Tipster Will Burns takes a look at Sunday’s English League Cup final. Manchester City will aim to avoid an upset from a Sunderland side revitalised by Gus Poyet when they meet at Wembley. Good luck if your having a punt, and please click on one of our sponsors to have a bet to help us pay the bills. All Will’s tips are over EVENS so you can get yourself some value in the markets.
SUNDAY 2ND MARCH 2014
MANCHESTER CITY vs. SUNDERLAND
Did you know that Manchester City have a bogey club? That team is Sunday opponents, Sunderland who have only lost one of their last five games against Man City, winning three and drawing once.
The Black Cats have defeated them by 1-0 in four successive seasons on Wearside, and went on to prove it is not a the venue of the Stadium of Light that is the curse by being the only away side to claim a league point at the Etihad Stadium in City’s 2011/12 championship winning season.
On Sunday, at Wembley, both Gus Poyet and Manuel Pellegrini will see this a clean slate, a one-off game for all spoils, a chance to clinch their first trophy at their relatively new clubs.
Uruguayan Poyet, although still has his side in relegation trouble, has rejuvenated Sunderland’s season to guide them to only their third Wembley cup final of the last 29 years. For the North-East club, the game begins of a tough run of fixtures that will make or break their season. Over the next few months, they take on Champions League chasing sides or fellow relegation candidates in six pointers every week. This final could build momentum to fire them onto to safety and maybe another cup final in the FA Cup.
Not to take anything away from them, however, Sunderland had a particularly easy route to the final and the semi-final two-legged battle with Manchester United featured one of the most hilarious and pitiful penalty shootouts as player after player stepped up and hoofed balls wildly into the stratosphere.
Nevertheless, Sunderland are heading to Wembley this weekend and I can see Poyet attacking from the off, if they sit back they do not have a strong enough back four to put in a decent shift, as was proven by Arsenal last weekend when they defeated the Black Cats easily by four goals to one.
Safe in the knowledge that they have Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup at the Etihad next game, Manuel Pellegrini will field a strong side at Wembley. The big guns will be rolled out on Sunday, then rested in the FA Cup game with one eye on their Champions League second leg against Barcelona.
After an overwhelming few months scoring goals for fun seemingly every week, February has not been so smooth for City suffering two defeats in five, albeit to Chelsea and Barcelona admittedly. Wrap that up with a draw at Norwich, getting revenge on Mourinho’s men and defeating Stoke last time out. This run has coincided with not only in Sergio Aguero’s absence through injury but a downturn in the form of his fellow strikers. Spanish hitman Alvaro Negredo, who teared through teams for the most part this campaign, appears to have come to a halt, but apparently has been playing through a shoulder injury. Bosnian target man Edin Dzeko appears to be suffering a lack of confidence of late, his misses as of late show a striker lacking in conviction.
Back in training this week, Aguero could return for the final, but will he be up to the challenge? The Argentinean has been world-class this season but he looks increasingly mortal and the form of Negredo or Dzeko is not entirely optimistic. All three are fantastic players but none can be relied upon this Sunday it would seem so Pellegrini has a decision to make.
Pellegrini’s important judgment will be who features on City’s right wing? The Chilean has to choose between the width play of Jesus Navas, the possession holding of Samir Nasri, or cautious approach of the discipline and work-rate that James Milner brings. Navas will be most likely to be selected to start, but Pellegrini may be little more wary in his first cup final. Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov will compete for the left-back slot, with the Frenchman being the superior defender but the Russian’s set-piece delivery shouldn’t be underestimated.
Whatever the Chilean selects I see Manchester City winning this trophy over 90 minutes, but I feel Sunderland could show some resilience for a while, as City will also show caution to Sunderland’s attacks. Best bet for this one with be the scores level at half-time with City stepping up in the second half and Bet Victor are offering a huge 19/5 for this market.
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