Craig Bellamy recently said that, “my time will not be judged by medals”; however, he will get a chance to boost his résumé this Sunday as his Liverpool squad faces off against Championship side Cardiff City in the Carling Cup Final. Although Liverpool comes in as heavy favorites, it would be behoove them to not forget Birmingham’s upset of Arsenal in last year’s final.
This game is the culmination of fixtures between teams of each of the English leagues since the beginning of August. Liverpool had a tough road to get this point, as they had to advance past Chelsea and Manchester City in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. Cardiff City, on the other hand, faced rather weak competition in Championship foes Crystal Palace and Premier League strugglers Blackburn Rovers, respectively.
Liverpool welcomes back Daniel Agger and Craig Bellamy to the team as they return to fitness. They will most likely replaces deputies Jamie Carragher and Jordan Henderson in the starting lineup. The latter most likely being replaced because of his run of poor form. Not only does Liverpool have two returning starters, but also they will be boosted by Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll’s return to form.
Furthermore, Cardiff City has had a decent run of form that has seen them occupy a playoff spot in the Championship. Even though Cardiff lost Craig Bellamy in the summer to their opponents, they went out and replaced him with Scottish international Kenny Miller.
All in all, Liverpool should handle this final rather easily, but Cardiff will still pose a challenge. Cardiff should look to last year’s final as inspiration for a strong performance because of Birmingham’s shocker over Arsenal.
My prediction: Liverpool 4-1 Cardiff