The theme in this season’s Carling Cup semifinals is Premier League vs Championship, haves vs havenots (wrt Derby’s owners, they’re not going to play in the Premier League next season or have a lush new 60k seater in 3 years, are they?) and as the spinners love to spin it (admittedly so do we), David v Goliath.
It helps that one of the underdogs has already beaten 3 Premier League sides, all teams currently above their opponents tonight at White Hart Lane. Tottenham may be reigning champions and pound for million pound better than Burnley, but with the ‘revival’ nonsense done away with they are unlikely to be tougher opponents than Arsenal or Chelsea.
On the other hand, it’s hard to see Burnley do a Turkey (in results if not the manner they were achieved) for longer than the pseudo-Europeans themselves. While the second leg is at home, playing it out over two legs gives Tottenham 90 more minutes to recover from their mistakes, or 90 minutes to protect their advantage. Either way, that could be 90 minutes too much.
At Pride Park the season hinges on the barest of threads and while Derby go into Wednesday’s game as guaranteed to lose (the tie if not the leg), it’s much more lopsided than the stats would suggest. Derby struggled to beat non-league Forest Green on Saturday and while caretaker manager Hutchings may ring in a few changes, the step up in class, even considering that Manchester United will play a weakened side to give squad and younger players more time and experience while resting their stars, is too great for Derby.
Over 90 minutes – maybe they could sneak through a late goal. Over two legs? I have a better chance of sleeping with Gemma Atkinson this year. Hmmm…that almost makes me want United to lose.
Tottenham v Burnley – 1st leg: Tottenham
Derby County v Manchester United – 1st leg: Manchester United