Football League Cup 2014: Manchester City vs. Sunderland Prediction and Preview

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Football League Cup 2014: Manchester City vs. Sunderland Prediction and Preview
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Who will reign supreme in the Capital One Cup final?

Manchester City take on Sunderland at Wembley, with the opportunity to see their name etched into the League Cup trophy at stake.

The Citizens last tasted cup glory after their 1-0 win against Stoke City in 2011, and they will be looking for revenge after their appalling display which saw the side lose last year's FA Cup final against Wigan Athletic.

Manuel Pellegrini's men could still win four trophies this season, and he will be hoping that victory against Sunderland will prove the catalyst as his side look to conquer on the domestic and European stage.

However, it's a different story for Sunderland, who will step out for their first cup final in 22 years when they take on the two-time League Cup winners at Wembley.

The Black Cats will see the game as a welcome distraction from their Premier League survival dogfight. Manager Gus Poyet will be looking to overcome his own demons in this competition, after playing in Tottenham Hotspur's 2-1 defeat against Blackburn Rovers in 2001.

However, the Uruguayan has tasted success in this contest—albeit as Juande Ramos's assistant—after Spurs' 2-1 win over Chelsea at Wembley in 2008.

 

Sunderland's day in the sun?

Scott Heppell/Associated Press

With the chance to make history, in a season where Poyet's men face yet another test to stay in England's top tier, league woes will be long forgotten—well, for 90 minutes at least.

If history is anything to go by, Black Cats' supporters should be looking to their mammoth test against Manchester City as one of promise, rather than one of despair.

Last year's FA Cup win by Wigan Athletic highlighted, once again, that the so-called big boys of English football do not necessarily always get their own way.

This was also proved as Spurs overcame Chelsea six years ago and Bradford saw off Wigan, Arsenal and two legs against Aston Villa en-route to the League Cup final last term.

Excellent form from the side en-route to the final has paved the way for expectation of a win against City, after overcoming Premier League sides Southampton and Chelsea: 

Fabio Borini's late leveler against Chelsea, and the winner from Ki, led the side into the two-leg semi-final against Manchester United.

From there, the side showed cup spirit to knock out David Moyes' side on penalties and prove that they are a match for any of the top clubs in England.

Commentator for talkSPORT Mike Parry has also backed Sunderland for the win and questioned City's resolve:

Sunderland also boast three wins and one defeat in their last six games away from the Stadium of Light, and they will be looking to continue their excellent form on the road as they look to give their fans something to shout about on the full-time whistle.

 

Pride at stake for Pellegrini's men

Jon Super/Associated Press
Better luck this year? City look to overcome last year's Wembley agony.

Last year's defeat at Wembley left many City fans, as well as the rest of the watching public, scratching their heads as to how the side failed to claim victory against relegation-bound Wigan Athletic.

A lethargic, and often uninspiring, performance by the Citizens on the day highlighted real issues for then-manager Roberto Mancini, as his highly-priced starting side failed to muster the opportunities to put the Latics under pressure:

This time around, though, City fans will be expecting nothing but an inspired and committed performance by their side, who still compete in four competitions this year—knowing that a victory at Wembley could inspire their team to continue on their jaunt for a silverware haul.

Sergio Aguero looks set to return to action, as tweeted by Sky Sports News, after his return from a one-month injury lay-off:

Fernandinho also looks set to feature in his first City cup final, and he told the Express' Graham Chase that he must take his chance to earn his first piece of silverware in England:

It would be a good start for me here in England in my first season, to win the first competition available.

In England, each game is difficult. The performance of the team always has to be very good to win. This is the main difference between football in England and where I’ve played previously.

I have no doubt that Sunday will be like this against Sunderland and we must be at our best to make sure we get to lift the trophy. We have a chance to win the Capital One Cup and we will try to do it. We always want to win every competition we are in and this is a very important tournament.

Victory in London would also seal Pellegrini's first piece of silverware as City manager and justify the club's decision to part company with Roberto Mancini last summer.

 

Prediction:

It's going to be a tough afternoon for both sides and an affair that I predict will be fast-paced, frantic and with plenty of chances for both sides.

However, I can't see past a Sunderland win on this occasion, perhaps, because you can never discredit the underdog's chance of causing an upset on the big stage.

City have been made strong favorites by most to claim victory against their Premier League counterparts, with the returning Aguero likely to feature alongside either Edin Dzeko or Alvaro Negredo.

The forward trio have scored 13 goals between them in the League Cup this season, but Sunderland's resilience in previous rounds against Chelsea and Manchester United have proved that they have the staying power to rival English football's elite and take their first cup win since 1973.

Manchester City 1-2 Sunderland.

 

You can follow me on Twitter @DanBrett90, for more insight, analysis and predictions from the beautiful game.

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