Man City vs Sunderland: Predicted lineups
Currently the competition is sleazily branded 'The Capital One Cup' - Capital One being a small time credit card company that have absolutely nothing to do with football, previously and more famously it had also been named 'The Carling Cup' but I too feel this commercialisation took away any sort of respectability from it as a trophy and any significance to it being a genuine trophy to a team's busy schedule...but onto what really matters, the football.
A bit of history between the two sides to begin with... Sunderland, over the last 4 years, have appropriately been named Manchester City's 'bogie' team, this being because City have been beaten for 4 years consecutively when they have travelled up to the north east to play the Wearside club.
The Stadium of Light has really not been a stadium of which Manchester City have had very fond memories. 1-0 wins after 90 minutes of sheer domination from City is what seems to be the case once the final whistle is normally blown at Sunderland, but maybe I'm being biased, perhaps Sunderland have just been more clinical and we've wasted far too many of the chances we've created. Something City won't want come Sunday.
Sunderland, under Gus Poyet, have quite frankly been excellent this season. In his short time at the club he has completely changed the way they play and this season has seen Sunderland produce some much improved football. Their crucial 3-0 win at bitter rivals Newcastle in the Tyne-Wear derby not so long ago just highlights how far they've come under Poyet. Sunderland have had a great competition up until now, dispatching teams like Chelsea, Manchester United and Southampton along the way.
Their dramatic semi-final at Old Trafford, which saw them win a penalty shoot-out, just shows that Manchester City cannot write off their opponents come Sunday. Manchester City, on the other-hand, have had a much easier run in. Teams like Leicester City, Wigan Athletic and West Ham, the game against West Ham being a game which they won 9-1 over two legs, have been their opponents. It is set to be a great game, with no-one knowing what the final outcome will be. The game will be hotly contested and it should be a great day out for both sets of fans.
Vincent Kompany vs Fabio Borini- Kompany, being one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League, should make easy work of the Italian but Borini's goal-scoring form in the Premier League and The League Cup has been commendable to say the least. Remember that it was his goal that put all things square in their quarter final tie against Chelsea last December. Winner: Kompany.
Adam Johnson vs Pablo Zabaleta: Being an ex-City player the English winger will know all about the Argentine, not only this but Johnson has been in excellent form of late, winning the January player of the month in the Premier League and putting in some stellar performances for the Black Cats. Zabaleta will be looking to have Johnson on lock-down, though the tricky winger could prove difficult for the right-back. But, Zabaleta is a cultured defender and knows all about playing against tough opposition. Winner: Johnson.
Alvaro Negredo vs John O'Shea: City's big Spaniard has been ridiculously good this season. With 23 goals already in all competitions, he'll be looking to add a few more to his tally in this game. He'll have to get past Irish international John O'Shea first, who has been solid this season, providing good performances throughout, but I feel that this duel is already won. Negredo's physicality and ruthlessness in front of goal will prove to be too much of a nightmare for the 6ft 3' centre-back. Winner: Negredo.
MCFC: Hart; Zabaleta-Kompany-Demichelis-Kolarov; Fernandinho-Yaya Touré; Silva-Nasri; Negredo-Agüero or Džeko.
SAFC: Mannone; Bardsley-O'Shea-Brown-Alonso; Cattermole-Colback; Ki-Johnson; Borini-Altidore or Fletcher.
Venue: Wembley Arena