Manchester City choked in a major Wembley Stadium match last season and it has an ordinary head-to-head record against its English Capital One Cup final opponent, Sunderland.
Ten months ago and most punters thought that Wigan’s rugby league team had more chance of beating Manchester City in the English FA Cup final than the town’s football side but the history books show that the Latics triumphed 1-0 in the biggest decider upset since Wimbledon’s success in 1988.
And Sunderland has won each of its last four competitive games versus Manchester City that has not taken place in England’s cottonopolis, registering four 1-0 victories.
So should one back Sunderland to beat Manchester City in the English Capital One Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday or, at the very least, push the Citizens all the way?
No. Manchester City’s senior players, including club captain Vincent Kompany, have gone on the record to state that they are desperate to make amends for their English FA Cup final flop and, while the Citizens came up short in their UEFA Champions League first leg against Barcelona, they have the attacking arsenal to blow pretty much any team off the park. Remember that Manchester City beat Bayern Munchen 3-2 in Munich, a feat that no other side has managed this term.
Then there is the story behind Manchester City’s 0-1 English Premier League loss to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in November. Phillip Bardsley scored the goal that grabbed all the headlines but Sunderland was second best to Manchester City on every metric except the score. Manchester City had 16 shots to Sunderland’s four and the corner count ended 14-0 in favour of the English Premier League favourite. It was football’s equivalent of the Great Train Robbery. Also worth noting is that Manchester City was backing up after beating CSKA Moskva 5-2 in a UEFA Champions League Group D home match and that Citizens manager Manuel Pellegrini, in his wisdom, decided to make wholesale changes, obviously thinking that Sunderland would not be able to live with whichever 11 players took to the field in blue shirts. Pellegrini made five switches, three of which were in defensive positions, and Manchester City came unstuck.
Pellegrini has learned his lesson and Manchester City has a settle or four to score. As much as Sunderland has improved since Gus Poyet succeeded Paolo Di Canio in October, the only way for the Black Cats was up because they were an almighty, underachieving mess. But Sunderland remains poles apart from Manchester City in terms of quality and, if the Citizens break through early on, this year’s edition of the English Capital One Cup final could end up as lopsided as last year’s decider in which Swansea smashed Bradford 5-0.
The English Capital One Cup final’s one-off nature means that Sunderland will have nothing to lose and everything to gain from chasing the game if Manchester City jumps out to a lead. Therefore, since one fancies Manchester City to assert its superiority over Sunderland, the markets that appeal are those that enable one to bet on a wide-margin victory for the Citizens. So one has gone through the handicaps.
Manchester City is available at odds of 1.80 with Sky Bet and Stan James to beat Sunderland in the English Capital One Cup final by more than one goal. There would be nothing wrong in taking those odds but one prefers Paddy Power’s odds of 3.00 about Manchester City putting at least three goals between it and Sunderland in normal time.
Over two and a half goals in the English Capital One Cup final would have been a decent bet had bookmakers gone up with decent odds. Unfortunately, 888sport, Betway and Unibet are top of the tops with odds of 1.55 that Manchester City and Sunderland combine for more than two and a half goals. Backing Manchester City to win easily is the star play.
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