Reds head to Wembley looking for League Cup glory – Liverpool vs. Man City preview

on 27.02.2016


Liverpool face their biggest match of the season on Sunday, as they take on Man City in the League Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 14, 2012: Liverpool and Everton supporters walk up Wembley Way to watch the 218th Merseyside Derby, the FA Cup Semi-Final, at Wembley. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool vs. Man City
Sunday 28th February 2016, 16:30 (GMT)
Wembley Stadium
League Cup Final
Referee: Michael Oliver

The Reds warmed up for this weekend’s huge game with a slightly nervy 1-0 win over FC Augsburg on Thursday evening.

It means Jurgen Klopp‘s side are through to the last 16 of the Europa League, which was imperative given their struggles in the Premier League.

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Sunday’s showdown really is impossible to predict, with both Liverpool and City capable of brilliance and incompetence in equal measure.

The first goal is likely to be crucial, and it could simply be a case of which star players turn up and which ones go missing.

Klopp may well field the same starting lineup that featured against Augsburg, with Lucas Leiva performing admirably in a centre-back role. Kolo Toure replacing him is surely the only potential alteration.

Clinching a first trophy in four years would be enormous for everyone associated with Liverpool Football Club, and it promises to be a tense afternoon at Wembley.


 

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Form

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, February 25, 2016: Liverpool's James Milner celebrates scoring the first goal against FC Augsburg from the penalty kick during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 1st Leg match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The win over Augsburg saw the Reds keep their third consecutive clean sheet, and their only defeat in their last five matches was when Klopp took an under-strength team to West Ham United in the FA Cup.

Performances remain a little unconvincing on the whole – Liverpool struggle to convince for an entire 90 minutes – but some of the football on Thursday night was sublime at times.

Slowly but surely, Klopp is beginning to stamp his mark on this team, and it could be that the Merseysiders peak in the last few months of the campaign.

City, meanwhile, have been equally erratic.

Their 3-1 Champions League win at Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday was probably their finest display of the season, with ex-Liverpool man Raheem Sterling in particularly sparkling form.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 21, 2015: Liverpool's and Manchester City players stand during the French national anthem before the Premier League match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Prior to that, however, an inexperienced side lost 5-1 in the FA Cup at Chelsea, while title rivals Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur both won at the Etihad.

While they able to produce brilliance, with Manuel Pellegrini leaving in the summer and a number of players ageing, there does seem to be an overall lethargy throughout the squad.

Let’s hope the bad version of City turn up on Sunday.

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Form Guide (Last 10 games)

Liverpool: W-W-W-D-L-D-L-W-D-W

Man City: D-W-D-W-W-W-L-L-L-W

 

Road To Wembley

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, January 25, 2016: Liverpool's Joe Allen scoring a penalty during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match against Stoke City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s League Cup campaign started at home to League Two outfit Carlisle United, but Brendan Rodgers‘ Reds side only just overcame them at Anfield.

Following a 1-1 draw in which Danny Ings scored, penalties were required to separate the two sides. Adam Bogdan made himself the unlikely hero, saving three Carlisle spot-kicks.

A 1-0 win at home to Bournemouth followed, with Nathaniel Clyne scoring the only goal of the game, before a sensational 6-1 win at Southampton in the quarter-finals.

Divock Origi scored a hat-trick at St Mary’s, the returning Sturridge scored two typically sublime goals and Jordon Ibe also found the back of the net.

Klopp’s men beat Stoke City on penalties in the semi-finals, following a 1-1 draw on aggregate over the two legs, with Joe Allen stroking home the winning effort. Their path to the final was complete.

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MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 8, 2015: Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini during the UEFA Champions League Group D match against VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

City started their League Cup journey with a resounding 4-1 win away to Sunderland, with Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne among the scorers.

They then demolished Crystal Palace 5-1 at the Etihad, with youngster Manu Garcia scoring his side’s fifth goal, before a De Bruyne-inspired 4-1 win at home to Hull City saw them cruise into the semis.

Everton stood between City and a place at Wembley, and the Toffees’ 2-1 win in the first leg at Goodison Park arguably made Pellegrini’s side underdogs to reach the final.

When Ross Barkley put Everton 1-0 up in the second leg, their chances looked even more slim, but goals from Fernandinho, Aguero and De Bruyne turned the game on its head.


 

Past Glory

CARDIFF, WALES - Sunday, March 2, 2003: Liverpool's goalscorers Michael Owen (l) and Steven Gerrard celebrate beating Manchester United 2-0 during the Football League Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have enjoyed more success in the League Cup than any other side, winning the competition eight times since its inception in 1960.

Their first four triumphs incredibly came in succession, between 1980 and 1984, and it was 11 years before two Steve McManaman goals against Bolton Wanderers inspired the Reds to a fifth victory.

In the 21st century, Liverpool have lifted the trophy three times.

