Final day, it's not what it was and what will feel worse

I told you the other day about a conversation I was having with a pal. For me, it's all about silverware and if we won today, I'd see this season as success, even if we got relegated. There is no prize for finishing seventeenth.

But losing today wouldn't feel as bad as getting relegated. And both are on the cards.


That doesn't mean to say that both will happen or in fact if either will happen. We could win and survive, but surviving is only going to be worth it if things get better next season. If we play the same football and lose as many games, I think I'd prefer to play in the Championship and win more. But football isn't like that any more.

Owners only spend the money to compete in the Premier League. If we go down, I can't see Dean Smith getting replaced, but if we stay up I can see Dean Smith losing his job. And it's only because sometimes, you don't need to do something twice to know it's not right.

But today is about optimism and hope and the face we're second from bottom in the Premier League is something to talk about next week. Or is it? It should be okay for me to mention also that if we win our game in hand by enough goals, we could move up to 15th. We wont win by that many goals, so if we win we would find ourselves 16th. Still not where we want to be, but better than 19th.

And that is how close it is at the bottom. But Watford showed us yesterday that on your day, you can beat anyone. Can we?

Match facts from the BBC

Head-to-head

  • This will be the 60th League Cup final and the 57th different match-up of teams in the final - Aston Villa and Manchester City have met four times previously in the competition, with Villa winning three times and City once.
  • This will be the first ever meeting between Aston Villa and Man City at Wembley and only their second ever at a neutral venue, with Man City winning 6-1 at Leeds Road in Huddersfield in the 1933-34 FA Cup semi-final.

Aston Villa

  • Aston Villa are competing in their ninth League Cup final, with only Liverpool playing in more (12) - they have won the trophy five times, most recently in 1996 against Leeds United.
  • Aston Villa are the fourth newly-promoted Premier League side to reach a League Cup, and the first since Wigan Athletic in 2005-06, who lost 4-0 to Man Utd. The other two won the trophy - Leicester City in 1996-97 and Blackburn Rovers in 2001-02.
  • Aston Villa have had 12 different scorers (excluding own goals) in the League Cup this season, four more than any other side and five more than Man City. The last team to have more in a campaign was Bristol City in 2017-18 (14).
  • Aston Villa have scored 19 League Cup goals this season, with Manchester City the last team to score 20 in a season back in 2013-14 (22). The Villans last scored more in a campaign during 1985-86, scoring 25 times.
  • Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has managed in two previous Wembley finals, losing the Football League Trophy final in 2014-15 with Walsall against Bristol City but winning 2-1 in last season's Championship play-off final with Villa against Derby.

Manchester City

  • Manchester City have won the League Cup six times, a tally surpassed only by Liverpool (eight). City have won the trophy in four of the last six seasons, including each of the last two; the only team to win it three years in a row are Liverpool, who won it in four consecutive years between 1981 and 1984.
  • Man City have won seven of their last eight matches against Aston Villa in all competitions (D1), scoring 26 goals and conceding just three across those games.
  • Manchester City have progressed or won the final of each of their last 18 domestic English cup ties (FA/League Cup), the longest run since Chelsea between October 2006 and February 2008 (also 18 in a row), whose run was ended by a League Cup final defeat against Spurs.
  • Man City striker Sergio Aguero has scored nine goals in his last five starts against Aston Villa, all in the Premier League, including a hat-trick in a 6-1 win in January.
  • The Argentine has scored five and assisted two more in nine appearances at Wembley for City, though he hasn't scored or assisted in his last two games there.
  • Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling has been directly involved in nine goals in his last five appearances at Wembley for club and country, scoring seven goals and assisting two more.
  • This will be Man City manager Pep Guardiola 25th final as a top-flight manager, winning 20 of the previous 24, including all five with City (two Community Shields, two League Cups, one FA Cup). Four of his previous seven finals have gone to penalty shootouts (W3 L1).