Tuesday’s Carling Cup – Arsenal v Manchester City
The Carling Cup clearly isn’t the highest priority for either Arsenal or Manchester City but the winners of their quarter-final at the Emirates will only be 180 minutes away from a Wembley appearance and several players on both sides will be aiming to show Arsene Wenger and Roberto Mancini that they may be worthy of a more regular starting appearance.
The Gunners have had a day longer than their opponents to recover from their last Premier League game in which they were forced to come from behind to prevent Fulham achieving a first-ever away win at Arsenal. Surely, this is a game in which Wenger will feel he can rest Robin van Persie without fear of reprisal. Gervinho and the much-maligned Marouane Chamakh both came off the bench against Fulham and should be on the pitch from the start against City, while Yossi Benayoun and a fit-again Tomas Rosicky could replace Aaron Ramsey and Mikael Arteta in midfield. Abou Diaby and Laurent Koscielny are also in line for recalls if Arsene Wenger does decide to shuffle his pack with Lucasz Fabianski likely to earn a rare start between the sticks.
City manager Mancini has had his hand forced somewhat by events at Anfield on Sunday with both Mario Balotelli and Gareth Barry suspended for the trip to the Emirates. Despite their struggles in the Champions League, City remain undefeated in domestic football and their second string put five past Wolves at Molineux in the last round without breaking sweat. We’ll probably see the likes of Costel Pantilimon and Luca Scapuzzi in action again in north London, though there’s also be a fair few internationals sporting the sky blue as well including England’s Adam Johnson, former Gunner Samir Nasri and top scorer Edin Dzeko, who didn’t figure at Liverpool after a tough night in Naples last week.
Arsenal may feel they have something to prove after blowing their chance of some silverware in the final of this competition last year. There’s just a chance that their second string may be more up for this tie than that of the opponents and, with home advantage, Arsenal are taken to extend their unbeaten run to 11 games and reward win odds of 19/10. Manchester City to score exactly one goal could be a decent bet at 9/5.