The first domestic silverware of the season will be travelling north out of Wembley, after Sunday’s Capital One Cup final, to one of the north-west’s two great, footballing strongholds; Liverpool or Manchester.
And you get the feeling that two players who each have a point to prove will be instrumental, at some time during the afternoon, in determining the final destination of the trophy.
Whilst Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure are such crucial and influential cogs in Manchester City’s finely tuned team and with Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson matching them on the Liverpool side, where this match is concerned you can’t help thinking that the last word will go to someone outside those two groups of key players.
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Two years ago, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling were playing alongside each other in a Liverpool side that was flattening anything that stood in its path.
One was the tormentor; the creator of opportunities, whilst the other was the clinician; the cold, calculated finisher.
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Points to prove
Now Sterling and Sturridge find themselves back on the same pitch together once more, but on opposing sides, as adversaries, rather than as teammates; both with a point to make.
Following his, at times, controversial move from Liverpool to City, last summer, it’s likely that Raheem Sterling will have no trouble motivating himself for this game.
The player himself as well as his employers, past and present, will no doubt deny that, as they did before these two sides last met.
But following Liverpool’s decisive and comprehensive 4-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium, just 13 weeks ago, in which Sterling contributed little, it will be difficult to imagine that ‘point proving and revenge’, both for the player and his new club, will not be too far from their private thoughts.
As will surely be the case as far as Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge is concerned, although for different reasons.
Having missed most of Liverpool’s season through injury problems which have been well documented, analysed and discussed, the Capital One Cup showpiece provides Sturridge with the ideal platform to make a point.
Sturridge’s absence from a Liverpool team that has been depleted of its best players became a near-obsessional focus for much of the media and various other pundits and ex-players.
There were some who questioned his attitude and mentality, while others went even further in criticising his perceived lack of effort as he returned from injury, by suggesting he should be ashamed of himself.
It would be stretching belief to the extreme, to think that none of that criticism hurt the player.
Like Sterling though, the striker would, no doubt, play down such talk but one imagines that he might look upon this match, against his one-time strike colleague, Sterling, as the perfect stage to make a point.
With England manager Roy Hodgson watching on, the Capital One Cup Final also provides Sturridge with the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.
Silence those who have questioned him and doubted his attitude, whilst showing the England manager that he is still his number one striking option, ahead of Leicester’s Jamie Vardy and Tottenham’s Harry Kane and alongside England captain, Wayne Rooney.
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