On Sunday, the season’s first major silverware is up for grabs as Manchester City take on Sunderland in the final of the Capital One Cup.
Man City will come into this as clear favourites, and manager Manuel Pellegrini will be looking to win the first trophy of what he hopes will be a sizeable haul during his time at the club. The Chilean’s side were rarely troubled on their way to Wembley, scoring 19 goals and conceding just the one in their five matches.
Many of the squad will be desperate to right the wrongs of last season, where they failed to win a trophy and suffered Wembley disappointment due to their shock FA Cup final defeat to Wigan Athletic, but they cannot underestimate a Sunderland side which has saved its best performances for the cup competitions this season.
With only three goals scored in their last five games, in the absence of Sergio Aguero, Man City’s recent form has been patchy, meaning they have slipped a little behind Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for the Premier League title. They will also be mindful of the fact that Sunderland beat them in the last meeting between the two clubs back in November.
While Man City reached the final with minimal fuss, the Black Cats could not have managed it any more dramatically. In trouble against Milton Keynes Dons as early as the second round, they have since gone on to beat Chelsea when it seemed they were going out, and then stun Manchester United on penalties in a classic semi-final second leg.
And although manager Gustavo Poyet continues to see his side struggle in the Premier League, he would like nothing better than to lead Sunderland to their first major trophy since 1973, and their first ever League Cup title, but they must put in a considerably better performance than the one they produced at Arsenal last time out.
Man City will be hoping that Aguero will be fit enough to play a part, but fellow striker Stevan Jovetic definitely misses out as well as defender Matija Nastasic.
Defender Wes Brown returns for Sunderland after a two match ban and is likely to replace Santiago Vergini. Liam Bridcutt is cup-tied, having played in the tournament for Brighton & Hove Albion earlier in the campaign.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Man