By Poppy Pecorelli, third Year Sociology student
On February 24th, Manchester City and Chelsea will come head to head at Wembley, but what can we expect from the two sides in the battle for the trophy?
Pep Guardiola’s team will be returning to Wembley in the Carabao Cup Final for the second time in the last two seasons, after facing Arsenal in the final last year.
Manchester City comfortably walked all over the Gunners, securing a 3-0 win and giving Guardiola his first trophy as Manchester City manager. Will Pep retain his trophy, or will the 2015 winners Chelsea manage to nab it?
This would be the first trophy on the shelf of manager Maurizio Sarri in his professional football career hence making this a particularly important win both for Chelsea and on a personal level for Sarri himself.
Chelsea are still fighting for their top four place in the Premier League, while Manchester City remain in a heated battle with Liverpool at the summit. This makes a Carabao Cup win ever more important for both sides.
Back in December Chelsea managed to inflict Man City’s first Premier League defeat, securing a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge, with stand out performances from Kante and David Luiz. But will Sarri be able to motivate his players to achieve the same level of performance at Wembley?
Will his marquee signings Jorginho and Gonzalo Higuain perform on the day? Will Chelsea be able to perform their heavy possession style of play against such a high pressing side in such an important game? It’s all to play for on February the 24th.
Some key players on the day
Jorginho: The Italian midfielder is central to Sarri’s footballing style of play and he paid £50 million for the Napoli playmaker back in the summer. However, in recent big games it has proved easy to press and mark him out of the game - as Aaron Ramsey executed in their 2-0 defeat against Arsenal. Yet, if Jorginho manages to live up to some of his high level performances earlier in the season and at Napoli then he will prove to be a key player in terms of Chelsea preventing Man City from gaining control of the game. Whilst at Napoli he was never truly tested at the same tempo which teams like Man City play at. This will therefore be an important game for him to step up to the mark and live up to the expectations.
Higuain: Despite a debut to forget in the Premier League, he quickly recovered with a strong home debut, scoring a brace against Huddersfield. With the curse of the Chelsea No.9 shirt, with the likes of Morata and Fernando Torres struggling to make their mark at Chelsea, can Higuain prove to be the striker Chelsea fans have been longing for? The Carabao Cup final would be the perfect time for him to put his mark on English football.
Hazard: Chelsea’s main man will prove vital in gaining the trophy. One of the best players in the Premier League, with 12 goals and 10 assists this season; Hazard must be up to the mark if Chelsea are going to get anywhere near winning. He will prove to be a huge threat to the Man City side and will be a key player in securing a Chelsea win.
De Bruyne: One of best players in world and a former Chelsea player, De Bruyne without a doubt will be a vital man in this match if chosen to start. With the Belgian being injured for large parts of this season and fatigue telling in the recent Arsenal game, the question is whether he will be able to stand the test of a gruelling final against a topside who keep the ball, especially with the possibility of a 120 minute game on the horizon. If I were a Chelsea fan I would be crossing my fingers for a lacklustre De Bruyne performance.
Fernandinho: Two of Man City’s four losses this season have come in two of the games Fernandinho has missed. Arguably the only irreplaceable Man City player in his role, he will be crucial to City’s performance. With Chelsea most likely opting to play through the middle with less width, with Hazard playing as more of an inverted winger and Higuain dropping deep, Fernandinho’s role will be even more important than normal and hence critical to a Carabao cup win.
Ederson has as many assists (or more) this season than all these big names 👀— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 21, 2019
Yup. 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/WvlGb0mApl
Ederson: Proving to be one of Guardiola’s best signings, Ederson’s role in the City team can never be underestimated. Despite Ederson gaining most of his plaudits for his ability on the ball and ability to start attacks, this game could see him having to make some big saves, like his impressive save against Roma in the Champions League earlier this season. Ederson is epitome of the modern day sweeper keeper and his ability to read the game and cut out attacks will prove fundamental in this game.
A very close game, if I had to put my money on a team it would be Man City with a score prediction of 3-1 to Guardiola’s side.
Featured image by Flickr / @cfcunofficial (Chelsea Debs) London
What do you think the result will be on Sunday? Let us know your thoughts!