Capital One Cup Final Preview: Man City v Sunderland
Manchester City playmaker Samir Nasri is hoping he can end his miserable record at Wembley in their Capital One Cup final against Sunderland on Sunday.
The French international has only tasted bitter disappoint at the national stadium in cup finals having lost to Wigan Athletic and Birmingham with City and Arsenal respectively.
Having been expected to secure silverware in his last two cup finals, Nasri is not willing to take anything for granted when they face the Black Cats this weekend. He said: “At the moment Wembley has unhappy memories for me.
“After losing two finals there, it is time for me to win one. They were similar games and I want to avoid the same thing happening.
“We were heavy favourites to win both finals, just as we are this time. The memories still hurt, and what is worse is that at the end of the season the teams that beat us went down.”
February has not been so smooth for City who have suffered two defeats in five – to Chelsea and Barcelona admittedly – while drawing with Norwich, getting revenge on Mourinho’s men and beating Stoke last time out. Their record for the month reads: P5, W2, D1, L2, F3, A3.
Is it a coincidence that their poor run has coincided with Sergio Aguero‘s latest absence? Well, they coped without him during a 10 game unbeaten run in December and January, but news that Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko have been carrying injuries explains the lack of goals throughout the month and exposes a current weakness in the City side.
Aguero could return for the final, but will he be fully fit? The Argentinian has been world-class this season but he looks increasingly fallible and the health of Negredo, Dzeko or Stevan Jovetic is not entirely clear. All four are fantastic players but none can be relied upon it would seem.
The Black Cats would, on one hand, like to emulate Birmingham in 2011 by defeating illustrious opposition in the final. But, on the other hand, Alex McLeish’s side also went down at the end of the 2010/11 and that fate is a distinct possibility for the Wearside club, who sit 18th in the table and trade at 2.74 to go down.
Except for Steven Fletcher, Gus Poyet has no injuries to deal with and should be able to select his first choice XI. Whether he knows exactly who is in that team is open to question – the Uruguayan was questioning his players after a 4-1 thrashing at Arsenal last time out.
What Poyet can draw on is a good recent head-to-head record against City – Sunderland have only lost one of their last five games against Manchester City, winning three and drawing once. All those wins came by a 1-0 scoreline.
There is no question that Manuel Pellegrini has the superior team, but Sunderland have improved strongly under Poyet. Prior to the Arsenal defeat his team had won seven of the 11 games in all competitions since the turn of the year.
Anyone looking to get behind the underdogs in some way might want to look at the Asian Handicap where Sunderland are 2.03 to back receiving a 1.5 goal start.
Another tactic could be a back of draw/City in the halftime/fulltime market. Might Sunderland be able to hold the favourites for 45 minutes but lose the second half? At 4.8 ????
Sunderland have developed a decent defence under Poyet, holding Southampton at bay in the FA Cup and shutting out north east rivals Newcastle in early February.
It wouldn’t be a huge surprise were City to win this 1-0 or 2-0, while we know that Sunderland love to beat City by a single goal to nil.
However, we’re going in the under 2.5 goals market….
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