The Carabao Cup final will take place later today, as holders Manchester City try to win their third successive League Cup.
Manchester City have won six League Cups, one less than their opponents Aston Villa, who last won it in 1996. Both teams have had contrasting seasons – City at the top of the league, trying to catch Liverpool, while Villa are near the relegation zone, fighting for survival.
Pep Guardiola’s men overcame Manchester United to reach the finals, while Dean Smith’s side defeated Leicester City in what was a shock result.
The last time City and Villa faced off against each other in the Premier League, City won the game 6-1. The last time that City lost to Villa was back in 2013; they have since won 7 of the encounters, drawing just once.
Ahead of the Carabao Cup final, let’s take a look at 3 key battles between Manchester City and Aston Villa:
Aston Villa vs Manchester City -3 Key Battles
#1 Sergio Aguero vs Tyrone Mings
City’s top goal-scorer of the season, Sergio Aguero, was an unused substitute in the side’s 2-1 win against Real Madrid in the Champions League.
The Argentine should return for the League Cup final, starting as the main striker for the holders. The Argentine scored a hat-trick against Villa in City’s 6-1 win earlier this season, and he could trouble the Lions once again.
Tyrone Mings has been Villa’s best defender this season and he will have to be at his best to stop Aguero. Mings could use his physicality to contain Aguero, which could make this an interesting clash.
#2 Jack Grealish vs Kyle Walker
Villa’s most important player is Jack Grealish, who could hurt City from the left side. Guardiola’s side have looked shaky time and again, and following Aymeric Laporte’s injury against Real Madrid, Villa will be hopeful of taking advantage of City’s lacklustre defending.
Grealish could target Kyle Walker, using his dribbling ability to drive between the right-back and centre-back.
When City are on the front-foot, Walker is a menace, but on the counter, Grealish and Villa could get some joy against Walker.
#3 Kevin de Bruyne vs Marvelous Nakamba
Kevin de Bruyne put on yet another master-class in the win over Real Madrid and he will be a key player for City once again in the final.
The Manchester City player could be given a free role in midfield to dictate the tempo of the match, and create chances for his side.
Villa manager Dean Smith may task Marvelous Nakamba the duty of marking the Belgian midfielder and not giving him time and space to put in those inch-perfect crosses into the box.