Carling Cup round-up – Premier League sides dominate third round

There might not have been any major shocks or giant-killings but this week’s Carling Cup results certainly dispelled the myth that top-flight clubs no longer value the competition, as no fewer than 13 Premier League sides progressed to the last 16. As is customary nowadays, many managers seized the opportunity to give a run-out to players lacking in first team match practice, most notably Chelsea’s long-term absentee Joe Cole and big summer signing Yuri Zhirkov. However, in a sign of the widening gulf in English football, only Burnley crashed out at the hands of lower league opposition, the second Premier League side to do so this year following Wigan’s 4-1 defeat away to Blackpool in the previous round.

In arguably the most anticipated tie of the round, a smart finish from David Ngog was enough to secure victory for an under-strength and slightly disjointed Liverpool against a well organised and dogged Leeds. Cheered on by a vociferous, capacity crowd at Elland Road, the home side should have gone ahead on a number of occasions, with Jermaine Beckford missing a couple of good chances and critically being adjudged to be offside when Lubomir Michalik’s header should arguably have been allowed.

A typically young Arsenal also struggled to break down Championship high-flyers West Brom at the Emirates on Tuesday, despite the Baggies being reduced to 10 men before half time. The main talking point of the first half saw ex-Arsenal trainee Jerome Thomas sent off for petulantly pushing Jack Wilshire after a challenge between them and an alleged verbal exchange. Whether or not the Gunner’s starlet overreacted is up for debate, but another assured performed from the youngster will certainly enhance his growing reputation. Another player who aided his push for first team football was Carlos Vela who was deployed from the bench with devastating effect. He looked a class above everyone else on the pitch and had a hand in the opening goal before scoring the second himself.

There may finally have been some smiles from Portsmouth fans on the long, 350-mile road home from Carlisle after their team recorded their first victory of the season. Ian Harte gave the League One side an early lead from the penalty spot, however a goal from debutant Aruna Dindane sparked a fight-back and Pompey eventually ran out 3-1 winners. The spirited performance may afford Paul Hart some breathing space but the same cannot be said for Hull’s Phil Brown who watched his Tigers crumble 4-0 at home to an Everton side who seem to have found their form. Gone are the striking problems of last season with Yakubu grabbing a goal 11 minutes into his first start for almost 10 months.

Free-scoring Tottenham similarly have no lack of attacking options and three strikers were on the score sheet in their 5-1 demolition of Preston, with the superb Peter Crouch bagging a hat-trick. Gabriel Agbonlahor perhaps outdid Crouch in the cheekiest goal of the round stakes with his back-heel flick securing a 1-0 win for Villa over Cardiff, whilst a single goal was also enough to send Blackburn, Chelsea and Man United through, against Nottingham Forest, QPR and Wolves respectively. Two of the four all Premier League affairs required extra time with Bolton and Man City eventually progressing at the expense of West Ham and Fulham respectively.

The draw for the next round takes place this Saturday at 12.15 and there is sure to be some mouth-watering fixtures in what will look more like a normal Premier League fixture list than that of the last 16 of a cup competition.

Full Results

Tuesday September 22, 2009
Arsenal 2-0 West Brom
Barnsley 3-2 Burnley
Bolton 3-1 West Ham (AET)
Carlisle 1-3 Portsmouth
Leeds 0-1 Liverpool
Notts Forest 0-1 Blackburn
Peterborough 2-0 Newcastle
Scunthorpe 2-0 Port Vale (AET)
Stoke 4-3 Blackpool
Sunderland 2-0 Birmingham

Wednesday September 23, 2009
Aston Villa 1-0 Cardiff
Chelsea 1-0 QPR
Hull City 0-4 Everton
Man City 2-1 Fulham (AET)
Man United 1-0 Wolves
Preston 1-5 Tottenham

Carling Cup 2009/10

Round 1 – August 11, 12
Round 2 – August 24, 25, 26
Round 3 – September 22, 23

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