The first came in 2001, with a shootout win over Birmingham City sealing the first of three cup wins in 2000/01, before Gerard Houllier’s side defeated Man United 2-0 in the final two years later.

CARDIFF, WALES - Sunday, March 2, 2003: Liverpool celebrate beating Manchester United 2-0 to win the Worthington League Cup at the Millennium Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Kenny Dalglish then won the competition in 2012, with Cardiff City one of many sides Liverpool have conquered on penalties in finals down the years. It remains the club’s last piece of silverware.

City have won the League Cup on three occasions, with their maiden triumph coming in a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion in 1970.

The Citizens then defeated Newcastle United by the same scoreline six years later.

It was 38 long years before the blue half of Manchester could celebrate winning the League Cup again.

A stunning Yaya Toure goal, and further efforts from Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas, earned them a 3-1 win over Sunderland, in a game that saw former Liverpool man Fabio Borini give the Black Cats the lead.

 

Odds

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, February 25, 2016: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge in action against FC Augsburg during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 1st Leg match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The bookies clearly see the Wembley matchup as very tough to call, which tends to highlight both sides’ aforementioned unpredictability.

City are the narrow favourites to prevail at 8/13, while Liverpool are 5/4 to return to Merseyside with another trophy added to their collection.

Aguero, the man the Reds really have to fear, is 15/4 favourite to be the first goalscorer on the day, while Daniel Sturridge is 11/2.

Sterling is 10/1 to be Man of the Match against his former club, and his replacement at Liverpool, Roberto Firmino, is the same.

 

Team News

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, February 25, 2016: Liverpool's players line up for a team group photograph before the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 1st Leg match against FC Augsburg at Anfield. Back row L-R: Mamadou Sakho, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, Roberto Firmino, Nathaniel Clyne, Emre Can, Daniel Sturridge. Front row L-R: Alberto Moreno, James Milner, captain Jordan Henderson, Lucas Leiva, Philippe Coutinho Correia. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp will be relieved to have seen his players come through the Augsburg game unscathed, although Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho struggled with knocks throughout the night.

Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana are all back in training too, with long-term injury victims Ings and Joe Gomez the only real absentees of note.

Having Sturridge fit again makes such an enormous difference to Liverpool, and you can’t help but wonder where they would be in the league if he had been available all season.

City’s injury woes are also now easing, with the experienced world-class quartet of Toure, Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva all available.

De Bruyne, who was one of 2015/16’s outstanding performers before picking up a serious knee injury, is a big loss, while Nasri remains on the sidelines having missed the majority of the season.

Navas, Eliaquim Mangala and Wilfried Bony are available, but Fabian Delph is out.


 

What the Managers Say

Klopp spoke about his desire to win a trophy as Liverpool manager:

“In this job we only want to win; titles, cups.

“A lot of players and managers have to work their whole life, and be very successful, but not get the chance [to win a trophy].

“What will happen, we have to wait. It’s a pretty strong opponent. What it feels like today is it’s Liverpool against Manchester—as it always is!

“If I think about it, I have a few nice pictures in my mind of after the game, being in Wembley with our fans, having a real reason to celebrate together.”

Simon Mignolet also spoke about Sunday’s mouthwatering showdown:

“[Jurgen] Klopp has the experience of playing finals, both domestically and in Europe. He knows what it is to be there.

“We cannot get flustered by the occasion on Sunday. We have to ensure we perform well on the day.

“This is my third time playing at Wembley. As a player you want to be remembered for trophies and winners medals.”

Pellegrini talked up the match as well:

“For everyone, Wembley is one of the most important stadiums in the world. To play a final there creates a different atmosphere.

“It’s a special thing. That’s why I respect every cup so much.”

 

TV Info

The match is being shown exclusively on Sky Sports 1 in the UK, with coverage starting at 4pm, following Arsenal’s trip to Man United in the league.

 

Live Streams

ukflagUK: Sky Sports 1 on NOW TV — Click to watch
usaflag USA: beIN Sports on FuboTV — Click to watch

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70 COMMENTS

  1. We’re actually going into this game with far better form this year than City (mainly due to theirs being even worse than ours), all of that counts for nothing of course, any one off Wembley final is pretty unpredictable but if TIA tell me we’re on the ‘cusp’ of something special that’s good enough for me, I’ve got a good feeling about this game…

      • Pretty much the same as last Thursday I’d think but that assumes Coutinho and Henderson are both okay. If Henderson isn’t 100% I’d be inclined to play Stewart but that would be a BIG call. Lovren’s available but I’d be surprised if he’s straight back in the team, I’m sitting on the fence to be honest…

        • Stewart is injuried…
          I guess if he had been fine last thursday he would have played…he was been the finnest player in the middle for us

        • If everyone is available apart from long term injuries (isn’t Stewart out for a while? – in any event, too big an occasion to throw in the kid), I would go with the front three who played so well away at City (Lallana, Coutinho and Firmino – not sure Sturridge currently suited to pressing game, at least from the outset), with Hendo, Milner and Lucas behind them. I would go with Sakho and Lovren centrally and Moreno and Clyne wide. Sturridge first off the bench with Origi, Tex, Skrtel, Flanno, Benteke and Can also on the bench. If Allen is available, this dude instead of Tex (indeed, would be tempted to start him over Lucas given how well he did last year up against Toure & co). If Sturridge starts, I’d play Firmino and Lallana behind him and Coutinho slightly deeper pulling the strings. A healthy Hendo and Milner holding.

