Wednesday, 25 January 2012
Carling League Cup
Liverpool v Man City, (agg 1-0), SF, L2, 19:45
Author: Thomas Rooney 24/01/2012
A place in the Carling Cup final awaits for Liverpool or Manchester City as they go head to head in the second-leg of their semi-final clash on Wednesday evening.
It is Liverpool who lead from the first leg of course. They came away from the Etihad Stadium a couple of weeks ago with a 1-0 victory, with a Steven Gerrard penalty the only goal of the game.
They will now be desperate to make this advantage count and progress to the first Wembley final of the season. It would certainly be a welcome boost after a far from positive few weeks for Kenny Dalglish’s men.
In fact, the win at City in the first-leg stands out as their only genuine positive moment from the last month or so. There have of course been off the field issues, but things haven’t been much better on the pitch.
Since the first-leg victory, Liverpool played a bizarrely negative team at home to Stoke City and drew 0-0 before a 3-1 defeat at relegation threatened Bolton. After the defeat at the Reebok Stadium, Dalglish publically criticised his players, so he will want a response from them on Wednesday night.
As for City, well they have won two Premier League games since the first-leg, keeping themselves on top of the table and three points clear of rivals Manchester United.
The victory over Tottenham on Sunday was particularly significant for Roberto Mancini’s men. It meant that Spurs fell eight points behind them in the league, which is a significant gap at this stage of the season.
It is all about the Carling Cup for now though. When City won the FA Cup last year, they said it was the first of many pieces of silverware and this year’s Carling Cup is the latest piece up for grabs.
It would show a lot of character for the Premier League leaders to overturn the first-leg deficit too. If they can come away from Anfield with a place in the final, it will have displayed their extremely encouraging winning mentality.
The team news for two Premier League big guns in the Carling Cup is always interesting, but on this occasion it looks as if they will play as strong a team as they possibly can. With a Championship team set to be the opposition in the final, both teams know this is an excellent shot at a trophy.
Liverpool may be tempted into a few changes though, given how poor the performance was at Bolton last time out. As for City, they will be without suspended captain Vincent Kompany as well as Yaya and Kolo Toure who are on African Cup of Nations Duty.
Overall, it should be a fascinating match on Wednesday evening. Knowing they need to win the game, City will be positive from the first whistle and this could lead to a very open contest.
It is a tough one to call in terms of a prediction, but City are in good spirits after the weekend and their attacking approach could be too much for Liverpool.