This weekend, Manchester City will be going for their third successive Carabao Cup triumph in a row, with a chance of becoming only the second team ever to achieve such a feat. Standing in their way are an Aston Villa side who have battled through against four Premier League opponents to reach the final.
When the two teams met just a few weeks ago at Villa Park, it turned into something of a nightmare for Aston Villa as Manchester City ran out 6-1 winners and the visitors were 5-0 up against the home side at half time. Villa boss Dean Smith will now know the sheer scale of the challenge that is facing him in this contest while Manchester City fans will only have to have a look at the record books to feel very confident that their team will land yet another trophy under Pep Guardiola.
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Let’s now take a closer look at the two teams contesting the final this weekend, and a little history of this popular and often underrated competition.
Football League Cup Winners
Villa have won the tournament five times, Manchester City have six wins, including four in the last six years. A win for City here today would see them claim five wins in seven years. A remarkable achievement. A Villa win would be their first League Cup win since 1996 when they beat Leeds 3-0 at Wembley.
- Most Successful League Cup Teams
Total number of wins shown of the Football League Cup
- Liverpool – 8
- Manchester City – 6
- Manchester United, Aston Villa, Chelsea – 5
- Tottenham, Nottingham Forest – 4
- Leicester City – 3
- Arsenal, Norwich City, Birmingham City, Wolves – 2
- WBA, QPR, Middlesbrough, Leeds Utd, Stoke City, Luton Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Swindon Town, Oxford United, Blackburn Rovers and Swansea City – 1
The tournament was first contested back in 1960 when Aston Villa became the first holders of the trophy, defeating Rotherham in what was then a two-legged final played home and away.
Carabao Cup Final Preview
It’s been a tough season for Villa domestically, although they have produced some excellent performances in this competition. Wins over Midlands rivals Wolves and Leicester were particularly eye-catching, with the 5-0 quarterfinal defeat of Liverpool only being so convincing due to Liverpool fielding a youth team due to their first team being away in Qatar for the Club World Cup.
How Aston Villa reached Wembley
- First Round – Bye
- Second Round – Crewe 1-6 Aston Villa (Konsa, Hourihane 2, Davis, Guilbert, Grealish)
- Third Round – Brighton 1-3 Aston Villa (Jota, Hourihane, Grealish)
- Fourth Round – Aston Villa 2-1 Wolves (El Ghazi, Elmohamady)
- Quarter Final – Aston Villa 5-0 Liverpool (Hourihane, Boyes OG, Kodjia 2, Wesley)
- Semi Final 1st Leg – Leicester City 1-1 Aston Villa (Guilbert)
- Semi Final 2nd Leg – Aston Villa 2-1 Leicester (Targett, Trezeguet) (Villa win 3-2 on agg)
Aston Villa Squad
- Goalkeepers – Reina, Nyland, Heaton (inj), Steer, Sarkic
- Defenders – Taylor, Elmohamady, Guilbert, Targett, Hause, Mings, Ngoyo, Engels
- Midfielders – McGinn (inj), Lansbury, Grealish, Hourihane, Jota, El Ghazi, Trezeguet, Douglas Luiz, Nakamba, Drinkwater
- Strikers – Davis, Wesley (inj), Archer, Vassilev, Baston, Samatta
Possible Villa Team – 5-4-1 – Nyland, Guilbert, Targett, Hause, Mings, Engels, Nakamba, Douglas Luiz, Grealish, El Ghazi, Jota, Samatta
Although well off the pace being set by Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table, Manchester City are still on target to win this competition and could still land the FA Cup and Champions League too this season. They have made steady progress in this competition with the only blip being their second leg semifinal defeat at home to Man Utd which didn’t prove fatal in the end to their hopes.
How Man City reached Wembley
- First Round – Bye
- Second Round – Bye
- Third Round – Preston 0-3 Man City (Sterling, Jesus, Ledson OG)
- Fourth Round – Man City 3-1 Southampton (Otamendi, Aguero 2)
- Quarter Final – Oxford Utd 1-3 Man City (Cancelo, Sterling 2)
- Semi Final 1st Leg – Man Utd 1-3 Man City (Silva, Mahrez, Pereira OG)
- Semi Final 2nd Leg – Man City 0-1 Man Utd (City win 3-2 on aggregate)
Man City Squad
- Goalkeepers – Ederson, Bravo, Carson
- Defenders – Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy, Otamendi, Zinchenko, Cancelo, Garcia
- Midfielders – Fernandinho, Gundogan, Foden, Silva.D, de Bruyne, Rodrigo, Silva.B
- Strikers – Sterling, Mahrez, Sane, Jesus, Aguero
Possible Man City Team – 4-3-3 – Ederson, Walker, Mendy, Fernandinho, Laporte, Gundogan, Foden, de Bruyne, Silva.B, Sterling, Aguero
Carabao Cup Final Tips
Given that Manchester City have totally dominated recent ties with Aston Villa, racking up wins of 4-0 (twice), 3-0 and 6-1 in the last four games, it is hard to make any case for Villa to win the game and indeed the bookmakers feel the same with Manchester City the 1/6 favourites to win the match in the Full Time Result Market.
However, I would not back City at those odds as they are a little too short, but there are some other options available. Kevin de Bruyne to score at any time at 7/4 is a great bet as the Belgian could well be Manchester City’s new spot kick taker after another rmiss last weekend and he has a knack of scoring goals in the big games.
You can also get good odds on Manchester City to score and both teams to score, which is a15/8 chance chiefly because not many pundits think Villa will score, however City’s defence is not impregnable and I think from set pieces or a moment of magic from Jack Grealish, City could well concede a goal.
Finally, if you wanted a correct score bet you can get 10/1 on Manchester City winning 3-1 or even 14/1 on a 4-1 victory for City.