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For the last six years the League cup has been in the possession of Manchester, well no more! In truth, it has mostly resided at the Etihad Stadium, with City enjoying five of those wins and United only one. The Citizens won finals against Liverpool (2016) and Chelsea (2019) in that period and on penalties both times.
Carabao Cup Final – Chelsea v Liverpool
Sunday, February 27: 4.30pm
Sky Sports Main Event
With the second and third best teams in the Premier League clashing at Wembley in the final on Sunday, it’s reasonable to expect another close encounter.
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The two managers know each other on the pitch better than most other pairs of bosses you care to name. Their careers have taken very similar paths, managing Mainz and Dortmund before heading overseas, and Jurgen Klopp is the manager Thomas Tuchel has faced more than any other.
The Chelsea boss only has three victories from their 17 clashes, but the first 10 occurred when Tuchel was in his first managerial role with underdogs Mainz. Since Klopp moved to Liverpool he has two wins, three draws and two defeats, and he hasn’t beaten Chelsea in the three matches since Tuchel took over there either.
Both teams approach this final in great form. The Blues have won their last six matches in all competitions, becoming world champions along the way, while the Reds are on a run of nine consecutive victories.
The two league clashes this season were draws (1-1 at Anfield in August, then 2-2 at the Bridge last month), and though Liverpool comfortably led the underlying stats, they played against 10 men for half of the first clash after Reece James was sent off for handling the ball on the line.
Chelsea can point to wins in the last two domestic cup clashes between the sides, while Liverpool have only lost one of the eight in the league over the last four seasons, and that at an empty Anfield in the middle of an injury crisis.
Just two of the last 12 English cup finals have seen one side win by more than a single goal, and both of those when City faced relative no-hopers in the form of Watford and Arsenal.
It would be a surprise if this were any different so let’s sit on the fence and take a draw in 90 minutes.
If we focus on the last four seasons, the eight major domestic cup finals played in England have seen seven instances of a team scoring nil, with Chelsea and City playing out a goalless draw in 2019 which featured just 14 shots in total in the 90 minutes.
But where those sides cancelled each other out, that hasn’t occurred too often when the Blues have faced Liverpool.
You only have to look back five meetings to find a match between these sides which ended 5-3, but of course that was when Chelsea were employing the comedy defensive stylings of Frank Lampard.
Even so. Klopp’s boys have only failed to score once in the league this season, and in that game (a 1-0 loss at Leicester) they contrived to squander five clear-cut chances.
And their high line offers opportunities for teams with the talent to exploit it. Chelsea have only drawn a blank in one league game which wasn’t against City, so both teams should score here.
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Matches among two of the Premier League’s big six clubs usually feature plenty of corners. Only four of the 20 such matches so far in 2021/22 have contained fewer than 10, and the average has been 12 per game.
That pattern has played out for these teams in all their matches too, with both Liverpool and Chelsea seeing an average of around 11 corners in their league games this term.
With records like that, and an end-to-end encounter likely, there should be over 12.5 corners.
It might seem odd to say there aren’t many cards when these sides meet considering Chelsea have received a red in two of the last four clashes, but they’ve only had three bookings in those games too.
But though Liverpool’s games have been card light this season – only City and West Ham’s league matches have averaged fewer yellows – it feels like there could be a few here.
No referee can ever hope to match Mike Dean when it comes to handing out cards, but cup final ref Stuart Attwell is the best of the rest. As he averages 3.6 per game, we should be okay for a bet on over 3.5 cards.
Both teams to score: Yes
Over 12.5 corners
Over 3.5 Cards
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