Thoughts: Cardiff – Liverpool (Carling Cup)

Venue: Wembley, London

Date: 26th Feb 2012
Kickoff: 1600 GMT (2030 hrs IST)
The first piece of silverware in the English League is up for grabs and Liverpool take on the surprise package Cardiff City. Liverpool will favor their chances to get their hands on their first trophy since 2006 and Cardiff will look to Birmingham City for inspiration that had beaten Arsenal in the final last year.
Cardiff City beat Oxford United in the first round and followed it up with a thrilling 5-3 win over Huddersfield Town.  They next won a 7-6 penalty shoot-out against Leicester City and knocked out Burnley in the 4th round. Cardiff’s first and only Premier League team was relegation fodder Blackburn Rovers whom they beat in the Quarter finals. They also had the luxury of seeing of a comparatively easier team in Crystal Palace for the semi finals, whom they saw off in their second penalty shoot-out. Cardiff have no doubt had the easier road till Wembley but few can deny that despite having weaker oppositions, teams still have to play well to last that long.
Liverpool on the other hand had a relatively tougher road to the finals. They beat Exeter City in the second round and then Brighton and Hove Albion in the next. But that was as easy as it got for them. After the initial lower division teams, Liverpool have played only Premier league opposition. They saw off Stoke City, then Chelsea and after that, League leaders Manchester City in the semi finals. Liverpool are currently 7th in the table with their chances of making it to the final Champions League spot slipping out of their hands. This is the best chance they have, to take something from this season and the players would be well aware of the expectations on their shoulders.
Team News:
Liverpool: Kenny Dalglish will definitely start with Luis Suarez up front. Daniel Agger is likely to return to the staring eleven after being rested against Brighton with Jamie Carragher making way for him. Lucas is still out injured and apart from him, Dalglish has a full squad to choose from.
Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique, Adam, Gerrard, Henderson, Bellamy, Suarez, Carroll
Cardiff City: Cardiff are still waiting for news on their captain Mark Hudson who has been struggling with a calf problem and midfielder Stephen McPhail who has missed Cardiff’s last four games as he looks to control his Sjogren’s Syndrome, which affects his immune system. Cardiff manger Malky Mackay will hand late fitness tests to both the players. Tom Heaton is expected to remain between the posts after recovering from his ankle injury.
Heaton, McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, Taylor, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Cowie, Conway, Mason, Miller.
Players to Watch out:
Luis Suarez: Suarez would pose the biggest threat for Cardiff and would be odds on favorite to score against a relatively weaker opposition. A match winning performance would help him exorcise his demons of being in the news for all the wrong reasons recently.
Peter Whittingham: Cardiff’s magician is the man most likely to create something special to beat Liverpool. His form has been as spectacular as we have come to expect, scoring goals and creating them on a regular basis. It will be a tough battle against Liverpool’s talented midfield but it is one he will relish.
PredictionOn paper it seems a case of David against Goliath and with Liverpool’s depth of talent they should have the trophy when the final whistle blows. That being said, the unpredictable nature of the cup and the atmosphere at Wembley is known for creating a few upsets. Despite all that, Liverpool should have their hands on the season’s first silverware winning 3-1
(For the original piece kindly go to the link )

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