Can Wenger's kids stop the City express?
Arsenal v Manchester City - Tuesday 20:00 - live on Sky Sports 2
If you were to ask monsieur Wenger or signor Mancini to list their priorities this season, winning the Carling Cup would probably not feature in the top five of either manager's main objectives. The irony though for Arsene Wenger is that this competition is probably his best chance of lifting a trophy for the first time since 2005. That will not stop the Frenchman from reverting to his usual policy of fielding promising youngsters in the cup and resting the likes of Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby.
For Roberto Mancini the task is a little simpler. He has world class internationals at his disposal right throughout his huge City squad and will likely call on the likes of Kolo Toure, Stefan Savic, Adam Johnson and Owen Hargreaves.
The match betting for this game sees the visitors installed as 13/10 favourites compared to the 2/1 offered for a home win. If City are to justify this favouritism they must do so by overcoming a thirty-six year shadow that has haunted them on every trip to London to face Arsenal. Twenty eight matches have come and gone without a City win at either Highbury or the Emirates and the Citizens will hope that a victory against the Gunners will not only remove that hoodoo but also set them on the way to winning the League Cup, just as they did in 1976, the last time they won at Arsenal.
Both teams come into this match on the back of 1-1 draws. Arsenal were left frustrated that they could only take a point against Fulham but also a little relieved after being a goal down with only a quarter of the game left. City on the other hand were undone by a Joleon Lescott own goal at Anfield, the former Everton man deflecting a Charlie Adam drive past the despairing Joe Hart to level matters after Vincent Kompany had given the Blues the lead. A draw in 90 minutes is priced at 23/10 while a 1-1 correct score draw can be backed at 13/2.
Arsenal and City do have previous in the competition. Only two seasons ago the Gunners were eliminated in the fifth round after a 3-0 defeat at the City of Manchester stadium. A 3-0 win for Mancini's men on this occasion would pay out at 22/1, and with what could be an experimental Arsenal defence, it is definitely worth considering for a small flutter.
The William Hill Match Winner for this quarter-final clash is for the match to be decided by a penalty shoot out. Enhanced to 6/1 from 5s could we see a close game decided by the lottery that is penalties?
If Robin Van Persie does play he has to be a great shout to open the scoring at 6/1 but it's more likely that Marouane Chamakh will lead the line for the Gunners. The Moroccan international has been linked with a January move away from the Emirates and a goal, priced at 8/1 first goal 11/4 anytime, will surely help his chances of securing a decent transfer.
Only Roberto Mancini knows who will start up front for his team but with such a plethora of attacking options it is sure to be a strong one. Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero are both 9/2 to break the deadlock while Samir Nasri at 9/1 is an interesting selection. The French midfielder only left Arsenal in August and will be facing his former employers for the first time. Will he do an Adebayor and score against the Gunners?
My tips for this game are as follows:
Over 3.5 goals @ 7/4
Man City to be leading at half time @ 9/5