Man City win Carabao Cup but dream is still Champions League - Alan Shearer analysis

Match of the Day

Pep Guardiola has his first trophy at Manchester City in the bag - and it will not be the last piece of silverware they win this season.

Right from the start, City's 3-0 win over Arsenal in the Carabao Cup final was never in doubt. They were better in every position, looked much sharper and their attitude was spot on too.

It was an important game for City because it came straight after their shock FA Cup defeat by League One side Wigan.

I expected to see a reaction from them following that result - and that is exactly what happened. There was no hangover whatsoever and they fully deserved their victory at Wembley.

Now it is just a question of what else they will win.

City can no longer complete the Quadruple, of course, but they can still do the Treble of Premier League, League Cup and Champions League, which would be an incredible achievement.

Can they do it? I still think it is unlikely - but they have given themselves a great chance.

Man City celebrate winning the Carabao Cup
Manchester City's Carabao Cup triumph was the third time they have won the competition since 2014

How to turn an excellent season into an unbelievable one

With 37 wins and only three defeats in their 43 games so far in 2017-18, City could not really have done much better than they have done so far.

They have been in magnificent form for the past seven months - it is the end of February and that Wigan game was their first real setback of the campaign.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Highlights: Wigan 1-0 Man City

City had a blip against the Latics, but it was the sort of thing that can happen to any team in the FA Cup - against a side who defended heroically, helped by an amazing atmosphere at DW Stadium.

It was a day on which nothing went right for Guardiola's side, but there was never any suggestion that there would be any kind of collapse after that loss.

They were completely dominant against Arsenal and thoroughly deserved their win, which could have been by a bigger margin than 3-0.

Premier League snapshot - top of table: Man City in 1st, Man Utd 2nd, Liverpool 3rd, Tottenham 4th, Chelsea in 5th and Arsenal 6th

City are 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League and the title is as good as in the bag. At most, they only need to win six of their remaining 11 games to become champions.

By doing that they would emulate the Premier League and League Cup double they managed under Manuel Pellegrini in 2014, which would be impressive enough.

But they would turn an excellent season into an unbelievable one if they were to win the Champions League as well.

Only two English teams have ever done a Treble combining the European Cup or Champions League, the league title and a domestic cup in a single season - Liverpool in 1984 and Manchester United in 1999.

That shows how just hard it is to do. As good as City have been, and as strong as their squad is, it will be a big ask for them to join that elite list.

What helps? Having Guardiola in their corner

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and his coaching staff
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and his coaching staff celebrate their Carabao Cup triumph

Three members of City's old guard scored against Arsenal - Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva. They were all part of City's first Premier League title-winning team of 2012.

I was especially pleased for Kompany because he has had such a tough time with injuries. For him to get on the scoresheet and lift that trophy was fantastic. If anyone deserves it, I think he does.

Along with Aguero and Silva, he was at City before Guardiola arrived and has enjoyed plenty of success with the club in the past.

Thanks to Guardiola, they are part of an exciting future too. This is his team now, and it definitely helps City's chances that they have Guardiola in their corner - as we have seen at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, he is a serial winner.

Pep Guardiola celebrates with his players when in charge of Barcelona
Pep Guardiola won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011

While a lot of City's players have not been in this situation before - chasing multiple trophies late in the campaign - Guardiola is used to it and he won't be satisfied once the league title is secured as well.

Another reason they have got a chance of winning so much is that, in contrast to last season, they can defend when they have to.

That is partly down to personnel and the players Guardiola has bought to strengthen his defence.

In goal, Ederson has shored them up massively in an area which was a huge concern for them previously. He is also a better passer than many defenders in the Premier League - a lot of their moves start with him.

As well as having so many good players, though, it is the way they try to win the ball back that is so impressive.

They are so easy on the eye when they have they ball, but what is equally important is how good they are when they lose it.

They have the highest possession rate of any team in any of the big five leagues in Europe (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) this season - 72.2% - and the opposition have to work very hard to get it off them.

When they do, City hunt in packs to win it back quickly. It is a high-energy approach, but it actually tires the other team out too.

City want to win the Champions League most of all

Real Madrid have won the Champions League for the third time in four seasons
Real Madrid's 2017 Champions League success was the third time they had been champions of Europe in the past four seasons

No matter how many domestic trophies City win this season, they would probably be disappointed if they failed to win the Champions League too.

They want to win everything, but they want the Champions League most of all.

It is the trophy that has eluded them in the 10 years since Sheikh Mansour bought the club in 2008 - and, ultimately, winning it is what Guardiola was hired for.

They have only got past the last 16 once before, when they reached the semi-finals in 2016, but they are as good as in the quarter-finals this time after beating Basel 4-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie in Switzerland.

Again, it has been a case of so far, so good - but we will not truly know how good this City side is until they meet a team like Barcelona, Bayern Munich or whoever comes through the Real Madrid v Paris St-Germain tie. Those big hitters will offer the real test.

I was co-commentating for BBC Radio 5 live at last year's final between Real and Juveventus and thought there was a massive gap between those two teams and the English clubs, including City.

But as Tottenham showed against Juve in Turin, the Premier League sides have stepped up a level this season.

Harry Kane has scored seven of Tottenham's 16 Champions League goals this season
Tottenham fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Juventus in the first leg of their last-16 tie in Italy

What we don't know yet is whether any of them are good enough to go all the way.

What stood out for me in Cardiff last May was Real's speed of thought and passing, which is what won them that game in the second half.

That is the way City play, of course, but can they do it against the very best teams in Europe? It is is going to be very interesting to find out.

Alan Shearer was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

Top Stories