Carling Cup Semi Final First Leg
Manchester City will not want to be dumped out of two Cup competitions in the space of just a few days so expect them to take a commanding lead in their first leg tie against Liverpool.
Roberton Mancini’s side will arguably be weakened going into the match after losing the appeal over Vincent Kompany’s red card in their FA Cup defeat against Manchester United on Sunday. Kompany begins his four match suspension against the Reds while both Kolo and Yaya Toure are on Africa Cup of Nations duty.
City will be boosted by the return of Gareth Barry from suspension but Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and David Silva may also be absent tonight.
Liverpool will again be without striker Luis Suarez, who serves the third of his eight-match suspension. The goal scoring responsibility will be passed on to the below-par Andy Carroll who was linked with a cut-price return to former club Newcastle United today.
Carroll may not be able to benefit from a Stewart Downing supply line after the former Aston Villa and Middlesbrough winger’s off-field troubles threatens his place in tonight’s starting eleven. Kenny Dalglish’s side should be boosted by Steven Gerrard who is nearing full fitness. If anybody can rally the team for this match then it’s Gerrard who has made over 560 appearances for Liverpool since making his debut during the 1998-99 season.
This match comes little more than a week after the two sides met in a Premier League clash with City running out comfortable 3-0 winners. Mancini’s side have won all 10 league fixtures at home this season, scoring 31 goals and conceding just four.
By comparison, Liverpool have struggled on the road in the Premier League – scoring just 10 goals in as many games which have produced five wins, four defeats and a single draw.
City are looking for a sixth successive home victory in a League Cup fixture and my prediction is they will get it.
Verdict: Manchester City @ 2.0 (bet365)
- Liverpool @ 4.0 (Sky Bet)
- Draw @ 3.4 (Bet Victor)
Unsurprisingly, it is Sergio Aguero who gets the bookmakers nod as favourite to break the deadlock tonight. Since joining City from Atletico Madrid in the summer, the diminutive striker has scored 17 goals in 27 appearances. He cost the same amount of money that Liverpool paid Newcastle United for Andy Carroll, £35 million, but looks a bargain by comparison. Aguero can be backed at 6.0 (Ladbrokes) to draw first blood.
Selected other first goalscorers:
- Mario Balotelli @ 6.5 (Sky Bet)
- Edin Dzeko @ 6.5 (Coral)
- David Silva @ 9.0 (Betfred)
- Andy Carroll @ 10.0 (Ladbrokes)
- Craig Bellamy @ 10.0 (Paddy Power)
- Steven Gerrard @ 11.0 (bet365)
- Samir Nasri @ 11.0 (Bet Victor)
- Dirk Kuyt @ 11.0 (Paddy Power)
- Adam Johnson @ 12.0 (Coral)
- Charlie Adam @ 17.0 (Sportingbet)
- James Milner @ 17.0 (Sky Bet)
- Maxi Rodriguez @ 21.0 (Paddy Power)
- No Goalscorer @ 11.0 (Bet Victor)
Again, it’s Aguero who heads the bookmaker’s list to get his name on the scoresheet but for a little more value, why not go for Steven Gerrard @ 4.5 (Paddy Power). Gerrard is a big game player and if the Reds are awarded a penalty, you can be sure he will take it.
Selected other anytime goalscorers:
- Sergio Aguero @ 2.38 (bet365)
- Mario Balotelli @ 2.75 (Paddy Power)
- Edin Dzeko @ 2.75 (Ladbrokes)
- David Silva @ 3.75 (Paddy Power)
- Andy Carroll @ 4.2 (Paddy Power)
- Craig Bellamy @ 4.2 (Paddy Power)
- Samir Nasri @ 4.2 (Paddy Power)
- Dirk Kuyt @ 4.5 (Ladbrokes)
- Adam Johnson @ 4.5 (Coral)
- Charlie Adam @ 6.5 (Sportingbet)
- James Milner @ 7.0 (Ladbrokes)
- Maxi Rodriguez @ 8.5 (Paddy Power)
If you believe City will have as easy a time of it against Liverpool as they did eight days ago, you can back a 3-0 home victory at best odds of 21.0 (Ladbrokes).
Selected other correct scores:
- Manchester City 1-0 @ 8.0 (Bet Victor)
- Manchester City 2-0 @ 10.0 (Coral)
- Manchester City 2-1 @ 10.0 (Ladbrokes)
- Manchester City 3-1 @ 21.0 (Bet Victor)
- Manchester City 3-2 @ 34.0 (Bet Victor)
- Draw 0-0 @ 11.0 (Bet Victor)
- Draw 1-1 @ 7.5 (Ladbrokes)
- Draw 2-2 @ 17.0 (Sky Bet)
- Draw 3-3 @ 81.0 (Sportingbet)
- Liverpool 1-0 @ 12.0 (Bet Victor)
- Liverpool 2-0 @ 23.0 (Ladbrokes)
- Liverpool 2-1 @ 19.0 (Ladbrokes)
- Liverpool 3-0 @ 67.0 (Betfred)
- Liverpool 3-1 @ 41.0 (Bet Victor)
- Liverpool 3-2 @ 41.0 (Coral)