Manchester City Women were knocked out of the League Cup on Wednesday after losing 1-0 to Arsenal. An Extra-time winner from Stina Blackstenius was enough to secure passage to the final and break the blue girl’s hearts, who were looking for a second consecutive League Cup final.
It was a difficult pill to swallow on a cold night at Borehamwood after a game that had been back and forth throughout. Both sides had chances during normal time, with Arsenal hitting the bar and goalkeeper Sandy MacIver called into action to keep Arsenal out.
At the other end, City pressed the Gunners and for long periods of the game kept them pinned inside their own half, but ultimately, the blues couldn’t find a path to goal.
MacIver, in for Ellie Roebuck as she has been for all but one of City’s League Cup matches, was called into action early on to deny Laura Wienrother within the first five minutes. Lauren Hemp saw her attempted lob cut out by the keeper and Bunny Shaw went agonisingly close with a volley that whistled over the bar.
City continued to apply the pressure but the Gunners defence was holding firm, and it would take something special to break down the home side’s well-organised back four.
Arsenal made a number of changes after the break and that proved to be the difference between the two sides. Substitute Lina Hurtig’s close-range effort cannoned off the crossbar when she looked odds-on to score, and MacIver was again called into action to deny Blackstenius.
But, for all the pressing City did, it all came to nothing as time and again, crosses into the box, intended for the head of Shaw, failed to get past the first defender. And on any occasions that the blues managed to evade the defence, they couldn’t find that killer finish that could well have taken them to the final at Crystal Palace.
That honour fell to Arsenal, who broke the deadlock three minutes into extra-time. Hurtig’s driving run forward saw the City defence back-peddling and her pass into the middle found Blackstenius with a bit of space. Despite a scuffed effort, it was enough to beat MacIver and send the Gunners to the final.
It was the first goal the blues had conceded in the competition and it was also the first time they had failed to score. As the final whistle went, jubilation amongst the Arsenal players was met with derision by the blues, who must now pick themselves up to face the same opposition on Saturday.
Another defeat for Taylor against the top two.
Gareth Taylor’s struggles against the top sides continued on Wednesday night. After winning his first two matches home and away against Arsenal in the 2020/21 season, his side has picked up just two points against both Chelsea and the Gunners in seven matches. The blues have now lost two and drawn one against the Gunners in league and cup competitions, while the boss has one victory over Chelsea - last season’s League Cup success.
Taylor has faced Emma Hayes’ side nine times, with seven of those ending in defeat. If it wasn’t enough to struggle against these two teams, Marc Skinner’s Manchester United have been added to the fray, giving the City boss another factor to consider. His City side have beaten United a couple of times, but had to come from behind to rescue a point in December’s derby at the Etihad Stadium. United have beaten City in the League Cup group stage and they’re looking very strong in the league.
The City boss needs to address these issues soon, or the blues are just going to end up sitting outside the top four season after season. Instead of competing with the two London clubs and now United, City will end up fighting for mid-table positions against Spurs, West Ham and the resurgent Aston Villa. That’s not the position the fans want and Taylor needs to get past this barrier that is preventing his team from going toe-to-toe with the top two Either that or step aside and allow someone to come in with the right mentality to turn the blues into a force in the WSL again.
Final score: Arsenal Women 1-0 Manchester City Women