          • Stewart is out for longer than I realised apparently..
            That apart we’re in a situation where we have lots of options again but I suspect Klopp will want to go with ‘more or less’ an unchanged team, there’s always good options on the bench if we need to use them..
            Beneteke seems to be out of favour at the moment, it’s possible that when Markovich is back for preseason he’ll play as an out and out winger and Klopp might think that’s the time to give Benteke more opportunities. If we secure EL qualification tomorrow it might even give JK the option of experimenting in the league games between now and the end of the season…

          • Shows how close minded you are. I’m not convinced Sturridge fits the pressing game as well as the other three and without sacrificing another player in a three man midfield. Sturridge will probably play but personally I wouldn’t start him.

          • Its a good thing that you aint apart of the coaching staff, because that would be the worst thing a manager could ever do.

          • Certainly he was the most effective player in our team on the pitch, and he was certainly lacking the service, and did better than the players you wanted to start over him.

          • Our front three away to City was far more effective. He over elaborates way too much. On a bit of a goal drought too. When is the cute going to turn on him?!?

          • Do you really read what you write mate? That was a one off game, how many games have played since, and we got nothing from those players, can’t you recognise a top player when you see one? Just remember that Sturridge is one of the top 2 striker in England when fit.

          • No goals home and away against mighty Augsburg, no goals tonight. Agree he is a top striker but he is not the messiah and we should, at times, cut others the same slack he gets. £15m and I would sell.

          • Really! what slack are you referring to? You need to change your name to delusional, no offense to you, Benteke is on the same salary as Sturridge, definatey fitter than Sturridge, cost the club 2 times more than Daniel, and all he does is to warm the bench, Fermino cost a lot more than Daniel, plays a lot more, and they are on par with the amount of goals scored.

          • Big Ben deserve more slack. He shouldn’t be written off. You are clearing DS’s number one fan which is commendable. I like the dude but think he’s as much a problem as he might be the answer. Peace dude, your posts are good.

          • MightyDiego, Klopp is presently playing 4-3-3, which I personal thing should change, because its lacking goals at the moment, so you are making a case for big Ben fair enough, who would you start him over base on form?

          • I would in principle start Origi and DS but would definitely keep Benteke in the loop. There are games where I’d favour him over both DS and Origi – whether as a loan striker or a front two (for example, possibly against City next game and against the likes of Spurs who I don’t feel deal with big strikers as well as they do nifty ones). As I’ve said many times, the dude actually had a good initially start to his Anfield career where he was holding the ball up well and getting in dangerous positions. He also made a big difference coming on in a couple of games and scored a good winner against Leicester. As it happened though it was that game where he began to lose confidence with his late game breakaway miss – you could see the belief drain out of him. I don’t believe you become a bad player over night and think he has a real upside that we should try and tease out before we run him out of town. One issue appears to be an understanding (or lack thereof) with the likes of Ibe as to when the ball is going to be delivered (if at all). Must say if I was a striker I would find it infuriating playing with our wide players.

          • Sturridge is the best player, by a mile we have in this squad when fit, so can you leave your best player when he is fit? What nonsense you posting Mighty one?

  2. I think with the big pitch and our pressing and better fitness now , I think we can take city apart again.

  3. Sterling to get a red card, Aguero to get a hamstring injury, and we win 6-0!

    ps: Can TIA please do a photoshop on the picture? That guy holding the trophy with Stevie makes our shirt looks bad… please change it to Tom Cruise or someone who looks better. Thanks.

  4. We always beat City lately, but we are nowhere near the good form that we was in when we last battered them, Chelsea & Southampton. It’s hard to ascertain what has gone wrong since, even Klopp can’t work it out. I’m dreading the midfield of Can Milner & Henderson. City will have a field day against them.

    And then there’s Sterling & Aguero against Moreno……or I should say the absent Moreno, letting them run freely into the undefended LB position when he somehow ends up on the opposite side of the pitch.

    But there’s always Mignolet to restore calm and order at the back……

    Maybe Firmino Sturridge & Coutinho can win the game, score more than we concede. Suarez used to do it. If these 3 can show half the fight and drive that Suarez did, we can do it.

