Sunday’s early kickoff will be the Capital One League Cup Final featuring Manchester City v Sunderland at Wembley Stadium in London. Read on for my preview along with prediction for the results of this fantastic cup final.
Sunderland return to their first cup final since the 1992 FA Cup and their chance at the first piece of silverware for the club since the 1985 League Cup win. For Manchester City it is a chance to get their first League Cup trophy since 1976 as well as return to winning since their 2011-12 Premier League title (unless you want to count the 2012 Community Shield win).
Manchester City are certainly coming in as favorites. Having played their Champions League match the previous week they have had the full week to prepare following their Premier League match on Saturday.
In Saturday’s EPL match they managed to squeak past Stoke City thanks to a 70’ goal from Yaya Toure. This was a dominating performance, but not filled with the quality that most would expect from a Manchester City home win. Perhaps players are getting tired, or they could be thinking about the upcoming final and not wanting to overexert themselves or risk injury.
The citizens trip to the Capital One Cup final was quite easy, especially when compared to Sunderland’s. Their first match was a replay of the 2013 FA Cup final against Wigan Athletic, but this time City came through comfortably with a 5-0 home win. The next round required extra time, but they scored two goals to defeat Newcastle United on the road 2-0.
They again won away, this time 3-1 against Leicester City before meeting West Ham United in the semi-finals. This was a two legged affair in which Manchester City proved their dominance in a 9-0 aggregate win. The tie was basically over after the first leg 6-0 home win.
Manchester City still have both Mateja Nastasic and Sergio Aguero listed as injured, however, it is quite possible that Aguero could return, and possibly even Nastasic. Both would be welcome additions considering their recent difficulties in scoring goals as well as allowing them.
This is Sunderland’s chance to give the fans something to cheer about this season. Yes, they are still in the FA Cup, but having made it to the final for the Capital One Cup, they need to go out and make the most of it.
Their Premier League season is falling apart and they could still very easily be relegated. However, they have done well in the League Cup which has seen them get past three Premier League teams to get into the final.
They first saw off Milton Keynes Dons at home 4-2 which was followed up by a 2-0 home win over Peterborough. Their home form continued with a 2-1 win over Southampton before meeting Chelsea in the quarter finals. They required extra time after playing to a 1-1 draw in normal time, but got the winner to go through 2-1.
In the semi-finals they first defeated Manchester United at home 2-1, before losing the second leg 2-1 on the road in what was a frantic match. United had been up 1-0 before giving up a goal in extra time then getting the game winner, however this just put the two teams level on aggregate meaning penalties. The penalty shootout was one that others should watch and learn what not to do. Sunderland ended up winning by converting only two of their five compared to United’s one.
Wes Brown will be returning following his two match ban while Steven Fletcher could also be returning as well. It is possible that Carlos Cuellar will be fit and could make the bench.
My pick is a Manchester City win. Statistically they should dominate the match. They have a stronger squad full of better players and are the clear favorites. With that said, it is a cup final and City has already found out what can happen in a cup final with last year’s FA Cup Final loss.
Sunderland should not be underestimated. They got this far by being a scrappy, hard to beat team that got the job done. They can come away from this with a win, but they will need to be organized, smart, and take their chances well.
Their most recent meeting was postponed due to weather while previously Sunderland came through as 1-0 winners at home. This was preceded by a 1-0 Sunderland home win in last year’s meeting. Manchester City won in their home matchup last year 3-0.
Betting Odds (via Ladbrokes):
Manchester City win: 3/10; Draw: 4/1; Sunderland win: 9/1
Recent Form: Man City (W, L, D, W, L, W) Sunderland (W, W, W, L, W, L)
Prediction: Manchester City 3 – 1 Sunderland
Location: Wembley Stadium, London
TV Schedule: beIN Sport
Manchester City (4-2-2-2): Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Dimichelis, Kolarov, Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri, Silva, Negredo, Aguero; Subs – Pantilimon, Dzeko, Navas, Jovetic, Clichy, Milner, Lescott
Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Mannone, Bardsley, Brown, O’Shea, Alonso, Cattermole, Johnson, Sung-Yueng, Colback, Borini, Fletcher; Subs – Ustari, Giaccherini, Altidore, Gardner, Celustka, Larsson, Vergini