The first piece of silverware gets to be handed out on Sunday afternoon as Liverpool and Man City meet at Wembley just three days before facing each other in the league. With both suffering from poor and inconsistent form for much of the campaign this is likely to be their only chance of a trophy and we can expect a full blooded encounter.
The Reds hold the record for most League Cup wins and last lifted the trophy in 2012 while Man City were the winners in 2014. On both occasions they went in as huge favourites; Liverpool were playing Cardiff while City beat Sunderland, but there is little to split these two in the betting here. With the big teams generally fielding weakened sides in this competition there have been a number of lesser sides in the finals over the last 20 or so years. However, the majority of finals have remained close affairs and of the last 19 just four have been won by more than one goal; Liverpool beating Man Utd 2-0 in 2003, Man Utd beating Wigan 4-0 in 2006, Swansea beating Bradford City 5-0 in 2013 and Man City beating Sunderland 3-1 in 2014.
One of Liverpool’s performances of the season came when these teams met at the Etihad back in November and the Reds came away with a 4-1 victory after taking a 3-0 lead after just half an hour. That was the start of a four match winning streak but they’ve struggled to live up that since then and have won just two of their last eight matches in all competitions, and those were against Aston Villa and Augsburg.
Scoring has been inconsistent all season as they’ve generally struggled in front of goal but have occasionally exploded, and so it’s been in their run to this final, as they scored fewer than two goals in four of their five League Cup matches this season but netted six in the other game.
City’s season was threatening to fall apart after back-to-back defeats against title rivals in the league and then a thumping loss to Chelsea in the FA Cup. However, an excellent Champions League result will have boosted confidence coming into this. Defensively they look highly vulnerable though and this has contributed to 29 of their last 3 matches in all competitions having at least three goals with 18 having four or more. Furthermore, 10 of their last 11 League Cup games have had at least three goals with eight having at least four and both teams have scored in each of the last eight meetings between these teams.
Last season Liverpool’s 10 league matches against the five teams that finished above them saw a total of 35 goals as both teams scored in eight and nine had at least three goals. This time around only three of their eight matches against the current top five have had more than two goals but those three have all had at least four strikes and with Sturridge and Coutinho fit again for Liverpool, and Aguero for City, there is certainly the potential for lots of goals here.
City are clearly the superior side and at 2.75 before the midweek action looked an excellent price. However, they’ve shortened to a best price of 2.35 and now the best bet has to be for Over 2.5 Goals. This has landed in four of the last six League Cup Finals and at 1.91 is a standout selection.
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