Tuesday Team Talk: Manchester City must banish Wembley demons and FA Cup heartbreak to win Capital One

It has been just over nine months since Ben Watson broke Manchester City hearts with his last-gasp header that handed the FA Cup to Wigan.

The City fans had expected their expensively-assembled side to roll over a side that was relegated from the Premier League only days later, and spent their time showing support for the under-fire boss Roberto Mancini.

How times have changed.

City must banish their Wembley ghosts this weekend when they take on Sunderland in the Capital One Cup Final and prove they have moved forward under the Uruguayan.

There is certainly much more at stake than last time round, when the likes of Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri meandered around Wembley stadium with one eye on their summer holidays.

And France international Nasri has already stressed that his Wembley heartbreak haunts him.

“I don’t have good memories (of Wembley) with clubs,” said Nasri. “I have lost a final there with Arsenal and with Manchester City, but I won there with the national team against England.

“I hope it is going to be the same kind of game (as the win).”

In reality, City have never prospered in the role of favourites.

It is a position the club as a whole is unfamiliar with as they constantly battle to move out of the shadow cast by Manchester United.

Last year’s Wembley horror show did little to shed the club’s ‘noisy neighbours’ tag and questioned the players’ attitude.

And they showed few signs of asserting themselves on the big stage last week when European giants Barcelona visited and left their European hopes hanging by a thread.

But a return to the capital will give the side the chance to prove they can win when it matters.

If the FA Cup Final is not motivation enough for City’s super-rich side then the glamour of the Capital One Cup is unlikely to get the pulses racing.

And it remains to be seen if the big players step up to grab the club’s third League Cup win, 38 years after Dennis Tueart’s wonderful overhead kick saw them beat Newcastle 2-1, ensuring the trophy would be coming back to Maine Road.

But this is a different regime from the Mancini merry-go-round and Pellegrini’s side have been remorseless in the competition this season.

19 goals have been struck in five Capital One Cup games as City have swept aside all their opponents with ruthless efficiency, with five coming from the boots of competition top scorer Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko just a goal behind.

While their continental and league challenge has stumbled slightly in recent weeks, few sides would be able to stop them if they can bring their cup form into the final.

But Sunderland are a dangerous side and will be doing everything they can to grab a rare trophy.

The Premier League strugglers have improved since Gus Poyet arrived on Wearside and showed their appetite for an upset with a battling semi-final victory over Manchester United.

City will be hoping to succeed where their Manchester rivals failed and can be reassured that the Capital One Cup has often seen the side billed as the favourites come out on top when the trophy is up for grabs.

Swansea provided a strong example of this when they ended Bradford City’s fairytale run last season, beating the Bantams 5-0 in the most one-sided final in the tournament’s 52-year history.

The Citizens will not make the mistake of underestimating the opposition this time around.

After all, the Mackems have had something of a ‘hoodoo’ over City away from The Etihad, winning all of the last five encounters 1-0, including the last meeting in November when former United defender Phil Bardsley did his old club a favour.

Even with this record, few will be betting on a Wigan-style shock from a side who were trounced 4-1 by Arsenal at the weekend.

And City fans will be hoping that come the 90 minute on Sunday they will be the ones celebrating and banishing their Wembley demons.

Image courtesy of Carl Recine, via Action Images, with thanks.

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