EFL Cup
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Back ’em Mackems to cause City cup surprise

Manchester City (3/10 to win) have scored 19 times and conceded just once in their five Capital One Cup fixtures this season. However, four out of the five teams to reach the final letting in one goal or none in the earlier rounds have gone on to lose.

The Citizens could hardly have done a better job in reaching this match on March 2nd with four clean sheets – Leicester being the only club to net once – but they will know that they are facing their bogey side of recent seasons in Sunderland (7/1 to win).

A whopping 33 points and 15 places separate the two in the Premier League (City in third, the Black Cats 18th), but past head-to-heads tell a completely different story.

In their last five match-ups, Sunderland have won three and lost just once. They have also come out 1-0 victors in each of their last four home games over City, and you can back them at an enticing 33/1 for a repeat scoreline after 90 minutes.

Both clubs have League Cup final experience. Man City have played in three, winning twice in 1970 and 1976, and interestingly the result in all of those games was 2-1. Odds of 8/1 say Manuel Pellegrini’s side can do it again, while Sunderland look less likely to achieve that feat at 33/1.

The Black Cats’ sole League Cup final appearance came in the 1984/85 season, where they lost to Norwich City 1-0, and Gus Poyet will be determined to give it his all to try and provide Sunderland’s first piece of major silverware since the FA Cup in 1973.

Uruguayan Poyet said: “The feeling of winning something is far beyond going down, spending two years in the Championship.”

It remains to be seen if Pellegrini will field his strongest possible XI, as he looks to win an unprecedented quadruple this season – despite the uphill task – or if he will prefer to mix the team up from the side that lost 2-0 to Barcelona in the Champions League.

Fringe players Joleon Lescott and Javi Garcia have played in all of City’s five Capital One Cup games leading up to the final. Costel Pantilimon, Dedryck Boyata, Aleksandar Kolarov, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko, meanwhile, have all taken part in four.

Pellegrini could decide to stick to his guns and trust the players who helped the club reach Wembley. Striking duo Dzeko and Negredo have each scored six apiece in the competition this season, and with Sergio Aguero still unsure of a return, they look certain to start.

Spaniard Negredo hit a hat-trick and bagged a brace in the two semi-final legs against West Ham, so back him at 3/1 to get two or more again, or 8/11 to net anytime. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s main World Cup attacking threat Dzeko has two doubles in his last two League Cup appearances, and has odds of 5/1 for a repeat feat or higher. He is at evens to score anytime.

If Sunderland, however, can somehow hold back City’s fire power, like they did in their 1-0 league win earlier in November, it seems their main threat will come from former Sky Blue Adam Johnson – who has nine goals in all competitions this season.

The 26-year-old has three goals in eight in this fixture, including two for City, and scored the winner last season for his new side. Back the England World Cup squad hopeful at 6/1 to score at anytime.

City and Sunderland have faced each other just twice in League Cup history, both being in the same round way back in the 1979/80 season. After a 1-1 draw at the Citizens’ old home Maine Road, a replay was decided at Roker Park where The Mackems came out 1-0 victors.

You can bet at 10/1 for the game to finish 1-1 after normal time again, with the same odds for City to win after extra time (Sunderland 20/1) and 20/1 on penalties (Sunderland 22/1).