Roberto Mancini in need of Kompany for Carling Cup date!
Manchester City v Liverpool
Carling Cup semi-final, first leg
Wednesday 19:45 - live on BBC One
Match Odds: Manchester City 19/20 Draw 23/10 Liverpool 3/1
Roberto Mancini goes into Wednesday night's first leg Carling Cup tie with, somewhat unbelievable, squad depth problems. The Italian manager has come out and expressed his concerns over his injury list which includes players like, David Silva, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli as well as those unavailable for selection such as the Toure brothers (African Cup of Nations), Vincent Kompany (suspension) and of course who could forget Carlos Tevez.
Kenny Dalglish on the other hand, with the exception of the suspended Luis Suarez, has much different obstacles ahead of the cup tie at the Etihad. Anfield continues to be covered with a cloud of controversy. Friday's FA Cup victory over Oldham was marred by a fan from the Kop hurling racist abuse towards Tom Adeyemi whilst Stuart Downing and the mother of his child were arrested on the weekend on the suspicion of assault. Nevertheless Kenny will be keen to brush the controversy under the carpet for the meantime and take advantage of a Manchester City side that is not at full strength.
This match comes only eight days after Liverpool were outclassed 3-0 at City's stadium in a Premier League clash. Liverpool will be after revenge and should be the fresher of the two sides seeing as they rested numerous first team players against Oldham and City's stars had to turn out as little as three days earlier on Sunday in the 3-2, 10-man defeat to arch rivals United.
Liverpool fans will be upbeat about their chances over two-legs, if the Reds can stay in contention against a weakened City side on Wednesday night then they should be able to create a tremendous atmosphere in the second leg in a fortnight's time. Liverpool are famous for their performances in cup competitions and nowhere is more intimidating than Anfield on a Cup night. Liverpool have competed in ten League Cup finals winning seven of those and they will fancy their chances against either Championship side if they can get past what is currently the best team in English football.
Roberto Mancini will have his own motives to succeed in this game, out of the Champions League and the FA Cup, a faltering performance in the Carling Cup semi-finals could bring real pressure on the former Inter Milan manager. One thing that his side has continued to produce is goals, and if they can repeat the result eight days ago and win by three or more goals then William Hill has made a Match Winner price enhancement from 15/2 to a massive 10/1. Although doubts for the game, if Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli and David Silva get time on the pitch this 10/1 offer is a must. Added to that Hills offer 7/2 that they score five or more goals over the course of the two semi final ties and 8/1 that five or more different players score.
Players to watch for Liverpool have to be club captain Steven Gerard and the club's player of the month Craig Bellamy. Stevie G has already showed glimpses of the creativity and drive that Liverpool FC have been missing of late and you can back him to grab the first goal at 10/1 and to be an anytime scorer at 7/2. Bellamy on the other-hand has really impressed since his move from City, he is 8/1 for the first goal and an 11/4 chance to score anytime. Pressure will still be on the shoulders of Andy Carroll, but with Kompany missing and stand-in Stefan Savic having picked up a rather nasty facial injury, I fully expect him to cause problems aerially for Mancini's side.
As for City Gareth Barry has an almighty task to fill the shoes of the missing Yaya Toure, and with his absence I wouldn't expect City's full-backs to be as adventurous as we have become accustomed to. Sergio Aguero has been in fantastic form of late, however he put in an extraordinary amount of miles against Manchester United and may not be that fresh on Wednesday night. Samir Nasri and Adam Johnson are both 8/1 first goalscorer and 11/4 anytime, and they could be the flare players that are let loose by Mancini in hope of scoring at the Etihad.
Liverpool may not get a better chance of keeping things tight against Manchester City and under 1.5 goals could be value at 9/4. Liverpool are 11/4 to keep a clean sheet, and if they achieve that expect them to qualify at 5/4 and win the Cup at Wembley at odds of 6/4.