Talking Points: Who will win the Capital One Cup?
- 26 February 2016 16:30
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc
The 56th League Cup final is upon us. City are bidding for a fourth triumph in the competition against Liverpool who’ve won it nine times.
It promises to be an epic showdown but where will the trophy be won and lost? Here are five things to watch at Wembley on Sunday afternoon…
Wilfried Bony and Jesus Navas have both returned to training and are in line to return to the squad for Sunday’s showpiece.
That brings City back up to a more healthy quota of 15 senior players to choose from – a timely boost at such a crunch period in the season.
The identities of those two returning internationals could be telling on a tactical front too… players will tell you that it feels like a bigger pitch at Wembley, meaning Jesus’s speed and ability to stretch a game could be pivotal – as it was in the 2014 final against Sunderland where he scored.
Could Jesus and Wilfried be deployed as tactical substitutes if things aren’t going City’s way on Sunday? That’s what happened in the decisive Champions League win over Borussia Monchengladbach at the Etihad and it paid off handsomely.
In Yaya Toure, City have a player with a happy knack for coming up with the heavy goals when they really matter, especially at Wembley.
Excellent in midweek against Dynamo Kyiv, Toure scored the pick of the three goals in the 3-1 win and will be aiming to down a Liverpool side which could contain his brother.
Yaya has never beaten Kolo in a competitive match in three attempts – we reckon Sunday afternoon would be a good time for the younger of the two Ivorians to set that record straight.
City have only been able to field - what many consider to be - our core five players on a handful of occasions so far this season.
Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero all took to the field at the same time against Dynamo Kyiv on Wednesday night and, although it’s difficult to quantify the impact of this one factor, there’s no doubt we looked as solid and authoritative as we have all season.
Manuel Pellegrini should be able to field this experienced quintet once again at Wembley which could be a decisive boost as City look for revenge on their Merseyside rivals.
Kompany and Silva both missed the ill-fated Etihad Stadium meeting between the sides, while Aguero and Toure were both short of full fitness, playing just 66 and 45 minutes respectively.
Incredibly, the Capital One Cup final will take place 40 years ago to the day on from City’s second triumph in the competition.
Dennis Tueart’s bicycle kick winner is the iconic and enduring image from the day Tony Book’s Blues overcame Newcastle to lift the trophy under Wembley’s famous twin towers.
It adds an extra dash of seasoning to what is already a palate-enticing clash between Merseyside Red and Manchester Blue.
Liverpool stunned City at the Etihad in the November Premier League game.
The Merseysiders were three up inside 32 minutes, eventually winning 4-1, in a performance that will have stung Blues fans and players alike.
But if that was a battle lost, the 15/16 war will be decided over the next two encounters, first at Wembley and then at Anfield on Wednesday in the league return.
Bring it on…