A trip to Wembley is something to savour, no matter how often you get to go there. For fans of Manchester City, Sunday will represent their first chance of a trophy in the 2013/14 season. For fans of Sunderland, it represents their only chance. The two sides are at different ends of the Premier League spectrum, but on Sunday will be on a par as they fight for the Capital One Cup. In the league, one is third bottom, and one is third top, but anything can happen when they take to the Wembley turf.
All but a small minority have written off Sunderland's chances of beating the might of Man City, but the Black Cats will be desperate for success in a season otherwise blighted by misery. Poyet this week said that he'd rather survive in the Premier League than win this trophy, but he'd take both in the blink of an eye.
The last time Manchester City were in the final of the League Cup was 1976, where they overcame Sunderland's north-east rivals Newcastle 2-1. Sunderland were runners up nine years later in 1985, but have never lifted the trophy. Adam Johnson, facing his former employer in the final, admitted that should Sunderland win on Sunday, they'd “go down in history”. This is more than just a match for those on Wearside; it's their shot at immortality.
Star man Sergio Aguero returned to training this week and could be available for Man City, but Matija Nastasic (knee) and Stevan Jovetic (hamstring) are still unavailable. Gus Poyet is sweating on the fitness of Steven Fletcher, but the Scot could be in the starting line-up come Sunday afternoon. Sunderland's only other casualty is Kieran Westwood, who remains sidelined with a shoulder injury.
On paper, Manchester City have this all but sewn up. Sunderland, though, will have other ideas. Cup finals can throw up odd results – just look at Obafemi Martins' late winner for Birmingham in the 2011 final against Arsenal – so don't write the Black Cats off just yet. Their shot at glory could well end in surprise.
KICK-OFF: Sunday, 2pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS:
Sunderland 1 (Bardsley) Man City 0, Premier League, November 2013
Sunderland 1 (Johnson) Man City 0, Premier League, December 2012
Man City 3 (Kolarov, Agüero, Milner) Sunderland 0, Premier League, October 2012
In City's three league cup finals (1970, 1974, 1976) each game has ended 2-1. They won one, and lost two.
Sunderland have only lost one of their last five matches against Sunday's opposition, winning three and drawing once.
Manchester City have scored 19 goals so far this season in the Capital One Cup, and have conceded just once. The last team to make the final after conceding just once were Chelsea in 2006/07.
Sunderland have been shown 19 yellow cards in the Capital One Cup so far this season, a massive 11 more than any other team.
Manchester City to win: 1.33
Sunderland to win: 11.5
TV: Live on Sky Sports 1, Sunday 2pm (Highlights BBC1, Sunday 11.30pm)Reuse content