The first piece of domestic silverware will be up for grabs on March 1 when Aston Villa and Manchester City meet in the EFL Cup Final, and the BettingPro.com team have been debating how this clash at Wembley will unfold.
Who Will Win & How?
Leigh’s EFL Cup Final Tips: Back Manchester City -1 to win & both teams to score @ 7/1 bet365
Unless Liverpool suffer a late-season collapse of epic proportions, there is very little chance of Manchester City retaining the Premier League crown this season, but they can keep hold of the EFL Cup trophy for another 12 months at least. Pep Guardiola’s side have so far failed to meet their lofty expectations and have recorded a string of underwhelming results over the course of the campaign so far, but one team that have not given them any headaches are Aston Villa. These two clubs have already met twice in the Premier League this season and it has made for ugly viewing for Villa supporters – they saw their side fall to a 3-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium back in late October before witnessing a 6-1 massacre at Villa Park during the first half of January. Could we see more of the same here? City may not run riot like they did in January, but I fully expect them to record a convincing victory in this one, overcoming a one-goal handicap on their way to victory. City -1 has been a winning bet on countless victories for them this season and given that the league aggregate score between them and Villa was 9-1, it feels a safe expectation that they will manage to erase a one-goal handicap on their way to victory here. Villa can give their fans something to cheer at Wembley though. While City have managed a few clean sheets recently, this is still a defence that has an unhealthy knack for giving up goals and Villa, for all of their struggles, have been scoring pretty consistently. They could hit the back of the net here, but it will not be enough times for them to avoid defeat as Manchester City claim the EFL Cup trophy for the third season running.
Dave’s EFL Cup Final Tips: Back Manchester City to win to nil @ 11/10 Ladbrokes
Like Leigh, I cannot see anything other than a Manchester City win in the EFL Cup Final. This is no disrespect to Aston Villa, but City are slowly but surely making this tournament their own. They have won the EFL Cup four times since 2015 and have won it for the past two seasons in a row. When you look at the two squads, you can already see a gulf in class. City have the likes of Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez. To be honest, the list is endless. If Pep Guardiola decides he doesn’t want to name all his big guns he can still call on John Stones, Phil Foden, Rodri and Benjamin Mendy. Pep is basically spoilt for choice in terms of selection, while the same cannot be said for Aston Villa. The Villans don’t have the strongest squad in the world, they cannot really afford to rest the likes of Conor Hourihane, Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings. They have to go with what they have got. For the sake of the EFL Cup, it would be good for the sport if Villa did win. They have won this competition five times in total with their last success coming in 1996 when they beat Leeds United 3-0 thanks to goals from Savo Milosevic, Ian Taylor and Dwight Yorke. I just feel City have this winning mentality now when it comes to finals, something they lacked in the past. They also lacked money in the past, but that’s a different story. Pep’s boys will be too strong and clinical all over the park for Villa. I see a very comfortable win for City, but unlike Leigh I see the final unfolding a little differently because I am backing City to win to nil. They will just be too good on the day and whoever is in goal for City will have it very easy in my opinion.
Ben’s EFL Cup Final Tips: Back Manchester City -2 to win @ 8/5 Betway
I believe in the magic of the cup and, honestly, in the past it has produced some stunning results which have given plucky bettors results that have paid out big time. Perhaps the biggest one came when current EFL Cup finalists Manchester City were beaten by Wigan in a 1-0 game in which the former dominated the opposition. Of course, this was in the FA Cup, but any cup competition, especially a final at Wembley, gives the underdogs the chance to perform a good old school smash and grab that stuns the world. While the very nature of a smash and grab football means it is always on the cards, I just cannot see it happening in this one. City are a side that have pretty much already conceded their Premier League trophy and face a long tough road to the Champions League final, while the nature of the FA Cup means even a game against non-league opposition on their turf cannot be taken for granted. This means that it is vital for the future of this City side and Pep Guardiola that they win this game, especially with their league campaign going the way it is. Aston Villa will need no small measure of luck to win this game and even if they are to score first we simply cannot see them keeping a clean sheet and I believe that as soon as City score, the floodgates will open. Romantics will say Villa can do it and I do believe that is true, but it is not a case of Villa being able to win, but more the fact that City will win in my eyes. Indeed. This trophy has become so much more important to City this season than many would have thought and, while it will not assure Guardiola of his job should they get knocked out of the Champions League and FA Cup and lose the league by a record margin, it will at least stave off some of the pressure he is surprisingly finding himself under.
Leigh’s EFL Cup Final Tips: Back Sergio Aguero @ TBC
Sergio Aguero does not have a particularly prolific record in domestic cup competitions, mainly because he does not feature that much until the final stages, but there is no player on the pitch with a better knack for scoring than the Argentinian and he has now found the back of Aston Villa’s net on three occasions so far this season. It would not shock anybody to see Aguero find the back of net at Wembley on March 1, and as a leading contender to grab a goal he has to be a frontrunner to open the scoring at Wembley. He did just that as City swept aside Arsenal, 3-0, in the 2018 Final.
Ben’s EFL Cup Final Tips: Back Sergio Aguero @ TBC
I’m with Leigh, can you look past Aguero to open the scoring in this one? The Argentine has been City’s greatest ever player and his ability to score goals and spark the team is one of the major reasons why they have been so successful. Of course, picking the first goalscorer for City is never easy as any of de Bruyne, Sterling, Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus or many more could net the first goal. However, if Guardiola is to play Aguero from the start, I think his big game mentality will kick in, and I think he will be the man that the other 10 City players are chasing after to celebrate the opener.
Dave’s EFL Cup Final Tips: Back Kevin de Bruyne @ TBC
This is a little bit more difficult to predict, only because we don’t know what kind of team Pep will put out. He will have to decide if he wants to start with Sterling or Aguero or possibly both. Gabriel Jesus is a strong bet to start the game as well as Mahrez. City have plenty of star quality to play up front, it’s a case of when they score rather than if. Saying that, they failed to score against Manchester United in the second leg of their semi-final, but I think that was a case of it being a derby rather than having a blip in form. Pep was clearly frustrated at the number of chances missed against United, he will do his best in the coming weeks to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Villa could feel the full force of their inability to score against United. I fully expect both Sterling and Aguero to start the Final at Wembley, but I am resisting the urge to back either of them to score first. My pick is the outrageous Kevin de Bruyne. This guy is just a different class, if he is on top form then City are unplayable. I’m backing the Belgian international to control this game and to open the scoring with a trademark screamer.
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