Liverpool vs Man City – Match preview and prediction

The second finalist in the Carling Cup final will be decided tonight as Premier League leaders Manchester City look to overturn a 1-0 first leg defeat against Liverpool at Anfield in the second leg semi-final.

Roberto Mancini’s side were poor against the Reds in the first leg two weeks ago and could not break down the defensive formation Kenny Dalglish set up with his Liverpool side. City are without captain Vincent Kompany, who serves the final game of his four match ban, so Stefan Savic will deputise once again. Mario Balotelli was given a four game ban by the FA for his stamp on Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker on Sunday and will not be a part of the game at Anfield, which weakens the City squad further. The Premier League leaders have everything to do and have not won away at Liverpool since 2003, when two goals from ex-Red Nicolas Anelka gave City a league victory. Mancini’s side are on a high after their injury-time victory over fellow title challengers Tottenham on Sunday, so will have the confidence to get the win they need to go to Wembley.

The Reds will be looking to keep up their current form against City and were impressive in the league draw between the two sides at Anfield earlier this season. Kenny Dalglish was furious with his side’s lack of commitment in their 3-1 loss against Bolton on Saturday and will be looking for an immediate turnaround. Midfielder Jay Spearing is still an injury doubt, but could make the squad after two weeks out with a hamstring problem. Stewart Downing has been praised by Dalglish in the last week and could be recalled from the bench to start against City. Liverpool had Steven Gerrard’s penalty to thank for in the first leg and Dalglish’s defensive tactics at Eastlands will not be tolerated by the Anfield crowd.

City have the attacking talent to score at Anfield, which they have to do, but with Liverpool’s defensive record so far this season, the game will come down to whether the league leaders can get through the Reds. Liverpool could look to sit back on their lead, but the Anfield crowd will roar them back in to an attacking mode, which will make for an exciting game. Just like the Cardiff vs Crystal Palace semi-final on Tuesday, the second semi-final will go into extra time and City will nick the win at Anfield and march on to Wembley.

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