Pep Guardiola’s City face Arsene Wenger’s Gunners in Sunday’s Wembley showpiece, trying to win the first trophy of the Guardiola era, with Premier League glory looking certain barring a unforeseen disaster.
Guardiola’s team are also on course for the Champions League quarter-finals after thrashing Basel 4-0 away in the first leg of their last-16 tie last week.
But, even with the league title apparently in the bag, back-to-back cup defeats would put a dampener on what has been an impressive season of dazzling football.
Ten-man City went down 1-0 to League One Wigan in an ill-tempered FA Cup fifth round tie on Monday, courtesy of a late Will Grigg goal — a repeat of the scoreline in the 2013 FA Cup final.
To make matters worse, Sergio Aguero became embroiled in an ugly post-match altercation with fans while visiting supporters were seen tearing up advertising hoardings and throwing them on to the pitch.
“We’ve got to look at those (other three competitions) and look forward, but we’re disappointed,” said City defender John Stones.
“We wanted to be in all four competitions right until the end. That’s been cut short now. We’ll take time to reflect on tonight and look forward to the final on the weekend.”
Guardiola left Ederson, Kyle Walker, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling out of his starting line-up but otherwise named a strong side containing Aguero, David Silva and centre-backs Stones and Aymeric Laporte.
– Delph challenge –
Following a series of complaints over dangerous challenges on his players not being punished harshly enough, Guardiola saw his own player, Fabian Delph, shown a straight red card just before half-time.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss then exchanged heated words with Wigan manager Paul Cook as they went down the tunnel at half-time.
But the Catalan admitted Delph and City only had themselves to blame for the defeat.
“Is a red card, yeah,” said Guardiola.
“For me it’s an unnecessary action and the referee decides what he decides, so I’m not here to judge, so can be a red card. We have to learn about that.
“I just judge my team for the intentions, not the result and today the intentions were good. We tried 10 against 11.”
City still dominated despite being a man light as Wigan enjoyed just 17 per cent possession and four shots compared to City’s 29.
However, they had the shot that counted, when Grigg latched onto an error from Walker, who came on after Delph was sent off, before firing past Claudio Bravo 11 minutes from time.
“We conceded one shot on target in 90 minutes and we lost, but football is like this,” added Guardiola.
The City boss played down his spat with Cook.
“Nothing happened in the tunnel, nothing happened with my colleague,” he said. “It was just please stay in your position, that’s all, and then finished.”
Guardiola said he did not see the Aguero incident at the end of the game.
“I was in the locker room, I didn’t see it,” he said. “It’s safer when the fans are not there, but sometimes it happens. The fans respect the players and the players the fans and go inside.”
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