It's an exciting time for football betting enthusiasts. Later this month, Manchester City will play Liverpool in the Capital One Cup Final, and for the first time in years, there's a genuine case for either side to win meaning the odds are primed for the picking. It'll certainly be a more evenly-matched final than Chelsea's sweeping 2-0 victory against Tottenham Hotspur last year but many see City as the team to beat.
Manchester City might find themselves looking back to their 3-1 victory over Sunderland in the 2013/14 final for inspiration. This was the year that manager Manuel Pellegrini won both the English Premier League and the Capital One Cup in his first season with the club. This year, the 62-year-old Chilean will be hoping to cement his legacy before Pep Guardiola replaces him on 1 July.
While Pellegrini’s men have been extremely strong in attack this season, they've also given away some easy goals. In spite of club captain Vincent Kompany missing much of the season with a calf injury, City's line-up remains strengthened by world-class striker Sergio Agüero. The 27-year-old Argentine scored five times in the Premier League, winning the Barclays Player of the Month award for January.
Agüero's return to form has been enough to make City the favourites to win this game at 11/10 with Paddy Power Sports. Alternatively, fans can get a potentially higher payout by combining a Man City victory in 90 minutes with over 2.5 goals in the game for odds of 11/5.
Kompany is said to be close to returning to the team in time for the Capital One Cup Final on Sunday 28th February. City are capable of winning without Kompany's expertise, but the towering Belgian is certainly an asset. Statistically, the team conceded 21 goals in 14 games without him compared to just two goals in nine games with him.
Like Manchester City, Liverpool have appeared to offset attacking flair with defensive inconsistency. This was especially evident in the team's nail-biting encounter with Norwich City, in which they scraped by with a 5-4 victory. Manager Jurgen Klopp will no doubt be looking to Liverpool’s 4-1 defeat of City in November as a blueprint for success. Liverpool's relentless pressing of City led them to make a series of fatal mistakes, and this same strategy could work again for the Capital One Cup Final.
But Paddy Power Sports is yet to be convinced by Liverpool, who are priced at longer odds of 12/5 to win in 90 minutes. Meanwhile, Liverpool are 5/4 to lift the cup compared to 4/7 for City. Although City have had their own struggles, Liverpool have had a more disappointing last few months in terms of results, having dropped points to Sunderland, Leicester City, Manchester United and West Ham.
However, the environment of a cup final is unique, and this could mean that Liverpool is able to look past its recent league campaign challenges in order to perform well and take home another piece of silverware. At the moment, Liverpool’s total of eight League Cup trophies stands as the record, ahead of Aston Villa and Chelsea, who each have five. The team's last victory came after a tense win on penalties against Cardiff City in the 2011/12 season.
For both managers, the Capital One Cup Final is an opportunity to strengthen their legacies, and to make up for their team's league struggles. With the attacking talent of both teams added into the mix, the Capital One Cup Final is set to be the most gripping in years.
Head over to Paddy Power Sports now for the very latest odds, and to place your bets.