This Sunday sees two sides from the North West making their way down to London for this years Capital One Cup Final, with Wembley playing hosts to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool taking on Manuel Pelligrini’s Manchester City. So who is going to come out on top? With both sides lifting this trophy in recent years bookmakers are leaning towards Manchester City to lift the trophy once again. But Liverpool will up for this one, with the aforementioned Klopp in search of what he and Liverpool fans would like to think could be the first of many trophies in this new era for the Merseysiders. However after the way it appears he has been treated in regards to Pep Guardiola taking over at Man City next season, a lot of the football community wouldn’t begrudge Pelligrini lifting as many trophies as possible, starting with the League Cup.
But after the mauling of City by the Red men at the Etihad earlier this season they will be in high spirits. Both sides have had European success this week so will be roaring and ready to go on Sunday. So just where will this years cup end up? Well I have being weighing up the final and have concluded that it shall be won based on three key battles.
Jordan Henderson vs Vincent Kompany
Now this may look like an odd battle to start with but just bear with me, its going somewhere. The two captains will be one of the key battles not just because they will be looking to be the ones lifting the trophy but because they possess the biggest role on the pitch during the game. The captain has to get his team psyched up for the game, something Kompany is known for especially after the victory in Kiev in midweek. The question is not who is the best captain, as that is clearly Kompany, but who is best leader on the day. Now we all know Liverpool were a different animal with Steven Gerrard leading from the front, not just because of his ability as a player but his ability to get the best out of his team mates. Gerrard was a natural born leader, like John Terry and Alan Shearer at both domestic and international levels. If Henderson can emulate the man he replaced as captain then I can see his team mates playing for and with him, and could be on his way up those steps come full time to lift the odd three handled trophy.
My prediction is that Kompany will come out on top in this one. Both men have just returned from lengthy injury spells this term so whilst they may have some rustiness to their game it will come down to leadership and motivation, something no one comes close to in the Premier League as it stands. 1-0 City
James Milner vs Raheem Sterling
This one, is a good one. This time 12 months ago these two were playing for the opposite teams but after Sterling’s £49 million move and Milner’s bosman free transfer to City they will be facing up to ex-teammates and friends on the other side. Who has the nerve and determination to not let this affect you? Who has the nerve for the big stages? Personally I think Milner has to be stronger of the two in terms of character on the pitch (probably off it too) and will always give you 100% on the field, an attribute that is rare in modern football and an attribute that has earned Milner praise from teammates past and present as well as fans and pundits. Milner will be lining up on the right side of the midfield whether its out on the wing or on the right side of the midfield trio, so chances are he will be going up against Sterling physically throughout the 90 minutes.
Sterling is an incredible talent however. He has spent most of this season trying to justify his price tag which he has done at various points throughout the season. I have been impressed with Sterling’s increased maturity at points this season too, even if he has showed off some dodgy hairstyles along the way but then again haven’t we all. I think the battle will be a close one but Milner just shades it for me. 1-1.
Daniel Sturridge vs Sergio Aguero
This one isn’t as black and white as it seems. In one corner we have Aguero. Probably in the top three strikers in the world (chill out, Messi and Ronaldo are NOT strikers), and in the other we have Sturridge, a man who on his day is unplayable and on his day would rival the likes of Aguero, Lewandowski and Suarez (the top 3). If the service is good enough for Sturridge then I really can see him scoring a goal (or two). However, Aguero has the ability to make something out of nothing, as does Sturridge to some extent but Aguero is that little bit extra of World-Class quality that Liverpool have been lacking since Suarez left. They are both likely to play and therefore for me makes them both likely to score goals. Will one of them score the decisive goal? Only time will tell but it wouldn’t be a shock if either of them did.
It will be a tight battle but I think Sergio Aguero is just that bit better than Sturridge. That bit better than Liverpool. For me it goes to City 2-1.
So that is the battles over with, now I shall leave you with a few tips for those gamblers out there. The first one is my “banker” and the likely bet that Manchester City will win the match 2-1. Skybet offers a modest 8/1, but add that with Sergio Aguero to score first I would happily take on a 25/1 shot. Worth a go.
My more outside shot is that of Manchester City youngster Kelechi Iheanacho to score the winner at a cracking 11/2. I always have the preference to back prices if they are “to 2” plus with his form and ability is this his moment to come off the bench (more than likely) and score the winner for City? I hope so, I think he is a good player with a bright future. Another bet would be Liverpool to win with Manchester City scoring, which is a very tempting 4/1 with Skybet, so whether or not you bet on the game (if you do, bet responsibly) enjoy the final and the first trophy up for grabs this season.