Man City the Carabao cup kings: How Pep's men dominate the competition

Manchester City the Carabao cup KINGS: Since being out-muscled by Man United in 2016 Pep Guardiola’s men have dominated the competition like never before… but ONE rival side still holds a better league cup record

  • Manchester City are preparing to face Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup final
  • Pep Guardiola’s side are enjoying a huge period of dominance in the competition
  • Since last going out, in October 2016, City have progressed through 14 rounds 
  • Only one other team in the English top flight has rivalled such a masterful spell

As the Manchester City team coach pulls into the Wembley Stadium players bay on Sunday, Pep Guardiola and his troops will be met with the most familiar of sensations.

Over the past four years this truly has been City’s competition. Day has become night, night has become day, and the League Cup has been coloured sky blue. It’s just how things go.

Aston Villa know full well they are facing a formidable opponent. This season alone they have already conceded nine goals to Guardiola’s men. For City though, this is nothing personal. 

This is a chance for more silverware and a shot at the record books. With the Etihad side having passed through a remarkable 14 consecutive rounds in the competition, Sportsmail took a look back through the archives.

Man City know the Carabao Cup better than anyone else and have dominated in recent years

We have to travel back just over three days to find the last time City were knocked out of the competition they call their own.

At the hands of noisy neighbours Manchester United, a solitary goal from playmaker Juan Mata at the start of the second half was enough to send City home from Old Trafford empty-handed.

It is over three years since City were eliminated from the competition, losing to United in 2016

The loss came early in Guardiola’s maiden season. His philosophy was only in the early days of permeating its way into the bones of City’s squad, and the Carabao Cup would soon become a tournament in which he would flourish.

City were, of course, holders of the trophy at the time, having won the cup the season prior by beating Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on penalties.

Losing to United would jerk City into life. From that point onward, they would not bow out and the remarkable run since has taken them all the way to Sunday’s final, were they are overwhelming favourites.

The men in sky blue were unable to make their mark at Old Trafford, but have dominated since

The goals

In their 17 matches since exiting to United in 2016, City have been scoring at what can only be described as a formidable level.

Though Guardiola continually tinkers with his Carabao Cup sides, in both formation and personnel, the goals never appear to dry up.

Vincent Kompany caused scenes of jubilation when scoring vs Arsenal in the 2018 final

Following the recent semi-final revenge mission against United, to set up a place in Sunday’s final, City have 39 strikes to their name, having conceded just 11.

This is where Gabriel Jesus has come into his own. When fully fit, the Brazilian is often the go-to man in this competition. He has 832 minutes under his belt overall, and six goals to show for it.

It makes him City’s most lethal forward in the competition, alongside Sergio Aguero who also has six. Jesus, however, has also provided two assists. 

Though it may be said that the luck of the draw has favoured City in recent years, Guardiola’s men certainly taken no prisoners when it comes to progressing in the cup.

During last season’s semi-final the men in sky blue disembodied Burton Albion and took a 9-0 victory, before scoring one further goal in what was essentially a pointless second leg. 

Joao Canelo found opportunities in the cup, and scored against Oxford United this season

Gabriel Jesus was part of the squad who dismantled Burton to take a 10-0 aggregate victory

City can of course still do things the hard way. During their 2018 semi-final duel with a plucky Bristol City, the Carabao Cup regulars refused to bow out and succumb to a giant killing. 

A 2-1 first leg was met with a 3-2 return, as Guardiola and Co. marched on to Wembley once more.

Mr reliable

Though it may come as a surprise, City’s most trusted lieutenant in this competition comes in the form of Ilkay Gundogan.

The decorated German has the most appearances out of all his team-mates, having featured 14 times on City’s blistering run and banking 964 minutes.

Gundogan has taken delight in the competition, having used it for come-back appearances following his nasty cruciate ligament rupture in his knee in 2016.

The Carabao Cup has been an outlet for Ilkay Gundogan, who is City’s trusted lieutenant

Of his 14 appearances in the undefeated run, Gundogan has started nine times, showing his versatility in a number of different positions.

The former Borussia Dortmund star has featured at defensive midfield, attacking midfield and in a deputy wing-back position, each time using his experience to command the side and provide a reassuring presence.

Mr assist

For all the goals, a key provider is needed. Time and time again City have been able to draw on the laser-like vision of Bernardo Silva.

