Carling Cup Semi Final First Leg
The eighth League Cup semi final between two non-top flight teams (and the first since 2000) pits Championship duo Crystal Palace against Cardiff City.
Cardiff go into this tie with superior league form, sitting in third place just two points off the automatic promotion slots while Palace have fallen away a little and find themselves eleventh. However, they are just three points away from the play-off places.
The Bluebirds beat Palace at home back in November by a 2-0 scoreline and having attended the match myself, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about Dougie Freedman’s side who were in the play-off places at the time.
Admittedly, Darren Ambrose did not participate in that match and he has been instrumental during Palace’s cup run this season, scoring a wonder goal to help knock out Manchester United in the last round.
Both teams fielded weakened sides in last weekend’s FA Cup fixtures and subsequently both were eliminated. Palace were missing key players through illness while Cardiff boss Malky Mackay rested the likes of Kenny Miller, Aron Gunnarson, captain Mark Hudson and the in-demand Peter Whittingham.
Palace go into this game with a great home record in the League Cup. Indeed, they have lost just twice in their last 30 fixtures in this competition, winning 24 of them. However, Cardiff have won three, drawn one and lost one of their last five trips to Palace in all competitions.
A tight match looks the safest bet because neither side will want to “lose” the first leg, giving them everything to play for when they meet again at the Cardiff City Stadium in a fortnight’s time. City have lost four of their last six away matches in the League Cup but have drawn seven of their 13 league matches on the road this season.
City manager Mackay has instilled a work ethic into his team and generally this campaign, Cardiff keep things tight at the back. A weakened defence was breached four times in their FA Cup defeat at West Brom last weekend but with a full-strength side, I can see this one ending goalless or possibly 1-1.
Verdict: Draw @ 3.25 (Bet Victor)
- Cardiff City @ 2.38 (Betfred)
- Crystal Palace @ 3.3 (bet365)
Crystal Palace midfielder Darren Ambrose has scored three goals in his last three appearances in the competition, including a wonder strike against Manchester United in the last round. The former Newcastle United player can be backed at 12.0 (Paddy Power).
Selected other first goalscorers:
- Kenny Miller @ 7.0 (Betfred)
- Robert Earnshaw @ 8.0 (Ladbrokes)
- Glenn Murray @ 8.0 (bet365)
- Jermaine Easter @ 8.0 (Paddy Power)
- Joe Mason @ 8.0 (Coral)
- Chris Martin @ 8.5 (Paddy Power)
- Wilfred Zaha @ 9.0 (Betfred)
- Rudy Gestede @ 9.0 (Paddy Power)
- Steffen Iversen @ 10.0 (bet365)
- Antonio Pedroza @ 10.0 (Bet Victor)
- Peter Whittingham @ 11.0 (Paddy Power)
- Sean Scannell @ 11.0 (Bet Victor)
- No Goalscorer @ 9.0 (Boylesports)
The bookmakers see Kenny Miller as the biggest goal threat and he netted in City’s 2-0 league defeat of Palace last year. Miller can be backed at 2.88 (bet365) to do the same again.
Selected other anytime goalscorers:
- Joe Mason @ 3.5 (Paddy Power)
- Robert Earnshaw @ 3.5 (Sportingbet)
- Glenn Murray @ 3.6 (bet365)
- Jermaine Easter @ 3.6 (Paddy Power)
- Chris Martin @ 3.75 (Paddy Power)
- Wilfred Zaha @ 4.0 (Paddy Power)
- Rudy Gestede @ 4.0 (Paddy Power)
- Steffen Iversen @ 4.33 (bet365)
- Antonio Pedroza @ 4.33 (bet365)
- Peter Whittingham @ 4.5 (Paddy Power)
- Sean Scannell @ 4.5 (bet365)
- Darren Ambrose @ 5.0 (Paddy Power)
The bookmakers believe this is going to be a tight match and 1-1 can be backed at a best price of 7.0 (Ladbrokes) or 0-0 at 9.0 (Boylesports).
Selected other correct scores:
- Crystal Palace 1-0 @ 8.5 (bet365)
- Crystal Palace 2-0 @ 15.0 (Sky Bet)
- Crystal Palace 2-1 @ 13.0 (Paddy Power)
- Crystal Palace 3-0 @ 41.0 (Ladbrokes)
- Crystal Palace 3-1 @ 29.0 (Coral)
- Draw 2-2 @ 17.0 (bet365)
- Draw 3-3 @ 101.0 (Sportingbet)
- Cardiff City 1-0 @ 7.5 (Bet Victor)
- Cardiff City 2-0 @ 13.0 (Paddy Power)
- Cardiff City 2-1 @ 11.0 (Ladbrokes)
- Cardiff City 3-0 @ 29.0 (Bet Victor)
- Cardiff City 3-1 @ 23.0 (Ladbrokes)