Arsenal’s decline against big rivals ahead of Carabao Cup final with Manchester City

Arsenal face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final live on Sky Sports this Sunday – but their woeful record against big-six rivals is a reason for concern.

Arsene Wenger’s men have only taken six points from a possible 24 against ‘big-six’ clubs in the Premier League this term – compared with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City who have won 15 points from a possible 18.

Arsenal grabbed a point from both league fixtures with Chelsea this season, hosted Liverpool in a 3-3 thriller and beat Tottenham 2-0 at the Emirates in November.

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However, the Gunners lost to Spurs at Wembley this month after comprehensive defeats against both Manchester clubs and suffered a 4-0 thrashing at Liverpool in August.

Of the current top-six clubs, Arsenal have won the smallest share of potential points from head-to-head meetings this season with just 25 per cent.

Head-to-head PL points share, top six clubs, 2017/18 MANAGER PLD PTS % PTS WON Guardiola 6 15 83.33% Conte 6 9 50.00% Klopp 8 10 41.67% Poch 8 10 41.67% Mourinho 6 7 38.89% Wenger 8 6 25.00%

It has become a problem for Arsenal and Wenger over recent seasons – but it was not always the case. In his first 10 full seasons at Arsenal, Wenger collected 161 points against teams that finished in the top six in each respective season. But that tally has fallen to 120 during his past 10 terms.

There appears to be a general season-by-season decline occurring, too. Arsenal’s current haul of six points is the lowest total of Wenger’s time in charge, with only two fixtures against the Manchester clubs left to play.

Those results are a stark contrast to Arsenal’s Invincible campaign of 2003/04, when Wenger’s side collected 24 points from a possible 30 – having recorded 17 or more points in each season between 1997/98 and 2002/03.

The graphic below reveals a strong correlation between seasonal success against top-six rivals and final league positions – in addition to a clear decline in both metrics over the period.

Both managers will be looking to lift the League Cup for the first time on Sunday, but while Guardiola will want to make amends for a shock FA Cup exit to League One Wigan, Wenger will have to buck his decline against top-six rivals to come out on top.

Source.