Carling Cup: Arsenal and the rest of the draw considered

City drew Arsenal at home in the quarter finals of the Carling Cup, which will be played on the week beginning 30 November. The focus will undoubtedly be on Emmanuel Adebayor, but Mark Hughes will be more concerned with taking the club to our first major semi-final since 1981.

The full draw is:

Blackburn v Chelsea
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur
Portsmouth v Aston Villa
Manchester City v Arsenal

The first thing we would have wanted was a home draw. The second thing would have been either of the two teams in the bottom half of the table. We got the first part and should fancy our chances against a below full-strength Arsenal. Arsene Wenger is unwavering in his commitment to field younger players, regardless of the opposition, though it’s worth noting the team against Liverpool on Wednesday wasn’t all youngsters.

Arsenal team in the last round:

Fabianski, Senderos, Silvestre, Gibbs, Eastmond, Gilbert, Nasri, Ramsey, Merida, Eduardo, Bendtner.

Only Eastmond, Gilbert and Merida have yet to taste regular first team action. The centre-back pairing of Senderos and Silvestre have plenty of experience, while Eduardo and Bendtner up front could easily be seen in the first team.

City warm up for this game with a home fixture against Hull on the Saturday, while Arsenal have the much tougher visitors of Chelsea on Sunday at 4pm. If Sky pick the United v Spurs tie to show live on the Wednesday, then our game would probably be on the Tuesday. With such a scenario, it’s hard to see Wenger making the likes of Fabregas, Gallas, Vermaelen, Van Persie, Arshavin, etc. play two games in three days.

This doesn’t mean Arsenal won’t want to win, particularly after their last visit to Eastlands. Revenge will be very much on their minds, and journalists are no doubt already trying to get quotes from Adebayor for his ‘reaction to the draw’.

Personally, I think it would be preferable if he took a vow of silence regarding all things Arsenal, and it will be a test of Hughes’ man-management skills to try and keep the Togolese out of controversy. Adebayor needs to realise that whatever he says will simply be used by the press to further wind up Arsenal fans.

Elsewhere in the draw, both Portsmouth and Blackburn are at home, making the ties for Chelsea and Villa slightly trickier. Either Pompey or Rovers would make welcome opponents for a semi-final. A full strength Tottenham will fancy their chances against a weakened United, even at Old Trafford.

One thing  becoming apparent is that if we are set to become one of the very top teams, then playing other top teams is something we will do more regularly. Games against the likes of Arsenal and United will become regular occurrences as we progress in domestic cup competitions, and ultimately the Champions League.

Preview: Birmingham City v Manchester City
Verdict: Birmingham City 0 Manchester City 0

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