    • I agree , just not keen on our midfield. Its slow and just doesn’t create much. Have never rated Moreno – he is constantly out of position and his crossing is dire. As you say our only hope is that those 3 can really fire. If that happens we might nick it 3-2.

      • a 442 diamond with a midfield of Hendo Milner Lucas? won’t make a big difference attacking but will crowd out Silva and Yaya perhaps

        • I still keep my faith on a 2 men midfield of Can and Henderson with Milner playing wide but occasionally drop center to provide support to Can and Henderson. Lucas is just too slow and not intense enough in my opinion.

    • I don’t really see sterling as a big threat tbh. I’ve watched him a couple teams this season and he is been either average or poor. Plus he is going to be going against Clyne, who had him in his backpocket last time.

      But I do agree with you on aguero, I can see him scoring one or 2. ??

      • Totally agreed with your opinions on Sterling and Aguero. Sterling is now quite average, not so good compared with the time he was in Liverpool. Serves him right!!! Aguero is the one we really need to worry about. Perhaps the intensity and a bit of brutality from Toure, Can and Henderson can stop him. Well, I hope so….

  5. City like to play football, and as history shows, LFC actually prefer football playing opponents….

    Could go either way, of course, but the red team will win in the end. Probably 3-2 in normal time.

  6. Pellegrini will be fighting to prove himself that City is letting a good manager go, while Klopp will be looking to gain some momentum to kickstart his tenure.
    I’m incline to think that City might just win this one.

  7. From all LFC fans down here in the colonies ( South Africa ) . As long as the greedy trophy hunter Sterling is on the losing side then justice will be done . Herr Kloppo we salute you . Good luck our Red Men

  8. Check out the letter the boss sent to a lady that lost her hubby on his way to watch us against Leicester, class guy, class club, really makes you feel proud to be red

    • Class act is Kloppo , and what I love about him most is that he does 7 year stints ( Mainz , Dortmund ) , he is not a mercenary like Guardiola and Mourinho with 3 year shoot or miss take it or leave it contracts. We are so lucky to have him…suits the LFC culture perfectly ! I hope we win tomorrow for him first ..everything else will be a bonus !

      • The players should want to win it for themselves first, not Kloppo.

        But I understand where you’re coming from… ?

        • Of course you’re right, that’s the point I’m worried about. It all depends on what side shows up. If it’s the joga bonito 4-1 one, I have no doubt they will beat them, but then again we don’t know for sure, just witnessing that rollercoaster the past months. I think we’ll see where it’s headed in the first 20 mins of the game.

      • Guardiola is probably a good manager, but probably not all that what people make him out to be. Unlimited funds and power at Barca and Bayern don’t really speak that much for a challenge. Offense is his thing, it’s a concerto of the highest order, but defensively it can be dicey for him. He’ll have a hard time in the BPL or so I hope for the league’s sake.

          • When you think about it it’s probably similar to Germany in terms of funds but on a much higher level. Relatively speaking the Mancs have that silly money that FSG isn’t willing to spend. I anticipate an encore in England, but hopefully with the better end for Klopp. The BPL still is very… unique in terms of physicality that Pep surely won’t apreciate. Whatever the outcome, it’ll be a very interesting coming year.

        • Who’s going to be at Chelsea next season?? Pep, Klopp, Arsene, Poch, Mou possibly.. against Pulis, Allardyce and others.. and with all the TV money to the clubs… I think it’s going to be a great season in the BPL next year…

          • It’s probably going to be a big name, thouch I don’t think it’ll be Simeone, I don’t see him leaving Atletico for Chelsea. Then again who knows, money is always a factor in this.

    • The man has so much class and is dignified in all he says. I’d love him to be with us for 20 years. I think he truly gets and understands what the football club means to the fans. He really is “One” of us ?

  9. Linda Pizzuti instagrammed a picture of Kloppo, John, Tom and herself having beers, crisps and an assortment of cheeses at a lounge somewhere.

    So THAT’S how we’ll beat City.

    Flatulence.

  10. Nerves are setting in, it’s those excited nerves though, you know the ones that make you smile in anticipation.

    Some fans might belittle this cup but I’m all for it. Hope we smash them! C’mon lads prove your good enough!! YWNA

  11. i Hope some of these players take thier opportunity
    Cup finals dont come along every week and some of these players wont be here next season (thankfully)

    i believe Liverpool can win this game but ONLY if we are at it from the start ..ironically for me it was man city which has been our best performance of the season so far and we are going to have to put in a simaliar shift if we are going to stand any chance of bringing this trophey home today… make no mistake city will be a lot tough opponent than they were that day.

    i remember when going to wembley was an anual event for this club lets hope this is the start of things to come ….Goodluck redmen

  12. Release the win mentality on the pitch, give it 200% and dont give up doing that until that cup is lifted! YNWA!!!

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