Sunderland planning to gatecrash Manchester Wembley party
As was widely anticipated, Manchester City made short work of a sorry West Ham in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final on Wednesday, although few will have expected it to be quite as emphatic as 6-0.
And such has been Manchester United’s form in the New Year that it was no surprise either that they were beaten 2-1 by Sunderland in the other semi-final.
So we are left with one dead second leg tie and one potential thriller. West Ham’s return fixture against what will probably be a shadow City XI may simply be another opportunity for protest on the terraces, but United against Sunderland at Old Trafford is set up perfectly after Tuesday’s events at the Stadium of Light.
Coral now bet 4/9 City winning the League Cup for the first time since 1976 with their Red neighbours 9/4, Sunderland 8/1 and West Ham 500/1.
But though the Hammers are now clearly out of it, there is no guarantee of an all-Manchester party at Wembley on March 2nd. Sunderland may be propping up the Premier League at the moment, but they have shown distinct signs of a revival under Gus Poyet and are by no means a hopeless case.
What is more, they were really up for the fight against United and although it will probably be a lot tougher in the second leg later this month in front of home fans baying for what they see as their only realistic chance of a trophy this season, the Black Cats do have a precious lead to defend.
David Moyes thought that United were unlucky with refereeing decisions and he might have a point about the winning penalty. But these things happen. More worryingly, this was hardly the dominant, superior United we have come to expect down the years in games of this nature.
Coral go 2/5 that United qualify for the final, 15/8 Sunderland.
City meanwhile look ever more invincible at the Etihad. Yes, West Ham were poor and offered less resistance than their fans were entitled to expect, but you can’t argue with six goals and it could quite easily have been more.
If City were to meet United in the final this weekend, you would have to side strongly with the Premiership 10/11 favourites rather than the current champions. Their confidence levels are as high now as United’s are low.
But two months down the line, maybe with a significant signing or two, things might be different. Or, looked at another way, United may still be stuck in a rut and it will actually be Sunderland facing City in London.