Liverpool will meet Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley on Sunday with both sides in contention to lift what is traditionally the first trophy to be decided in the English football season.
The last time the two played was at the Etihad Stadium back in November, where Liverpool ran away with the match 4-1. It was the Reds best result since Jurgen Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers as manager. But it’s worth noting at the time, Manchester was besot with injured key players.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team has no such injury issues heading into Sunday’s clash at Wembley. With Wilfried Bony, Jesus Navas, Vincent Kompany, Bacary Sagna and Raheem Sterling all available for selection, Klopp’s side will face a full strength Manchester City. Both managers will be hot to get their hands on that trophy: Klopp because it’s a chance to win his first trophy in England and Pellegrini because it’s a chance to win what could be his last. A win for Liverpool would see the Reds lift their first trophy in four years while a win for Manchester would be the latest in a five-year run that’s seen them win the FA Cup, two Premier Leagues, the League Cup and the Community Shield.
On paper, Manchester City definitely has the edge: They’ve got better players, more money, and a track record of recent success. They handily dispensed with Dynamo Kiev with a 3-1 win in the Champions League in midweek, and, despite their ups-and-downs, are still technically in contention to win the Premier League title. But as we’ve seen this season in England, anything can happen in football. This Liverpool side showed in November they have what it takes to hurt Manchester. Philippe Coutinho ran riot in that match and if he’s allowed to do so again, Manchester could find themselves in real trouble.
Daniel Sturridge is another player Klopp will have available Sunday who’s capable of inflicting damage to Manchester. If they are to keep Liverpool contained, it will be up to the likes of Yaya Toure and Kompany to try and keep Coutinho and Sturridge at bay, respectively. Then, there is Raheem Sterling: the player who left Liverpool to join Manchester City and win trophies. He’ll have his chance come Sunday at Wembley, where he’ll undoubtedly receive a special “welcome” from Liverpool fans.
With both teams still alive in Europe, – Liverpool in the Europa League – this is not yet their last chance for a trophy this season, but it is their first and probably their best shot.