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Manchester City a step too far for spirited Sunderland

| 01.03.2014

While Sunderland fans will be praying that it will be 1973 all over again at Wembley on Sunday, Manchester City supporters will be keeping their fingers crossed that it won’t be a repeat of their 2013 experience. Coral bet 3/10 City, 8/1 Sunderland and 5/1 the draw in the Capital One Cup Final, but there are several reasons for believing that this is no foregone conclusion.

On the face of it, this should be a fairly easy game to predict with City fighting for the Premier League title and Sunderland at the other end of the table fighting for survival.

But look beyond that and there are all sorts of reasons for the Black Cats to be optimistic and not just reliant on the spirit of Jim Montgomery and Ian Porterfield, whose heroics played such a huge role in that never-to-be-forgotten (certainly not on Wearside) afternoon at Wembley more than 40 years ago when they beat the then mighty Leeds United to win the FA Cup.

For a start there’s Sunderland impressive head-to-head record against City in recent years; four straight 1-0 wins at the Stadium of Light. Seven victories in their past 11 games in all competitions also goes into the plus column.

And it’s not as if Sunderland have had an easy ride to the final. They had to get by Manchester United over the two legs of the semi-final for the right to be in London this weekend and before that they knocked out Chelsea.

But while Gus Poyet’s men have raised their game when they have needed to, City have been guilty of the opposite on occasions, notably when losing the FA Cup Final last May to relegated Wigan.

It is hard to imagine, however, City making the same mistake again. The players will still be hurting from that experience and will want to put things right – for the club, for the fans and for themselves.

In their five-game run to the final, City have scored 19 goals and let in just one, which shows how seriously they are taking the competition.

If Yaya Toure and Vincent Komany can ensure that City match Sunderland for hard work and spirit, then the quality of the likes of Sergio Aguero, fit again after a hamstring problem, and David Silva (who catches the eye at 7/1 to be man of the match), should see them through.

Coral’s 6/1 it finishes 2-0 looks a decent shout, although it might be worth saving on City to win after extra time at 10/1 in case Sunderland’s resilient and experienced defence (Wes Brown and John O’Shea won six League Cup medals between them for United) hold out for 90 minutes.


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Jon Freeman