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League Cup

  • March 2, 2014
  • • 9:00 AM
  • • Wembley Stadium, London
  • Referee: M. Atkinson
  • • Attendance: 84697
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Capital One Cup Final Preview: Manchester City - Sunderland

Capital One Cup Final Preview: Manchester City - Sunderland

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The Blues lost at Wembley last season and Manuel Pellegrini will want to make amends for losing 1-0 to Poyet's underdogs earlier this season.

Gus Poyet needs to mastermind arguably the biggest shock of the season if Sunderland are to beat Manchester City in Sunday's Capital One Cup final.

While Poyet has already guided Sunderland to a 1-0 win over City in the Premier League clash at the Stadium of Light back in November, this weekend's Wembley showpiece represents an altogether different challenge for his players.

City has displayed excellent form since that reverse, securing victory in 20 out of 25 games in all competitions.

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Factor in that Manuel Pellegrini's men have plundered 19 goals in their five League Cup ties in 2013-14, and that the two sides are battling at opposite ends of the Premier League, and it's easy to why City is heavily tipped to win the competition for the first time since 1976.

Pellegrini, though, is right to be wary of Sunderland, which has also raised plenty of eyebrows with its cup exploits.

"Sunderland also have a lot of motivation to win, exactly the same as we do," the Chilean said. "Maybe we are the favorites, but we cannot forget that Sunderland eliminated Chelsea and Manchester United, big teams. They are defiant. I am sure it will be a very close game."

City fans and players alike will not need reminding of what happened when they last made the trip to Wembley in May as overwhelming favorites to leave with silverware. Ben Watson's stoppage-time header settled the FA Cup final and put Wigan Athletic supporters in dreamland.

Pellegrini is boosted by the availability of 26-goal striker Sergio Aguero, who has been missing since the end of January with a hamstring injury. The possible return of Aguero is offset by the loss of Stevan Jovetic (hamstring) and Matija Nastasic (knee).

As Sunderland prepares to return to the capital a week after last Saturday's 4-1 defeat at Arsenal in the Premier League, Poyet has hailed City as "one of the best teams in the world."

Knockout competitions - Sunderland is also into the last eight of the FA Cup - have provided Poyet's side with a welcome platform to build on as the club battles to preserve top-flight status.

Extra time was needed to see off Chelsea in the League Cup quarterfinals before Sunderland stunned Manchester United on penalties at Old Trafford in the semis.

The Wearside club now has the opportunity to end a 41-year wait for silverware, stretching back to the famous FA Cup triumph as a second-tier side in 1973, when Leeds United was stunned in the final.

Sunderland skipper John O'Shea has urged his teammates to savor the occasion against City.

He said: "It's a chance to win a major trophy for Sunderland, and to create a bit of history as well, so it's a massive game and one you can only really enjoy if you come out on top."

Winger Adam Johnson will be particularly keen to make an impact for Sunderland as he faces his old club. The 26-year-old heads into the game having scored seven goals in his last nine outings.

January signing Liam Bridcutt, who has started Sunderland's last three Premier League games, is cup-tied and joins goalkeeper Keiren Westwood (shoulder) in missing the game.

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