Carabao Cup final: Chelsea v Manchester City
Carabao Cup final: Chelsea v Manchester City
Pep Guardiola says his opinion of under-pressure manager Maurizio Sarri is “always high” as holders Manchester City prepare to face Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley.
Chelsea boss Sarri’s future has been questioned after a 6-0 loss at City and defeat in the FA Cup this month.
Chelsea could be without number one goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has a hamstring injury.
Guardiola must decide whether to start Arijanet Muric or Ederson in goal.
Kosovo international Muric, 20, is City’s stand-in goalkeeper and has played in all the previous rounds, saving two penalties in the quarter-final shootout victory over Leicester.
Asked if Muric will start, Guardiola said: “We will see, I have to think about it. He is an important player to be where we are, he was important at Leicester in the penalties. He has been really good and we trust him.”
City defender John Stones is “getting better” following a groin injury, while full-back Benjamin Mendy and forward Gabriel Jesus could also feature after missing out in the Champions League in midweek.
Chelsea have doubts over full-back Davide Zappacosta, who has been ill, and forward Pedro, who has been suffering from stomach ache.
City never doubted me – Guardiola
Italian boss Sarri replaced compatriot Antonio Conte as Chelsea boss last summer but his future has already been put in doubt after City thrashed his side in the Premier League on 10 February.
That was followed up by a tame last-16 exit in the FA Cup at home against Manchester United on Monday, but Chelsea progressed in the Europa League by beating Malmo 5-1 on aggregate.
After the European game, Sarri said it will be a “disaster” if they start the final in the same manner as they did against their Swedish opponents on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Guardiola is into his third season at City and aiming to claim back-to-back League Cups with the club.
“In my first year never the club doubted me,” said Guardiola. “It was never in the media that I’d be sacked if we lose this game.
“When it was difficult I said we needed time and they supported me. The players knew who was the manager and who would be the manager.
“It was stable, that’s the best way to do something for a long time, not just a short period.
“I was surprised that when Antonio Conte won the title and they lost one or two games at the beginning of the season, people start to say he was going to be sacked.”
- Chelsea and Manchester City are set to face each other in a League Cup final for the first time – both sides have won the trophy five times with only Liverpool winning it more often (eight times).
- This is the first League Cup meeting between Chelsea and Manchester City since the third round in 1993-94, when Brian Horton’s City side won 1-0 at Maine Road with a goal from David White.
- Excluding Community Shield matches, Chelsea and Manchester City have only met in the final of a competition on one previous occasion – the 1985-86 Full Members Cup final at Wembley, a 5-4 victory for Chelsea, which remains the highest scoring final in Wembley history.
- Manchester City, 2018 winners of the League Cup against Arsenal, are looking to become only the fourth team to retain the trophy after Manchester United, Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
- Chelsea have already lost three times at Wembley this season, losing in the Community Shield against Manchester City and in the Premier League and League Cup semi-final against Spurs.
- Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus has scored more goals than any other player in this season’s League Cup (5) – but all five have come against League One sides. Jesus has never scored a League Cup goal against Premier League opposition in five games played.
- Should one, or more, of Manchester City trio David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero score, they could become the first players to score in back-to-back League Cup finals since Didier Drogba did so for Chelsea in 2007 and 2008.
- Since the start of the 2012-13 season, no player has been involved in more League Cup goals for a Premier League side than Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (14 – 8 goals, 6 assists).
- Aguero has scored 13 goals in 16 appearances in all competitions against Chelsea for Manchester City, only scoring more often against Newcastle United (15).
- Only three players have scored more goals for a top-flight club against an opponent at Wembley than Manchester City striker Aguero has against Chelsea (3) – Harry Kane against Southampton and Eric Cantona against Liverpool (4) and Ian Rush against Everton (5).
- Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri could become the second Italian to win the League Cup after Gianluca Vialli who won the trophy with the Blues in 1998.