Liverpool vs Manchester City | Carling Cup Semi-Final, Second-Leg Preview, January 25th 2012
Liverpool returns home to Anfield on Jan. 25 for the second-leg of their Carling Cup semi-final against Manchester City with a 1-0 lead. Steven Gerrard gave the Merseyside club the win in the first game with a penalty-kick goal.
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish blasted his team of underachievers on the weekend when they were embarrassed 3-1 at Bolton and that could either light a fire under them or turn them against the Scot. Dalglish basically told the squad that anybody who doesn’t live up to their potential could end up being shipped out of Anfield in the future. Dalglish usually coddles his players, so this was a bit of a surprise to some fans.
Dalglish said there’s no place for the players to hide and they have to perform better against City in the cup game or there’s no way they’ll be heading to Wembley for the final on Feb. 26th. Liverpool also has to face City’s neighbours Manchester United in a fourth-round FA Cup game on Saturday. However, Dalglish then backtracked and came up with the lame excuse that his players were focused on the pair of cup games against Manchester rivals and that’s why they lost to Bolton.
If Liverpool manages to beat City, they’ll reach their first domestic cup final since winning the FA Cup six years ago. The last time they played at Wembley was in 1996 because the stadium was closed down as it was being rebuilt in 2006 and the final was played at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
Even though Liverpool has a slight advantage heading into the game it’s going to be a tough task to beat City, who was 3-2 winners over Spurs in the league on Sunday. City, who sit on top of the English Premier League table, have averaged three goals a game in league play this year, but have struggled in cup games. Manchester United knocked them out of the FA Cup recently and they lost to Liverpool in this competition shortly after. Liverpool will be without striker Luis Suarez who’s still out with a suspension. However, midfielder Jay Spearing may be back from his hamstring problem.
Manchester City could be without striker Mario Balotelli who tried to stomp on the head of Scott Parker during the win over Spurs on Sunday. Balotelli could be suspended for four games if City doesn’t appeal. However, an appeal is unlikely and Balotelli should consider himself lucky to get off with just a four-game suspension. The club will definitely be without defender Vincent Kompany, who’s also sitting out his own four-game ban. In addition, City will also be without defender Kolo Toure and his midfield brother Yaya Toure who are both playing in the African Cup of Nations event.
Liverpool v Man City Predictions and Odds
This is a hard game to predict. If Liverpool plays the way they did against Bolton they’re definitely going to lose this one, but if they play the same way they did in the first leg they should win it. But, look for them to have a mediocre game which could end in a 90-minute draw, still allowing them to go to Wembley.
Sportsbook William Hill has the current odds of a Liverpool win at 7/4 with a Manchester City victory at 9/5 and a draw at 19/10. Bet through the banner up top to get free bets.