Wednesday’s Newspapers Review: Carling Cup Special

Tonight it’s Chelsea vs Liverpool in the final Carling Cup quarter-final. Liverpool have only won once at Stamford Bridge since 1989. Liverpool have lost their last two domestic matches. Liverpool will be without captain Steven Gerrard tonight, who is suffering from a stomach bug. Last night’s two Carling Cup games saw two London clubs come out victorious against two North West teams. The signs aren’t looking good. Here’s what this morning’s papers are on about’¦

First thing’s first; last night’s Carling Cup results. The Guardian reports on Arsenal 3-2 Blackburn (aet):

Wembley beckons for the Arsenal young guard and it will not faze them if they get there. On the evidence of an exhilarating tie here last night, nothing will.

And Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-0 victory at the City of Manchester Stadium:

Juande Ramos’s renascent team, playing with a spirit of togetherness that was conspicuous by its absence earlier in the season, confirmed their place in the last four thanks to Jermain Defoe’s early goal and a breakaway second from Steed Malbranque, in the process blowing a gaping hole in City’s previously immaculate home record. That, however, tells only a fraction of the story from an entertaining, often contentious evening in which Tottenham had to play all except the opening 21 minutes with 10 men after their makeshift centre-back, Didier Zokora, was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Elano.

Looking ahead to tonight, the Daily Star suggests Benitez will rest Fernando Torres and Peper Reina for tonight’s clash, with Saturday’s Premier League match against Porsmouth in mind.

Torres will travel to London, but his manager will leave him on the subs bench.

“The key is to find the balance between the squad and the big names,” said Benitez, who is set to include French goalkeeper Charles Itandje and rest Pepe Reina.

The Independent looks ahead to tonight’s game with writer Ken Guant looking at Benitez’s belief that the team can bounce back from Sunday’s disappointing defeat at home to Manchester United.

Benitez claims his team have enough about them to banish the memory of losing to Manchester United and Reading, following a long unbeaten run. He insists that confidence has not been damaged despite that home defeat by Sir Alex Ferguson’s side at the weekend.
“If you analyse Chelsea‘s home form you can see they haven’t lost for a long time. So it’s normal not to get too many good results there. They are really good in front of their own fans but we will try to change the situation,” Benitez said.

Today’s Daily Telegraph reports that Jamie Carragher will snub any plea to return to international football from new England boss Fabio Capello.

Asked if Capello travelling to the North-West and knocking on his door would influence matters, Carragher responded: “I don’t think so.”

Carragher had grown frustrated at being shifted around England’s back-line by Sven-Goran Eriksson, who used him at left-back and also as a holding midfielder. Capello, who sees his England spine involving John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney, wanted to add Carragher to his central-defensive options.

And finally, the Daily Telegraph notes two interesting points, looking at the recent dominance of the ‘big four’ in cup competitons:

  • Despite the fact the Big Four are supposed to value the domestic cup competitions less in the modern era the truth is that 16 of the 20 titles in the past 10 years have gone to Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool or Man Utd.
  • In the last five seasons only Boro in the 2004 League Cup final have stopped a Big Four clean sweep.