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Carabao Cup Final

Chelsea vs Manchester City | Sunday 24 February | Wembley Stadium | 18:30

The first final of the season takes place this weekend at Wembley Stadium as Manchester City defend their Carabao Cup trophy against last season’s FA Cup winners, Chelsea. For Chelsea, they’ll come up against the team that inflicted their heaviest Premier League defeat, losing 6-0 a fortnight ago. It’s fair to say that Chelsea have not waken up since then, while Manchester City have continued their dominance. Maurizio Sarri has never won a trophy in his managerial career, so this will be the perfect opportunity to put some glitz on his Chelsea tenure.

To Win (90 mins)
Chelsea 17/4
Draw 3/1
Manchester City 6/10

To Lift Cup
Chelsea 7/4
Manchester City 4/10

Chelsea

Maurizio Sarri faces the possibility of being eliminated in both domestic competitions in the space of a week after losing to Manchester United on Monday night in the 5th Round of the FA Cup. Apart from the UEFA Europa League, this is the only competition the Blues have a chance of winning.

Could Sarri win his first ever trophy as a manager against the side that put six past him just a fortnight ago? It certainly seems like an uphill battle for the Italian mentor. What could be his downfall is the player power at Chelsea, but personally, I feel that Sarri has been his own worst enemy, calling out players publicly, as well as his inability to change his style.

Chelsea have become the most predictable team in England and the more it continues, the worse it gets for Sarri. He’s kept it the same since day one and it has become stale, pathetic and an eye-sore. Sarri-ball is washed up and has been found out. Same line-up each game, same substitutions, it’s sickening.

The Blues’ recent results against the top sides has been dreadful to say the least. They were one-sidedly beaten against Arsenal, Manchester City and most recently Manchester United on Monday night, failing to score in any of those encounters.

Players like Eden Hazard and Gonzalo Higuain need to step up and test the City backline, and with their defence looking all over the place at the moment, the Blues’ attackers will need to balance the field of play and pop up with a goal or two from their side.

Teams are expecting Chelsea to just roll over once they go a goal down, with there being no better time to put prove certain doubters wrong this weekend against a high-flying Manchester City team.

Manchester City

More Manchester misery for Chelsea? The Citizens will be hoping so when they face the Blues for the second time this month. Pep Guardiola is still on course of winning the quadruple, and they’re heavily fancied for this tie – rightfully so.

In fact, Sarri stated a while back that Manchester City are the best team in Europe, and no more has it shown this campaign than against Chelsea in the 6-0 game. Guardiola got his tactics spot on that day and the Spanish tactician knows that if his team are half as good on the day, depending on Chelsea, City could cruise to another trophy under his tutelage.

Man City have been free-scoring of late, netting 15 times in their last four domestic matches. Still, Guardiola is the type of coach that is always demanding more from his players. City have the luxury of rotating their squad and still having enough firepower to match some of the best teams in the division, with Guardiola opting to place David Silva, Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez on the bench in their last tie against Chelsea.

That same game, Sergio Aguero netted a hat-trick, with the Argentine looking to outdo his countryman in Chelsea’s attack again. Aguero has a brilliant personal record against the Blues, dating back from his days at Atletico Madrid, scoring 15 times in 18 appearances against Chelsea.

Man City will be looking to win the Carabao Cup for the fourth time in six years, and after already hammering Chelsea recently, Guardiola’s charges will feel they have every bit of a chance.

Probable line-ups:

Chelsea: 4-3-3
Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Higuain, Hazard.

Manchester City: 4-3-3
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne; Sterling, Aguero, Sane.

Prediction: Manchester City (6/10)
Cup finals should be relatively difficult to call, but looking at both teams heading into the game, surely this one is not. Chelsea also have a day less to prepare for this game having played their Europa League game on Thursday. For those chasing extra value, City on the (-1) Handicap looks worth a punt at 15/10, but for safety measure, I’ll take City to win in 90 minutes at 6/10.

Jesse Nagel

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