The 2019 Carabao Cup Final is upon us, with Chelsea and Manchester City preparing for what promises to be a match to remember.
SETTING THE SCENE
Wembley Stadium awaits. Glory awaits.
Chelsea and Manchester City will contest this year's highly anticipated Carabao Cup Final on Sunday 24 February (kick-off 4:30pm), with silverware at stake for the first time in 2018/19. In fact, this will be the first-ever League Cup Final meeting between the sides, and first in the competition at any stage since the 1993/94 campaign.
Both sides go into this weekend's clash having won the competition on five occasions, meaning the victors will go outright second on the list of all-time winners by claiming a sixth triumph, with City - the current holders - looking to become just the fourth club to retain the trophy in consecutive years. Pep Guardiola's men won the competition last season by beating Arsenal 3-0 under the arch, while Chelsea have overcome the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham Hostpur to book their place at Wembley this time around. But who will come out on top?
Both sides head into the Final on the back of victories, and having scored three goals in the process. On Wednesday, City came from 2-1 down to beat FC Schalke 3-2 away from home and build an important lead in their Champions League Round of 16 tie.
A day later, Chelsea secured a routine 3-0 victory over Malmo to secure a place in the last 16 of the Europa League. In the Premier League, things haven't been quite so straightforward for the Blues, who have slipped to sixth in the table in recent weeks but remain within touching distance of the top four. City, meanwhile, are in the midst of a fascinating battle for the title with Liverpool, and occupy top spot on goal difference at the time of writing. Games between Chelsea and City haven't been short of drama, or goals, this season, which brings us on to the recent head-to-heads...
Sunday's match will be the 163rd meeting between Chelsea and City, including the first and only final played between the two sides to date - the inaugural Full Members' Cup Final in 1986.
The game remains the highest-scoring final in Wembley history, with Chelsea eventually running out 5-4 winners, having been 5-1 up on the day. If recent history is anything to go by, we might expect more goals this weekend.
Chelsea inflicted a first league defeat of the season on City with a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge in December, a result avenged in style by Guardiola's men just weeks ago. City won 6-0 when the sides met at the Etihad Stadium, with Segio Aguero - a scorer in last year's Carabao Cup Final - netting a hat-trick. Overall, Chelsea have beaten City on 67 occasions, with the Citizens coming out on top 56 times.
FOLLOW THE FINAL
The 2019 Carabao Cup Final will be shown live on Sky Sports Football, with coverage starting at 3:30pm, and on Sky Sports Main Event from 4pm. Live build-up and updates from the game will also be provided via @Carabao_Cup on Twitter and 'The Carabao Cup' on Facebook.
Those heading to Wembley can read a host of exclusive interviews and features, including those with the likes of Vincent Kompany and Eden Hazard, in the official matchday programme, which is available to purchase here.
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Referee Jon Moss will take charge of a League Cup Final for the first time in his career this weekend, completing the set of major finals. Moss will be assisted by Andy Halliday and Marc Perry on the day, while Paul Tierney will be on Fourth Official duty, with Constantine Hatzidakis acting as Reserve Assistant Referee.
Speaking of his selection, Moss said: “It is a big honour to be selected to officiate a major cup final and it is an occasion I am looking forward to overseeing. Having taken charge of the FA Cup Final and the Community Shield previously, the Carabao Cup Final was the one missing from the collection, so for me personally it is a proud moment in my career."