Liverpool face off against Manchester City on Wednesday evening in the second leg of the Carling Cup semi final. Liverpool lead the affair 1-0 but with at least 90 minutes still to play the tie is obviously very delicately poised. The second leg will take place at Anfield and with the home crowd roaring them on Liverpool will consider themselves favourite and the more likely of the two teams to succeed. Manchester City, by contrast, are coming off of the back of a very important victory against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon. The importance of that victory, and the manner in which it arrived (a penalty winner in the 94th minute), cannot be understated. It will be a massive confidence boost for the Manchester City players and staff.
Neither team has any fresh injury worries to concern themselves with but Manchester City do have another problem. Mario Balotelli is suspended for th next four matches and assuming that Manchester City will not appeal the decision at the last moment, which would then lead to the suspension being delayed until a further hearing, it means the Italian striker is going to miss this second leg tie. That does not leave Manchester City short of strikers in the immediate sense. They can still start with Sergio Aguero playing behind Edin Dzeko and so still use their favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. What Mario Balotelli’s suspension does mean is that the team will be without a senior alternative striker on the substitutes bench. The 4th striker in the squad is Carlos Tevez but the Argentine is suspended, since he refused to come on as a substitute at the Allianz Arena in Munich during the Champions League group clash against the Germans Bayern Munich. If Manchester City are chasing the game in the latter stages of the tie, seeking a goal, the lack of an attacking alternative might be important.
Liverpool have concerns of their own. The team are in pretty dreadful form. They just left the Reebok Stadium with Kenny Dalglish’s harsh words ringing in their ear. The team lost 3-1 and were thoroughly outplayed by a mediocre, yet resurgent, Bolton Wanderers team. Kenny Dalglish accused his players of disrespecting the Liverpool shirt by refusing to respect their opponents. Kenny Dalglish suggested his players were thinking too far ahead and not focusing on the match in hand. Kenny Dalglish was basically saying that Liverpool’s players were thinking about the Carling Cup semi final against Manchester City and not the Premiership game at Bolton.
The match is up for grabs and both teams will fancy their chances. What’s mroe is that both teams will now think that if they win this match then they have a very good chance of winning the trophy oturight as the winner of this tie is set to face Cardiff City in the Carling up final. Both teams will be considered favourites against Cardiff City.