United v Villa - Third Time Lucky?
So, the Carling Cup final will be contested tomorrow between Manchester United and Aston Villa. A year ago, one would have said that Villa are the best possible opponents for Manchester United, having failed to beat us for 14 years - but since then, Villa won at Old Trafford and claimed a draw at Villa Park and in both games United had serious difficulties with breaking down a stubborn defence.
And that's what we can expect tomorrow: determined defending and quick counter-attacks. It is hyped up but I would be surprised if it ended up a classic: I think it will more likely resemble last season's final which was, for the most part, a borefest...
Last time these two teams met in a cup final we lost 3-1 despite lining up with one of the best teams of the club's history. Yet Saunders, Atkinson and co. beat us 3-1 in a game we never looked like winning after going behind in the 25th minute. That was a sickening blow back then but we had the last laugh, winning the Double that season.
This time around any kind of double is unlikely although theoretically possible. But let's face it: this is our best chance of silverware. The victory over Manchester City was hugely satisfying yet it won't be worth anything if we do not end up winning the thing.
Will United be third time lucky, then? The previous two games taught us not to underestimate Villa though this time we'll have Nemanja Vidic alongside Jonny Evans, a pairing that's stronger than either of the two fielded against Villa this season. Fergie will surely field a 4-3-3 again, Scholes, Fletcher and Carrick behind a front three of Valencia, Rooney and Park.
The boss hinted at resting Rooney but it's unlikely to happen: we need this trophy a lot and we could not beat Villa this season even with Rooney in the side, what chance we have without him?
We are back at Wembley, though, which is cool - it's high time to score there in a major final for once 'cause the last two ended 0-1, 0-0... depressing. Let's hope it will be better this time.