Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Carling Cup Quarterfinals

We were down to the final eight teams in the Carling Cup; the "Elite" or "Great" eight if you're a fan of college basketball and the NCAA Tournament, the boring last eight if you're not, but six days ago, Everton sent West Ham out of the competition with a 2-1 victory at Upton Park. Three more quarterfinals remain to be played with two of them taking place today and the other to kickoff tomorrow.

For your viewing pleasure today we have Blackburn-Arsenal at 2:00 PM ET, live on Setanta. Arsenal are coming off their 1-0 victory over Chelsea on Sunday and with the short turnaround, combined with Arsene Wenger's preference to play his younger, reserve lineup in these cup matches, you'd have to fancy Blackburn getting the win today at home. Blackburn played miserably in defeat at Wigan on Saturday; Roque Santa Cruz bagged a hat trick but Rovers conceded five goals and lost 5-3. They are still alive in the FA Cup as well, and I would expect manager Mark Hughes to go after the silverware in these cup competitions. Blackburn gets it done today in extra time, 3-2

Manchester City host Tottenham today although that game won't be televised live here in the US. Tottenham beat City at White Hart Lane 2-1 on December 9th but this game will be at City of Manchester Stadium, where the home team has won 10 consecutive fixtures. Spurs are coming off a huge 1-0 win at Portsmouth on Saturday and they've shown signs of turning it around under new manager Juande Ramos. City's 4-2 victory over Bolton upped their home record to 9-0-0 in the Premier League and thrust them back into the race for the the last Champions League spot. Could be goals galore today at Eastlands, and I'll go with the home team here: City-3, Spurs-2

The last quarterfinal will be played tomorrow and is easily the tie of the round. Chelsea will welcome Liverpool to Stamford Bridge as both teams will try to rebound from 1-0 losses to their bitter rivals on Sunday (Chelsea to Arsenal, Liverpool to Manchester United). Both teams will have a say in who wins the Premier League this season although neither will actually win it, so I would expect two relatively full-strength sides as whoever wins this game will be the favorites to win the whole competition and the silverware that comes with it. Chelsea may have a record home unbeaten streak in the league, but they've been pretty shaky at Stamford Bridge in cup and Champions League competition. Liverpool will escape London with a hard-fought 1-0 victory.

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