When we’re good, we’re very good. We’ve proven that this season in the first-5, devastating games; again against Sevilla away and again for large parts against a very lively Dynamo Kyiv side last Wednesday.
Klopp will have his team equally lively, organised and ‘up for it’ but if we play to our strengths and the players have belief in themselves then we can take these…and take the cup home with us to Manchester.
I'm just about to set off ‘down there’ for this one and so it’s a fairly brief piece. Predicted line-up, subs and outcome…
Well…our manager has already nailed his colours to having the Argentine keeper in for both domestic cup competitions and, so, I suppose he has to honour that agreement right to the end.
I’ve said it before; Gael, Vinny, Nicholas & Zaba is probably our strongest possible defence we have (and that’s certainly taking nothing whatsoever away from Bacary, who played on Wednesday night after returning from a slight niggly injury).
‘Same again’ I think for the rest – Fernando to ‘sit in’, Fernandinho certainly ahead of him either in the middle or on the right wing (a bit of a shock decision against Kyiv but one that worked AND, which, allowed David to be in his more-dangerous position in the middle) and Yaya ‘in the mix’ somewhere in the middle too. Raheem & David in support further forward (David, as I say, possibly in the middle and ‘just off’) and Sergio to continue his fine form up front.
He could start Kelechi instead of Yaya ‘just off’ – I did consider that…
Strong defensive bench - Joe the back-up keeper; Aleks, Bacary and Eliaquim all in there as defensive change-options. No real midfield choices in ‘the 7’ that I can see, although we do have others on the pitch already who can 'move around'. A returning right-wing option perhaps in Jesus Navas who has been back in training slightly earlier than origianlly thought; possibly TWO strikers as cover in the form of the returning Wilfried and Kelechi.
Notable absences: Martin Demichelis (not selected), Kevin De Bruyne (injured), Fabian Delph (injured), and Samir Nasri (injured). A much shorter-looking injury list!
Do I agree with Pellegrini’s (predicted) line-up?
In respect of the goalkeeper? Absolutely NOT! I’m sorry people - on this occasion I don’t give a flying whatsit for loyalty and "promises made" in this case.
Why? Well if the idea is to win a trophy and, in attempting to do so play your best fit & available players in a final (I’ll underline that last bit just in case Alan Shearer is reading), then you play Joe Hart in net – simple as that.
Do you want a Why? number 2? Simply put, Joe is currently our ‘player of the season’ by a mile at the moment, in my opinion.
Want a Why? number 3? For every decent shot-stop Willy makes he makes 2 or 3 howling mistakes and, to be blunt, he scares the **** out of me a lot of the time!
I don’t want that doubt in my net, in a final, against ANYONE!
Other than that, I might be tempted to selection Kelechi Iheanacho in place of Yaya Toure just behind Sergio Aguero but all else looks fine to me.
Result? This is a real, hard-to-call, 50/50 game. Both teams with spluttering, stuttering form and, of course, in a final anything can happen in a ‘one off’.
Despite our unpredictable nature this season, however, I’m going for a stronger-core side - following some injury returners at least - and expect them to be buoyed by their performance and result in the Ukraine 3 days ago; taking that confidence and turning this one into a trophy-winning victory.
It MIGHT take extra time but it’s a Blue, flag-waving Wembley win for me!