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Will Manchester City or Aston Villa be Crowned the new Carabao Cup Champions?

This coming weekend, Manchester City will be aiming to land their fifth Carabao Cup win in seven seasons and their third victory in the competition in a row, in the process becoming only the second team in its history to win the tournament three years in succession. Standing in their way are an Aston Villa side who have despatched some notable names and Midlands rivals on their way to their first major final since the 2015 FA Cup Final.

The two teams are amongst the most decorated in the competition’s history and the game promises to be an intriguing one, especially with Manchester City having held the upper hand in recent games between the two, including a 6-1 win at Villa Park against their opponents on Sunday just a few short weeks ago.

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Before we preview the action on Sunday, let’s take a look at a quick history of this famous cup competition and who are the most successful teams to have participated in it over the past 60 years.

Football League Cup

The brainchild of Football League secretary Alan Hardaker, the Football League Cup first came into being in 1960, when the final was contested over two legs and was won, appropriately enough, by Aston Villa, who defeated lower league Rotherham in the final.

By 1967, the tournament had got rid of the two-legged final format and instead elected for a single final played at Wembley, although several rounds of the tournament still remained contested over two legs.

After a slow start, the tournament became respected throughout England and has seen a number of teams achieve notable success in the tournament.

Most Successful Football League Cup Teams per Total Number of Tournament Wins

  • Liverpool – 8
  • Manchester City – 6
  • Manchester United, Aston Villa, Chelsea – 5
  • Tottenham, Nottingham Forest – 4
  • Leicester City – 3
  • Arsenal, Norwich City, Birmingham City, Wolves – 2
  • WBA, QPR, Middlesbrough, Leeds Utd, Stoke City, Luton Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Swindon Town, Oxford United, Blackburn Rovers and Swansea City – 1

Liverpool are the only club to have won the tournament three or more years in a row, landing four wins in succession over West Ham, Tottenham, Manchester United and Everton in the years from 1981 to 1984. Manchster City could become the second team to win three in a row with victory at the weekend.

The player who wins the man of the match award at Wembley will also win the Alan Hardaker trophy, which is currently held by Bernardo Silva of Manchester City.

The final this year will be played at Wembley on Sunday 1st March with a 4.30 kick off time. The game will be shown live on Sky Sports.

Carabao Cup Final Preview

Road to Wembley

Aston Villa

  • First Round – Bye
  • Second Round – Crewe 1-6 Aston Villa (Konsa, Hourihane 2, Davis, Guilbert, Grealish)
  • Third Round – Brighton 1-3 Aston Villa (Jota, Hourihane, Grealish)
  • Fourth Round – Aston Villa 2-1 Wolves (El Ghazi, Elmohamady)
  • Quarter Final – Aston Villa 5-0 Liverpool (Hourihane, Boyes OG, Kodjia 2, Wesley)
  • Semi Final 1st Leg – Leicester City 1-1 Aston Villa (Guilbert)
  • Semi Final 2nd Leg – Aston Villa 2-1 Leicester (Targett, Trezeguet) (Villa win 3-2 on agg)

Probable Aston Villa XI – 5-4-1 – Reina, Hause, Mings, Konsa, Targett, Guilbert, Luiz, Hourihane, El Ghazi, Grealish, Samatta

Dean Smith’s team have made solid progress in the tournament knocking out four Premier League sides en-route to their date under the Wembley Arch. A second-round defeat of Crewe Alexandra led to wins over Brighton, Wolves and then Liverpool before setting up a two-legged semifinal against Midlands opponents Leicester. After a 1-1 draw in Leicester, the second leg looked likely to end the same score before Trezeguet’s last gasp winner handed Villa a place in the final.

Manchester City

  • First Round – Bye
  • Second Round – Bye
  • Third Round – Preston 0-3 Man City (Sterling, Jesus, Ledson OG)
  • Fourth Round – Man City 3-1 Southampton (Otamendi, Aguero 2)
  • Quarter Final – Oxford Utd 1-3 Man City (Cancelo, Sterling 2)
  • Semi Final 1st Leg – Man Utd 1-3 Man City (Silva, Mahrez, Pereira OG)
  • Semi Final 2nd Leg – Man City 0-1 Man Utd (City win 3-2 on aggregate)

Probable Man City XI – 4-3-3 – Ederson, Walker, Mendy, Laporte, Fernandinho, Gundogan, Foden, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Sterling, Aguero

It has been four years since Manchester City last tasted defeat in this competition to knock them out before a Wembley final and Pep Guardiola’s team have made easy progress into this year’s final, netting three goals in each of their first four games against Preston, Southampton, Oxford and then in the semifinal first leg 3-1 win over rivals Manchester United. United won the second leg 1-0 at the Etihad but City’s dominanet first leg display took them through to offer them a chance to land that elusive three-in-a-row.

Top Carabao Cup Final Tips

  • Full Time Result – Manchester City – 1/6

There’s not much value in backing City to win the game, but given that City have won the last few games between the teams very comfortably, including a 6-1 win over the Villains at Villa Park just a few weeks back, it is hard to see anything other than a comfortable win for the second placed team in the Premier League.

  • Correct Score – Aston Villa 1-3 Manchester City – 10/1

In truth, I can’t see Manchester City having too much difficulty in landing the win here. They have utterly dismantled Aston Villa in recent games between the teams and in truth, if this game finishes 3-1, then I feel Aston Villa will have to have played well to achieve that, such is City’s quality. I can see Villa getting a goal for their fans to enjoy but City should run out convincing winners.

*All odds shown were correct with bet365 Sport as of 10.30am on Tuesday 25th February 2020.

  • First Goalscorer – Sergio Aguero (Man City) – 13/5

The first goal in this game will be crucial and in truth, I can’t see any way Aston Villa will get this. Aguero has been the main man for City in the big games for so many years now and I think he will be the one who gets the ball rolling for the Citizens in this game too.