Monday, 9 January 2012

Carling Cup: Semi Final Previews

After the drama of the third round of the FA Cup, attention turns towards the Carling Cup. Which sees the first legs being played on Tuesday and Wednesday. The draw for the semi's threw up an all Championship tie with Crystal Palace facing Cardiff. The other tie put the big teams left in the competition together, Manchester City facing seven time winners Liverpool

#1 Crystal Palace v Cardiff City
This all Championship game gives one of the teams a great opportunity to play in a final and to grace the pitch at Wembley Stadium. Both sides beat Premier League opposition in their quarter finals and will be pleased to have avoided the big boys left in the competition. The first leg takes place at Selhurst Park, the home of Crystal Palace and Dougie Freedman's men will look to gain a solid first leg advantage before the teams meet again in two weeks in Cardiff. But after comfortably disposing of Blackburn Rovers in their quarter final, Cardiff City will make life very difficult for their opposition. Malky Mackay's men currently sit third in the Championship having lost only one in their last thirteen league games, and after defeat in the FA Cup at the weekend, the Bluebirds will want victory over their Championship rivals. Victory for Palace over Manchester United at Old Trafford in their quarter final will have certainly been the highlight in their season so far for Palace but for a team currently sitting in mid table a chance to play at Wembley will surely better that.

#2 Manchester City v Liverpool
After defeat to rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup on Sunday, Roberto Mancini's side will be looking to bounce back and will want to secure their first silverware of the season. A 3-0 defeat to City just over a week ago in the league will give Liverpool that added determination to want to win at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday. Kenny Dalglish's side did not turn up then and with the returning Steven Gerrard in goalscoring form, the Merseyside club will be out for revenge. City look set to be without captain and centre back Vincent Kompany after he was sent off at the weekend. Midfielder Yaya Toure, who has been one of City's star players this season has linked up with the Ivory Coast in preparation for the African Cup of Nations. Both players will be massively missed by City who will look towards playmaker David Silva and the natural goalscoring of Sergio Aguero for the team's inspiration. Liverpool are still without star striker Luis Suarez who continues his ban but fans will be pleased with the goalscoring form of Craig Bellamy who has scored 3 goals in his last 3 games in all competitions. Captain Steven Gerrard is a welcoming site to red's fans and his strength and prowess will certainly give the team a much needed boost

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