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Nic Ladds 27th Feb 2010 - 16:58

Fergie to make it Wayne's World

You would expect Manchester United to be clear and deserved favourites in this final but with the news that Sir Alex Ferguson could rest Wayne Rooney - it turns this tie on its head. Aston Villa have beaten their opponents already this season and on cup final day - anything can happen.

As I write this, it is not clear whether the best striker in the world will start the match; if he does then the Red Devils surely have the quality to win their fourth League Cup. Without him, I really fancy Aston Villa to cause an upset. If you fancy Villa, make sure to get on them early as if Rooney doesn't play - their odds could shorten.

Rooney has stated his hunger to play though and in all likelihood, I do think he will start. Villa's record against United isn't the best historically with their 1-0 win earlier this season their first win in 26 matches. This isn't just any match though and on their day Villa can certainly cause United some problems.

Aston Villa (7/2) are classed as the home team in this Wembley tie. This will be their eighth League Cup final and they are surprisingly the competitions second most successful club with five final wins and two runners up medals to their names. Despite this success they are without silverware in 14 years and Martin O'Neil will hope they can put an end to that run.

This will be Man Utd's (5/6) seventh League Cup final, they have won three and lost four and they will hope to balance it out with a win here. They have appeared at the new Wembley six times already and have only managed to win when it goes to penalties; this match is 9/2 to go all the way to a shoot-out.

O'Neill will be pleased to see Stiliyan Petrov return from a virus which means he has an almost fully fit squad to pick from. Only Marlon Harewood and Nigel Reo-Coker miss out, James Collins and Emile Heskey are back from recent knocks and available for selection.

United are without some influential names, along with long term absentees Owen Hargreaves and John O'Shea, they have Nani, Anderson, Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs sidelined. Fergie likes to pick the smaller names but the harder workers in such big games so don't be surprised to see Ji-Sung Park or Darren Fletcher start in the middle.

Villa's top scorer is Gabby Agbonlahor, he has 14 goals in all competitions, four in his last five, and the pacey front man is 15/2 to score first or 9/4 at any time. He also has two goals in three against United so he is certainly capable of it.

In the League Cup, James Milner is their leading scorer and is looking like a real prospect for England's World Cup squad since being moved in to the centre of the park. He has three goals and is 12/1 to add to that tally first or 5/1 anytime.

Rooney is in the form of his life and having his most prolific season ever, his tally is currently stands at 27 and if he starts, he is a decent price at 9/2 to score first or 6/5 any time. If he is rested, it will be down to either Dimitar Berbatov (11/2) or Michael Owen (6/1) to bag the goals.

O'Neil has won this cup twice before with different clubs so he knows how to handle these big events, but obviously not many know it more than his opposite number Ferguson as he looks for his 32nd major honour.

I think if Rooney plays and he plays well, there is not much the Villains can do to avoid defeat but if he doesn't play and Villa play out of their skins then this could be a really close encounter. Whatever the teams, I really hope for a thrilling cup encounter, and with two teams that are good to watch, we have every chance.



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