Liverpool and Manchester City have never met in a major final but that will change at the end of February when they play in the Capital One Cup final but don’t remind Mark Hughes and Roberto Martinez . The managers of the losing semi-finalists will be aggrieved the Wembley fixture on Sunday the 28th is not between Stoke and Everton because quite feasibly both those sides could have got through.
Stoke were the best team in their tie at Anfield with Liverpool. Facing a one goal deficit from the first leg they took the game to Liverpool who looked sluggish and second best. Stoke had the best chances to win the tie during 90 minutes and then extra time. Liverpool progressed after a penalty shoot out and one decisive kick. Jurgen Klopp said he didn’t see much because his substitute glasses were out of date and were not suited to his prescription.
Everton meanwhile were 20 minutes from setting up an all-Merseyside final until Manchester City scored a second goal to level the semi-final. The ball was clearly out of play when Raheem Sterling crossed for Kevin De Bruyne to score the goal that levelled the scores over the two matches. Sergio Aguero’s goal decided the tie but the shape of the game had changed and nobody knows how it would have panned out without City’s second goal on the night.
Liverpool have won the League Cup eight times which is three times more than any other team. Their wins span from 1981 to 2005 and they have also lost in three finals. Manchester City have won the trophy in three years, most recently in 2014 and lost in the final way back in 1974. The competition was first sponsored in 1982 and since then the title sponsors have been the Milk Marketing Board, Littlewoods, Rumbelows, Coca-Cola, Worthington’s, Molson Coors and Capital One.
Liverpool have met Manchester City in 152 fixtures, winning 99, losing 52 and there have been 51 draws. They met in the semi-final of the League Cup in the 2011-12 season and Liverpool won the tie over two matches by three goals to two. There is little between the clubs over the last 10 matches in the Premier League. Over that spell City have won three matches, lost one more and there have been three draws. More significantly Liverpool have won three of the last four, scoring ten goals and conceding seven.
The last ten finals of the League Cup as it was known before sponsorship have produced 31 goals with both teams scoring in six of those matches. The total goal’s tally was more than two in eight recent finals and there has only been one goalless draw. The highest score was the five goals Swansea scored against Bradford without reply in 2013. Ten of ten winners were Premier League sides and Manchester United and Chelsea are the only multiple winners.
Both this year’s finalists are recent winners, Liverpool beating Cardiff City after extra-time and penalties in 2012 and Manchester City beating Sunderland two years ago. Five of the losing finalist since 2006 have been London clubs and Manchester teams have won four of the last ten finals. A Welsh side has won the trophy and lost in the final over the last decade. Only Swansea of the winners could not be described as a big city club.
A subplot to this year’s final is the respective managers. Jurgen Klopp would love to win a trophy in his first season with Liverpool and Manuel Pellegrini would love to do the same in what looks like being his last season as the manager of City before Pep Guardiola takes over. The match brings together the contrasting management styles of the expressive, mad Klopp and the laid back Pellegrini. On current form the more relaxed approach should prevail.