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League Cup final preview – Man City v Liverpool
Manchester City and Liverpool go into Sunday’s League Cup final fresh from midweek European success – the question for punters is: will the reds or the blues claim the first silverware of the season?
Manchester City manager Manuel Pelligrini and his Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp were both boosted by their side’s midweek displays ahead of Sunday’s showdown.
“It is better than if we had had a defeat or been knocked out,” said Klopp after his side’s 1-0 win against Augsburg.
WE WILL TRY OUR DAMNEDEST
“It is not relevant to Sunday but the team has benefited from a good performance – but you could say the same about City in Kiev last night (where they won 3-1 in the Champions League).
“We will try our damnedest to get a good performance on Sunday.”
Against Augsburg Klopp named a strong team despite the imminent chance for Wembley glory and a first crown to mark his reign at Anfield.
Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho both played from the start in the Europa League clash and though neither found the net, the match minutes will boost their recovery from hamstring injuries.
IN THE PLAYERS WE TRUST
Sturridge was subbed on 66 minutes while Coutinho played for 80 minutes before being replaced and despite a scare following an accidental clash involving the winning goal scorer James Milner, Liverpool look to have progressed without any further injuries for Klopp to contend with.
“Phil [Coutinho] had one or two situations after challenges but we need to find new faith or trust in the body of the players,” said the 48-year-old German manager.
“They (Sturridge and Coutinho) are very important for us but we need them in their best shape and you can only get this from training and matches.”
BIG NAMES BACK FOR CITY
Pelligrini is nearing the end of his time at the Etihad and he was roundly slated for disrespecting the FA Cup last weekend after he fielded an under strength to take on a resurgent Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea took full advantage and humiliated Pelligrini’s men with a 5-1 thrashing but the manager was vindicated on Wednesday when, with his big names back in the first 11, Man City beat Dynamo Kiev 3-1 in the Champions League.
“In this profession you always get criticism when you don’t win, but for the manager it is important to take the right decision,” said Pelligrini.
“I always try to respect all the competitions but unfortunately we couldn’t continue in the FA Cup.”
The Chilean added: “It was a great result, especially away from home, and we couldn’t have hoped for better,” he said.
“We will take a lot of positives out of the game and it’s a good start to a big week for us.”
A massive positive for the boss – and one that the top online football tipsters will be noting – was the return of City’s talismanic captain Kompany, such is the Belgian’s importance to City’s defence.
Punters will have to decide whether Liverpool’s revived attack with the return of Sturridge and Coutinho can out fox the bolstered and strengthened City back four with their captain back in the middle.
By: Joe Cahal