By Tony Alvarez
As you know both Laurie and I chose a team at the start of the Carlintg Cup and followed them throughout the competition if they lose we follow the team that beat them.
With only 4 sides left myself and Laurie both found ourselves with the same side Crystal Palace as you can see Laurie has already published a preview of that game and I’m sure you don’t want to read the same thing twice so I will look ahead to arguably the bigger clash of the two semi finals Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City vs Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool.
We are at the stage now where the Carling Cup becomes a 2 legged affair so tomorrows clash at the Ethiad Stadium is not the be all and end all.
City have reached this stage with 3 victories the first was a very hard fought 1-0 win at the Emirates against Arsenal where a late Sergio Aguero goal was enough to see them through, prior to that they had an impressive 5-2 win away at Wolves with goals from Adam Johnson, Samir Nasri, a brace tfrom Edin Dzeko and an own goal from Wolves keeper De Vries.
In the third round (the first for them) they beat the current holders Birmingham with goals from Owen Hargreaves and the enigmatic Italian Mario Balotelli.
Liverpool booked their semi final place after a 2-0 victory away at Chelsea thanks to goals from Maxi Rodriguez and full back Martin Kelly.
Prior to the victory at Chelsea Dalglish’s men won a very tough fixture away at Stoke City after going a goal down two Luis Suarez strikes saw them progress to the next round.
In the 3rd round Liverpool overcame Brighton at the Sussex clubs new home, strikers from Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt meant that Ashley Barnes late penalty was nothing more than a consolation strike.
Due to having no European commitments Liverpool had to play in the second round where they won 3-1 away at Exeter, goals from Suarez, Maxi and Andy Carroll again meant that Exteter’s late penalty converted by Daniel Nardiello was no more than a consolation.
Man City come into this game off a defeat in their own back yard to their bitter rivals as they lost 3-2 to Manchester United in the FA Cup on Sunday, although it was a defeat it has been described as a moral victory as they were 3-0 down and down to 10 men and nearly salvaged a draw.
They will be without Vincent Kompany due to his sending off in that fixture which means he is now serving a 4 match ban, they will also be without Yaya and Kolo Toure who are on international duty at the African Cup on nations. It is unknown if strikers Edin Dzeko or Mario Balotelli will return from injuries in time for this fixture.
Liverpool’s FA cup third round tie was on Friday mean not only do they have extra days rest and preparation but also their fixture was a lot easier.
With the greatest of respect to Oldham Liverpool’s 5-1 victory was a lot easier and more routine than Man City’s fixture although it wasn’t any less incident packed for the wrong reasons.
Liverpool have no players on duty in Africa and have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the tie although they will of course be without their influential striker Luiz Suarez who is serving an 8 match ban for comments made to Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
Of course the two clubs met at the Ethiad less than a fortnight ago and on that occasion City ran out comfortable 3-0 winners I expect this to be a lot tighter with City’s absentees and the fact that both sides will be mindful that this is a two legged affair.
My money would be on City over the two ties but would not be surprised if tomorrows affair is a bore draw.
What are your thoughts? Who will go through to the Wembley final? What will the score be tomorrow? How big a miss will the Toure’s and Kompany be for City?
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