Sunday will see Manchester City face off against Liverpool in this years League Cup Final. Eight time winners, Liverpool, faced Augsburg in the Europa League before Sundays game, while Manchester City, three time winners, have to traveled to Kiev and back.
Over the next few days, in build up to this seasons League Cup Final I want to look at Wembley matches involving City. Yesterday I chose one from the old Wembley, the 1934 FA Cup victory against Portsmouth. Today, one from the new Wembley, where Sundays game will take place. Finally, tomorrow, I will give you my favorite overall.
Manchester City have made seven trips to Wembley since 2011, two FA Cup Finals, two Semi Finals, the League Cup win and three Community Shields. So which one to pick? It would be easy to look at our first FA Cup victory or first League Cup victories but for me, one of the most important games City have played at ‘New' Wembley is the FA Cup Semi Final in 2011.
The pressure was on Manchester City, the noisy neighbors of the City. The banner still remained hanging at Old Trafford indicating just how long it had been since the Blues had won a trophy. Under Mancini the blues had come so close at the Semi Final stage of the League Cup just over a year before. Flashbacks to the two legged victory, and eventual success over United, in 1969 were increased when, thanks to Carlos Tevez, City finished the first leg with the exact same score as Colin Bell and Francis Lee gave us all those years ago. It was not to be though as City fell to a 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford and it was United in yet another Cup Final.
Just over 86,000 were in attendance as City faced United in another important game. Remember at that point City were a little over two years into the takeover and, had yet, nothing substantial to show. Before the game there had been talk of a weakened Manchester United side being put out but, with United still having hopes of a treble, and the fact it was his ‘noisy neighbor' the eleven in red was as strong as a United side could be.
The game was slow for the first quarter of an hour as each side a little weary of the other. United sprung into action first with only Joe Harts quick reactions stopping Berbatov in his tracks. The red's were in the ascendancy and City wouldn't get their first real chance until after the half an hour mark from a David Silva cross. Balotelli got the ball stuck under his feet though and when it came to Gareth Barry the angle was too narrow to hot anything but side netting.
That seemed to wake City up though as Balotelli would soon force a save from Van Der Sar, Lescott volleyed over the bar, a miss from Kompany and the blocking of a Yaya Toure shot from Vidic.
The second half started as the first had ended and the pressure seemed to get to the United back line. The keeper played his defenders into danger with a weak clearance before Carrick made the situation worse by losing the ball to Toure. The Ivorian ran at goal, holding off Vidic before firing a low shot under the keeper, who had started the whole catastrophic chain reaction.
United came back to life for a brief while before Paul Scholes and Pab Zab went for the same high ball. Whereas Zabaletta's lunge actually got the ball the only thing Scholes got was Pablos thigh....followed by a red card.......followed by an early, lonely bath and then, most likely, some hair dryer treatment. Berbatov was sacrificed for Anderson and the game was all but won for City.
Mancini's post match press conference was fantastic, with talk of the City fans ‘deserving this' and the now almost prophetic line ‘It is important to win trophies, and I stand by my claim that if we win the FA Cup this year we can try for the title next season.' We won that FA Cup and the next season came that title. For Sir Alex, always gracious in defeat, declined comment to the waiting written press and when he saw Mancini still talking in the press conference room, decided not to bother with that either.
He knew that with that game there had been a power shift in Manchester and English football, and that is why I chose the FA Cup Semi Final 2011 as my pick for City's games at the New Wembley.