Manchester City's record against it's League Cup opponent does not make bad reading overall, although they have won just over a quarter of the games when played in Sunderland. The sides have met 122 times since their first game on the 7th September 1901 before the return fixture, in Manchester, on January 4th. Currently City enjoy a 49% win rate against the Black Cats, although those first two meetings ended in defeat for the blues.
In the 1903/04 season, when City would finish runners up in the top flight and win the FA Cup, they would not lose against Sunderland, and even dispatched them 3-2 in the first round of the FA Cup.
In that first decade in which City faced Sunderland there would be three times City would score five against their opponents. 5-2 in 1904 thanks to a hat trick from ‘Sandy' Turnbull helped City have their last good season for a while, thanks to the decimation of the squad and club as a whole quite honestly, after an FA investigation. The full implications of which would not be felt until the commission came back with their findings on May 31st 1906, a month and ten days after a 5-1 win for City against Sunderland. This time a hat trick from Irvine Thornley led City to victory.
Those two matches took place in Manchester while the third, a 5-2 win on the 2nd September 1907 was an opening day victory away from home, again a City player scored a hat trick, this time it was Robert Grieve.
On April 2nd 1923 City played Sunderland and beat them by a single Horace Barnes goal. This would be the last victory for City at Hyde Road before moving to Maine Road. 80 years on from that and it would be the same opposition who would become the last ones beaten at Maine Road before City moved on once more to their current location. Marc Vivien Foe scored two of the three in that game, including the last ever by a City player at that ground. Less than two months later he would collapse on the pitch while away on International duty, and pass away.
In the League cup goals from Toure, Nasri and Navas secured a 3-1 win and League and Cup double in Manuel Pellegrini's first season at City. They had previously met in a two legged third round tie back in 1979 in which Sunderland progressed.
As far as the competiton itself goes, City have won it three times and were beaten finalists on one other occasion. 1970, 1976 and of course 2014 saw the blues beat West Brom, Newcastle and of course Sunderland to lift the trophy. It would be Wolverhampton Wanderers who would provide the defeat in the 1974 final.
For Sunderland, of course there was the final reached in 2014 but also one in 1985. Playing against Norwich it was a Sunderland player to score the only goal of the game as Gordon Chisholm deflected an Asa Hartford shot past his own goalkeeper. Hartford, of course, had only left Manchester City the previous season. Both Norwich and Sunderland were relegated that season and, with a European ban in affect, Norwich didn't even have the comfort of being in the UEFA Cup the following season.
Along with Asa Hartford in the Norwich lineup that day was Mick Channon, also ex Manchester City. On the opposition was Gary Bennett, also ex City, although he never actually made any first team appearances for City.
That brings me on nicely to players who have turned out for both City and Sunderland. Of course you have Niall Quinn, ex City striker who went on to play, manage and then be chairman of Sunderland.
Adam Johnson is of course currently with Sunderland after leaving Manchester City. A young left wing talent while at City he has now played more games for Sunderland than City but his England potential never realized with more headlines written about off the field news than on field.
Dennis Tueart, the scorer of that wonderful overhead kick in the 1976 final, which proved to be the winning goal against Newcastle. That came only two seasons after leaving Newcastle's rivals, Sunderland, where he had started his career and made just under 200 appearances.
Currently, along with Adam Johnson, the current Sunderland squad boasts ex City players Costel Pantilimon and Jack Rodwell, although neither made significant appearances for City for various reasons.
Peter Reid has managed both clubs and moved into the hot seat at Sunderland after great seasons playing and managing City. Mick McCarthy is another linked. He began managing Sunderland two decades after his debut for City.
It is difficult to make assumptions about this game as it is more than likely Manuel Pellegrini will not field what most would consider a first choice eleven. With injuries being picked up, and more important games coming thick and fast, it may be confidence of youth selected for the game. It may also be true for Sunderland as the start to their season has been awful and focus might be on that, However, a win is a win and so, City will be looking for one to end the rot of two defeats in the last two games while Sunderland look for any signs their season isn't already over.