Capital One Cup final preview: Liverpool v Manchester City at Wembley
By Stephen Mills
Last Updated: 28/02/16 4:32pm
Two managers at opposite ends of their tenures with their current clubs are going in search of silverware when Liverpool play Manchester City in Sunday's Capital One Cup final at Wembley.
Jurgen Klopp took over at Liverpool last October and is looking to mark his first season in charge of the club with a trophy, while Manuel Pellegrini, who is to be replaced by Pep Guardiola this summer, knows this will be his final campaign in charge of City.
Liverpool's route to the final has not been simple. They needed penalties to get past Carlisle in the third round before knocking out Bournemouth and Southampton and winning their semi-final against Stoke via a penalty-shoot-out.
In contrast City enjoyed comprehensive wins over Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Hull before beating Everton 4-3 over two legs in their semi-final.
This will be Liverpool's 12th League Cup final, a record for the competition and they've lifted the trophy eight times including the 2012 win over Cardiff City. Meanwhile, Man City have been in four previous League Cup finals, winning in 1970, 1976 and most recently in 2014 against Sunderland.
Both sides won their European fixtures in midweek with City winning the first leg of their Champions League tie at Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday, while Liverpool knocked Augsburg out of the Europa League thanks to a 1-0 win at Anfield on Thursday.
Sunday's showpiece kicks off at 4.30pm with coverage starting on Sky Sports 1 at 4pm.
Wilfried Bony and Jesus Navas are expected to return to Manchester City's squad, along with defender Eliaquim Mangala - who has not played since early January but was an unused substitute at Dynamo Kiev. All three players trained fully on Friday.
City boss Pellegrini is hopeful captain Vincent Kompany, ex-Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling and Bacary Sagna will be fine to feature after undergoing recovery sessions away from the main group.
Goalkeeper Willy Caballero will start in goal ahead of Joe Hart and Bersant Celina, Manu Garcia and Aleix Garcia could all be in the squad, although Fabian Delph, Kevin De Bruyne and Samir Nasri are all long-term absentees.
Midfielders Adam Lallana and Joe Allen and defender Martin Skrtel have all returned to training with the Liverpool first team but may find it difficult to win a place in the squad at Wembley.
The first two have not featured since February 6 because of calf and hamstring problems while Skrtel has been sidelined since mid-December.
Fellow defender Dejan Lovren has recovered from illness earlier this week.
Klopp made just one change for Thursday's Europa League win over Augsburg and with Lucas Leiva occupying a role in defence in that game the manager has to decide whether to swap him with a genuine centre-back or a midfielder.
This will be the first final in any competition contested between Liverpool and City.
In cup competitions, Liverpool are unbeaten in their last eight against City (W6 D2), last being defeated by them in an FA Cup fourth-round replay in 1973.
Klopp has now reached a cup final in each of his last five seasons as a manager, but he has lost the last three.
City scored 17 times en route to the League Cup final, with nine different City players scoring in this year's competition (plus one own goal).
However, both teams have scored in each of City's five League Cup games this season.
All three of the goals Liverpool have conceded in this year's competition have come before half-time.
The last eight meetings in all competitions between these sides have produced 32 goals, with both teams finding the net in each match.
There has been at least one goal in each half in 10 of the last 11 League Cup finals. The exception was United and Tottenham's goalless draw in 2009.
If Liverpool can recapture the form that saw them dismantle Man City last time the two teams met, then they have a superb chance of lifting the trophy. I know City had a good result in midweek in Europe but travelling to Kiev is still an incredibly tough journey.
Liverpool have to take advantage of that and start well. If they start slowly and it gets into a bit of a war of attrition then City will have too much class for them. Klopp needs to get his side to start at a high tempo and then they can win this game. I'm siding with Liverpool and a 2-1 win. Daniel Sturridge is the man to grab the first goal at Wembley.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 to Liverpool
Manchester City are Sky Bet's 13/10 favourites to win the trophy in 90 minutes when they take on 2/1 shots Liverpool at Wembley. Liverpool are 5/4 to lift the trophy by any method. Sergio Aguero and Sturridge head the first scorer betting at 4/1 and 11/2 with both scoring in 90 minutes available at 5/1. The Sky Sports pundits are split on the destination of the trophy. Jamie Redknapp expects the final to go to extra-time, while Phil Thompson and Charlie Nicholas are backing Liverpool and City respectively. See all their selections and match odds here.