February 26, 2012 4:00 PM GMT
Wembley Stadium — London
Referee: M. Clattenburg
Cardiff City - Liverpool League Cup final Preview: Reds target first trophy in six years while Bluebirds look to spring underdog surprise
After conquering Crystal Palace in the last four, the Welsh side face a tall order beating the Reds, who knocked out Manchester City in the semis to become strong favourites
By Miles Chambers
McNaughton, Hudson, A Gerrard, Taylor
Cowie, Gunnarsson, Whittingham, McPhail, Conway
Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique
Adam, S Gerrard
Bellamy, Suarez, Kuyt
Cardiff goalkeeper Tom Heaton has recovered from an ankle injury and will start ahead of regular Championship starter David Marshall. Stephen McPhail is a doubt with an immune system disorder while club captain Mark Hudson will face a late fitness test to see if he can overcome a calf problem.
Daniel Agger is set to return to the heart of Liverpool’s defence after Kenny Dalglish opted to rest him in the side’s 6-1 thrashing of Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend in the fifth-round of the FA Cup. Craig Bellamy is available to face the club he played forv on loan last season, after being given an injection to soothe a back problem.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- The last trophy Liverpool won – six years ago – was won in Cardiff, at the Millennium Stadium. Pepe Reina, Agger and Jamie Carragher were the only men to start in that FA Community Shield victory over Chelsea who might feature on Sunday. Steven Gerrard came off the bench in the 2-1 win, as did Bellamy in his previous spell at Anfield.
- Cardiff have not won in six matches outside of Wales in 2012. Malky Mackay’s men have won every single home game, however.
- Both clubs have top goalscorers on 10 for the season – Luis Suarez for the Reds and Kenny Miller (pictured right) for the Bluebirds.
- The Merseyside club beat Manchester City over two legs to qualify for this Wembley showdown, their first appearance at the stadium since the 1996 FA Cup final. Cardiff beat Crystal Palace in a penalty shoot-out to become the first Championship side since Birmingham City in 2001 to reach the League Cup final. Coincidentally, the team who defeated the lower league club on that occasion were Liverpool.
- The Bluebirds have a remarkable record against the Reds, having won double the amount of games (18) than Liverpool have (nine), with two drawn matches.
- Last year Birmingham City won the League Cup – three months later they were relegated from the Premier League. Arsenal were seriously in the running for four separate trophies before their late loss against the Midlands club. Could this final be a poisoned chalice perhaps?
- The Welsh club have never appeared in a League Cup final before. Liverpool, on the other hand, are the most successful club in the cup’s history, winning on seven occasions (most recently in 2003) and finishing as runners-up three times.
- The only time the two teams have faced off in the League Cup was in 2007: Liverpool beat Cardiff 2-1 in a fourth-round clash at Anfield. However, in the previous five games between these two sides Cardiff finished as winners.
- Reds' goalkeeper Pepe Reina and City left-back Andrew Taylor are the only players to have played every minute of every League Cup match this season.
- Only once in the last seven instances has a side from outside the top flight won the League Cup, when Sheffield Wednesday triumphed over Manchester United in the 1990-91 season.
- Liverpool are only the second side ever (after Arsenal five years ago) to have reached the final of this competition having played just one home match.
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Top 3 Predictions
Cardiff 0-3 Liverpool
- 24.36 %
Cardiff 1-3 Liverpool
- 16.1 %
Cardiff 0-2 Liverpool
- 15.03 %
|Capital One Cup (CCUP)||26 Feb 2012||Cardiff 2 - Liverpool 2|
|Capital One Cup (CCUP)||31 Oct 2007||Liverpool 2 - Cardiff 1|
|4 May 2013||Hull City 2 - Cardiff 2||ENG2|
|27 Apr 2013||Cardiff 1 - Bolton Wanderers 1||ENG2|
|20 Apr 2013||Burnley 1 - Cardiff 1||ENG2|
|16 Apr 2013||Cardiff 0 - Charlton Athletic 0||ENG2|
|13 Apr 2013||Cardiff 3 - Nottingham Forest 0||ENG2|
|Returns:||Cardiff £290.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Returns:||Draw £55.00||Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Returns:||Liverpool £75.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|17||Aron Einar Gunnarsson||Midfielder|
|25||José Reina Paez||Goalkeeper|
Last year’s FA Cup final between Stoke City and Manchester City saw second-choice Potters' keeper Thomas Sorensen put in a dominant display. It’s entirely possible that we could see Heaton defy Kenny Dalglish’s strike force in a similar manner at Wembley on Sunday.
The England international has been back from injury for well over a month now and should be in peak condition. The other midfielders set to start alongside him are up for debate – Charlie Adam/Jordan Henderson; Dirk Kuyt/Stewart Downing – but the 31-year-old’s presence is all but guaranteed. The stage is set for the midfielder to lead Liverpool to their first trophy since 2006.
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