 2020/21 campaign.

There is no midfielder on his level anywhere in European football at this moment in time. Injuries are the only thing that can seemingly stop him.

Winning the Champions League this season could even see him enter the Ballon d’Or discussion for 2021.

'Beautiful' City masters of dark arts

There is an unwritten rule in football that whenever a player avoids a red card they will pop up with a crucial goal at some point later in the same match. This proved to be the case here as Laporte scored the winner having committed two cynical fouls in the first half that probably should have seen him shown two yellow cards.

Time and time again, City fouled Tottenham’s midfielders and attackers whenever they attempted to break. Fernandinho was guilty of this, as he frequently is, while De Bruyne was somewhat fortunate not to suffer the same fate that Fabian Balbuena, Liam Cooper and John Stones did recently for following through on an opponent.

Sergio Reguilon might also have been sent off in the first half for cynically hacking down De Bruyne, but it appears City learned lessons from previous defeats to Tottenham, when they allowed their opponents to break into space too easily.

This time, Guardiola wasn’t taking any chances. City play some beautiful football, but they are also masters of the dark arts.

Guardiola lost faith in Aguero and Jesus

This was a dominant performance from Manchester City. They controlled possession throughout and created a number of good openings. Yet it took them until the 82nd minute to make the breakthrough after Ilkay Gundogan, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling all passed up opportunities to find the back of the net.

All the while Aguero and Gabriel Jesus watched from the bench. City needed an attacker with a natural instinct for scoring, but Guardiola still didn’t see it as appropriate to introduce one of the two number nines in his squad.

Pep Guardiola on winning the Carabao Cup

This said a lot for the trust, or the lack thereof, the Catalan coach has in the pair.

It might well be that Guardiola wanted to rest Aguero and Jesus for Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg away to Paris Saint-Germain, but neither started either leg of the quarter-final win over Borussia Dortmund.

When Jesus started last weekend’s FA Cup semi final against Chelsea, City lost. If Guardiola doesn’t get a new centre-forward this summer, it won’t be because he doesn’t want one.

Spurs need more than Mourinho sacking

Jose Mourinho might have watched this one from home, but this was still his Tottenham side.

That was evident in the performance produced by the north London side, who were passive throughout. This was the sort of futile and generally aimless display that got Mourinho sacked.

CLICK TO READ: Why it unravelled for Jose Mourinho

Tottenham defeated City earlier in the season by sitting deep, absorbing pressure and hitting out on the counter attack, but there was a tactical nuance to the way Mourinho’s team played that day.

The way they covered space and tracked markers in midfield hinted at the implementation of a structure on the training ground.

That structure has since disintegrated and this was a reminder that it will take more than Mourinho’s sacking to get Spurs heading in the right direction again.

Whoever replaces Ryan Mason as interim manager this summer will have to rebuild the squad, and the culture in the dressing room, from the ground up.

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