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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Can Arsenal end their trophy woe by lifting the Carling Cup?

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Arsenal lost the Carling Cup final to Birmingham City last season in the dying moments of the match and the Gunners have failed to erase it from their memories. They have made their worst start to a league seasons in decades and many people have already written off their chances of winning the Premier League title, but can Wenger’s men end their trophy drought by lifting the Carling Cup?

The draw for the fourth round of the competition has paired them with struggling Bolton Wanderers, who they beat 3-0 on Saturday. The performance was not as impressive as the scoreline makes out but it’s certainly a step in the right direction for the Gunners.

Arsenal have only won the League Cup twice in their history and it’s the only domestic trophy that has evaded Arsene Wenger. If you believe Arsenal can end their six-year wait without a trophy and complete the set for Wenger then get down to Blue Square who are offering odds of 8/1.

If you think the Wanderers can add to Arsenal’s misery and win the tournament for the first time then Victor Chandler is the bookie for you with odds of 40/1.

Aldershot landed the dream tie of the round. Most Premier League sides are dreading facing the champions Manchester United this season but they were the team the League Two outfit were praying for.

Dean Holdsworth’s men got their wish and the former Bolton and Wimbledon striker will be hoping his side put in a better shift than Leeds did in the last round. Facing the champions is just reward for The Shots, who have seen off West Ham United and Rochdale during this campaign. However, their chances of now winning the tournament seem remote as nobody has managed to stop United so far, but Stan James are still offering odds of 250/1 for The Shots to win the cup. That’s pure madness, especially as Bet365 are 1000/1.

In contrast, Manchester United have drifted in from 6/1 to 4/1 at bwin following the draw. And with a number of all-Premier League clashes being made their path to Wembley could be made all the more simpler.

Manchester City, who beat last season’s winners Birmingham City in the last round, face another team from the Midlands, this time in the shape of Wolverhampton Wanderers. Roberto Mancini wants to win every piece of silverware available to him this season, but Wolves will be no pushovers. They have gone goal crazy in this competition this season, hitting Northampton Town for four and Millwall for five, but this will be their first real test in the cup.

City, who will meet Wolves in the League Cup for the first time since 1987, are 9/2 at Bet365 while you can get odds of 40/1 at Victor Chandler for Wolves to win the League Cup for the third time.

Chelsea, who won the tournament in 1998 and 2007, will have to do it the hard way if they are to complete their hat-trick by playing Everton at Goodison Park. Games between these two are always entertaining affairs and if you think Andre Villas-Boas’ men will come through this game unscathed, and go on to win at Wembley, get yourself down to Stan James or Victor Chandler where both bookies will offer odds of 7/1. If you think Everton can knock Chelsea out of the cup, as they did last season on penalties in the FA Cup, Bet365 is the place for you. They have Everton at 20/1.

Liverpool, who overcame Championship high fliers Brighton, return to the Britannia to face Stoke City, who needed penalties to see off Spurs. The Reds have won this tournament more times than any other club, seven, but not too many sides leave the Brit victorious, as King Kenny is only too aware. If you think the King can deliver the first piece of silverware of the season then Victor Chandler is offering odds of 7/1. The Potters meanwhile, who were at Wembley in May in the FA Cup, are 22/1 at Stan James.

The final all-Premier League clash will be at Ewood Park between Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United. The two sides have only met in this competition once before. That was back in November 1998 when Blackburn knocked the Mags out on penalties. Sky Bet are offering odds of 33/1 on Blackburn winning their second League Cup, while Bet365 have Newcastle United at 28/1.

Cardiff City take on Burnley while Crystal Palace host Southampton to ensure there will be two Championship sides in the last eight. The Bluebirds are 66/1 at Stan James to win the cup, Burnley are 100/1 at 188Bet, Crystal Palace are 150/1 at 188Bet while the Saints are 66/1 at Bet365.

Here are the latest odds:

Manchester United 4/1

Manchester City 9/2

Liverpool 7/1

Chelsea 7/1

Arsenal 8/1

Everton 20/1

Stoke 22/1

Newcastle 28/1

Blackburn 33/1

Bolton 40/1

Wolves 40/1

Southampton 66/1

Cardiff 66/1

Burnley 100/1

Crystal Palace 150/1

Aldershot 1000/1

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Colin Illingworth



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