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An intriguing match in the Carling Cup between Arsenal and Man City could ultimately be decided by the players managers choose to rest.
Last season Arsene Wenger guided his team to the final of the competition, only to lose to Birmingham City. As such another season passed by without any silverware, so the Gunners manager is likely to field a full strength side in the hope of bringing the wait for a trophy to an end. The home side can be backed at best odds of 2/1 (Bwin – £25 free bets), which appears good value despite failing to beat Fulham at the Emirates.
Roberto Mancini, as always, has plenty of options in a City squad brimming with quality. With Sergio Aguero starting against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday the likelihood is Edin Dzeko will start up top with Mario Balotelli. At a best price of 7/5 (Paddy Power – £100 free betting) for City to get the win, even if some first-teamers are rested the visitors will be a good match for the strongest team Arsenal could possibly field.
As is so often the way at the Emirates, backing both teams to score can prove very profitable. Man City haven’t kept as many clean sheets as one might have expected this season, making the odds of 4/7 (Coral) look worth taking. Following from this we expect plenty of goals, especially if Robin van Persie starts, so consider backing over 2.5 goals at 13/17 (188bet) and if you fancy going for the higher price try over 3.5 at 7/4 (bet365).
The last two league matches between the sides have ended up as dour 0-0 draws. On each occasion, however, Mancini had set his team up to negate the attacking threats Arsenal offered. This season, after some key additions to his squad, Mancini has thrown caution to the wind, so we expect an open game that could well go either way. As such, the draw might be the bet to take at best odds of 12/5 (Boylesports), taking the game to extra time. Backing the home side to win on penalties could also be worth a look at 11/1 (William Hill).