Seen as the heir to his namesake David, Bernardo has always found game-time in the Carabao Cup and has 13 appearances under his belt.

In an ever-changing cup side, Bernardo Silva is a mainstay and regularly provides the goods

The Portuguese playmaker is by far and away City’s most creative outlet in this competition. In the absence of the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo steps up to the plate to make City tick.

He has six assists to his name and counting, meaning Villa should be particularly vary come Sunday. 

Top scorer

Playing in the same side and competing with Sergio Aguero for a place can never be an enviable task.

Yet in the Carabao Cup Gabriel Jesus knows how to turn it on. He has six goals for City in their blistering run through 14 consecutive rounds and will surely have a taste for glory in the final.

Gabriel Jesus knows how to find the back of the net and steps up in the Carabao Cup for City

Aguero has as many goals as Jesus, though hasn’t provided for others. The Brazilian has two assists to his name.

Jesus is scoring at least one goal per every 138 minutes of Carabao Cup action, with is a impressive return for a squad which is often tinkered and rotated. 

The motley crew

Guardiola certainly isn’t afraid to hand out game-time in the Carabao Cup, despite City’s constant desire to retain the trophy.

A vast array of lesser-know names have been given a run-out by the manager, including the likes of Eric Garcia, Philippe Sandler and Ian Poveda.

Throughout their unbeaten run City have fielded 40 different players, from latest signings to youth academy hopefuls.


Claudio Bravo; Danilo; John Stones; Eliaquim Mangala; Fabian Delph; Bernardo Silva; Yaya Toure Ilkay Gundogan; Raheem Sterling; Gabriel Jesus; Leroy Sane; Fernandinho; Kyle Walker; Tosin Adarabioyo

Oleks Zinchenko; Sergio Aguero; Kevin De Bruyne; Phil Foden; Brahim Diaz; Lukas Nmecha; Tom Dele-Bashiru

Nicolas Otamendi; David Silva; Vincent Kompany; Aro Muric; Riyad Mahrez; Adrian Bernabe; Claudio Gomes

Eric Garcia; Philippe Sandler; Ian Poveda; Benjamin Mendy; Felix Nmecha; Ederson; Aymeric Laporte, Angelino; Taylor Harwood-Bellis; Joao Cancelo; Tommy Doyle

One man who has certainly benefited from City’s long runs in this competition is Phil Foden, who is still biding his time on the sidelines despite his England youth team-mates like Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount getting a chance on the big stage at their respective clubs.

Foden has made 11 appearances during City’s long run, which is as many as the likes of De Bruyne and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, and more than Raheem Sterling and David Silva.

The rivals

While City are seen as ‘the’ team to beat in the League Cup and their record is the subject of envy, it’s not English football’s best.

Only bitter foe Liverpool have progressed through more rounds of the competition consecutively, and their superiority is something City are looking to track down.

During their sheer dominance in the early 80’s, Liverpool showed the rest how it was done in ruthless fashion and successfully navigated 25 consecutive rounds during an untouchable stint. 

Only Liverpool progressed through more rounds of the competition consecutively, in the 80s

Liverpool pulled off the feat between the 1980/81 season, running to the 1984-85 campaign, under the guidance of Bob Paisley, then Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish.

Should City overcome Villa in this year’s final, they will have 15 rounds on the bounce in the bank and will surely feel confident of reeling in Liverpool’s record.

Should they manage to do so, it could be one which may well stand the test of time. 



Third Round: West Brom 1-2 City

Fourth Round: City 0-0 Wolves (won 4-1 on pens)

Quarter-final: Leicester 1-1 City (won 3-4 on pens)

Semi-final first leg: City 2-1 Bristol City

Semi-final second leg: Bristol City 2-3 City

Final: Arsenal 0-3 City


Third Round: Oxford 0-3 City

Fourth Round: City 2-0 Fulham

Quarter-final: Leicester 1-1 City (won 1-3 on pens)

Semi-final first leg: City 9-0 Burton Albion

Semi-final second leg: Burton Albion 0-1 City

Final: Chelsea 0-0 City (3-4 on pens)


Third Round: Preston 0-3 City

Fourth Round: City 3-1 Southampton

Fifth Round: Oxford 1-3 City

Semi-final first leg: Man United 1-3 City

Semi-final second leg: City 0-1 United

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