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Michael Taylor 26th Jan 2010 - 22:15

In-form Tevez no match for rampant Rooney

Carlos Tevez's deadly double handed Manchester City a much needed lead heading into their Carling Cup semi-final second leg but, with Wayne Rooney on top form, Manchester United could still make short work of their billionaire rivals.

Despite leaving for their cross city enemies, Tevez had remained a fan favourite amongst the Old Trafford faithful; it's unlikely to have stayed that way after the unfortunate scenes of last week though.

The little Argentine showed just what Sir Alex Ferguson had missed out on, popping up twice to snatch the advantage away from the Red Devils and keep the tie finely in the balance heading into the second leg.

It was a glorious moment for the Man Utd reject, the Eastlands crowd and the blue half of Manchester but Tevez's reputation in the red half may have been damaged irreparably after his altercation with everybody's favourite right back Gary Neville.

The Citizens just need to pray their star man doesn't get affected in the hostile atmosphere although Roberto Mancini may have a few other worries, mainly the unbelievable play of Rooney.

Any doubts about Rooney's ability to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo have quickly been forgotten over the past few months with the Liverpudlian hinting he may he even be better than his former team-mate.

His four goal haul against Hull this weekend showed he has the goals to back-up his talent while his record total even pushed him to the head of the race for the UEFA Golden Boot.

Not bad for a man who has generally been considered a provider rather than a finisher and even better for Fabio Capello's England in the run-up to the World Cup.

United's long-term goal needs to be providing Rooney with a more support but, in the meantime, Fergie will be more than happy if Rooney fires them to a vital win here.

You have to believe he's up to the task as well.

With Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher winning the ball in midfield and Antonio Valencia giving a natural wide option, Rooney can thrive in the gap between City's defence and midfield.

Nigel De Jong will be handed the task of keeping the lid on United's big threat but even with a player of the Dutchman's calibre, he'll likely find himself clutching at straws on at least a few occasions on Wednesday.

Kolo Toure won't be ready to return yet after enduring a painful exit from the Africa Nations Cup while Vincent Kompany needs to show his best yet if he's to guide both himself and either Nedum Onuoha or Dedryck Boyata to a clean sheet.

I don't fancy it though because, simply put, in this mood there is no stopping Sir Alex Ferguson and United progressing to yet another domestic cup final.

Tevez may still be a decent bet to give United some grief by scoring during the game (priced at 6/4), but it seems far less likely he'll get the last laugh.

With all of their experience and class, beating Man Utd at Old Trafford remains a formidable task even with the board turmoil and mainstays such as Rio Ferdinand struggling for fitness, and I'm not sure City have enough know-how at this point to get one over on their neighbours.

Ferguson's men can be backed at 8/13 to win the leg over ninety minutes, however I prefer them making sure of progression to Wembley in the allotted time - the 13/8 about them overcoming a -1 goal handicap is my favourite bet.

As for Rooney, he's a modest Evens to score during the game but, for punters preferring bigger goalscorer prices, the one of most interest could be the 13/2 about him scoring two or more - on this form you'd be mad to bet against him.



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