Carling Cup Round 3: Arsenal dump Newcastle, Manchester United crash out, Chelsea, Liverpool and Blackburn power through

A roundup of the midweek Carling Cup Round 3 matches:

Tuesday 25 September 2007

Arsenal 2 Newcastle 0
I didn’t watch the match, instead opting to tune in on an audio stream but it sounded darn good from an Arsenal perspective. Newcastle fielded a pretty full strength side and I admit, I was worried. Having reached the final last season, I saw where the optimism came from but I didn’t think it all too wise to favour us against Newcastle, who would be going for the Carling Cup all guns blazing. As expected, our line up was a mix of back up members of the first team and younger players we don’t get to see too often – the likes of Eduardo, Diarra, Fabianski, Traore, Denilson, Walcott and Bendtner playing a part. The second half saw us fail to find the net time and time again as we increased the pressure. It seemed at one point that this was going to be another case of lacking that edge in front of goal, that was until two late goals were fired past Newcastle, one from Bendtner and the other a screamer I’m told from Denilson. That’s brilliant news and just demonstrates the depth we have at Arsenal in the squad, a lack of depth being a criticism constantly thrown at us.

Blackpool 2 Southend 1 (aet)
A Blackpool side who find themselves ninth place in the Championship rung six changes in preparation of facing league one outfit Southend. Having seen many an error in the goalkeeping department of late (and I know how they must feel on this one, what with being able to boast we have Jens Lehmann in our squad) Rhys Evans was given a chance between the sticks, a decision that quickly went the way of Southend for just six minutes in he was at fault to give away a penalty, which Southend’s Matt Harrold easily converted. Finally, after several spurned chances, Blackpool got their equalizer in the 80th minute by way of Scott Vernon, taking the match into extra time. It then looked set to go to penalties until a late goal, scoring late goals being a recent habit of Blackpool’s (the Arsenal comparisons continue,) was scored by experienced defender, Jackson.

Burnley 0-1 Portsmouth
Portsmouth had most of the chances, many of which fell to Nugent, but it wasn’t until the 69th minute of the game that the 0-0 deadlock was broken, Nugent latching onto a ball from Mendes and firing home into the far corner of the net. The goal was not without its controversy, for it was felt by Burnley that Nugent had used his arm to bring the ball under control but it was legitimately given by the referee and so Burnley’s complaints were to no avail.

Luton 3-1 Charlton (aet)
Alan Padrew had always said he wasn’t too fussed about the Carling Cup and that promotion was the only priority. He made ten changes to the team that beat Leicester in their last league fixture. Even so, Charlton took the lead inside only four minutes, Dean Sinclair the man to hit the mark, before Luton staged their slow comeback. It was Steve Robinson who forced extra time for Luton before they finished the job with another two strikes – courtesy of Mathew Spring and Drew Talbot.

Manchester City 1-0 Norwich
More late goals, in this instance Georgios Samaras being the one to score, and in the 89th minute too. In what I’m told was a less than enthralling encounter, the £6M signing, who Sven attempted to off load to Middlesbrough in the summer, will have done wonders for his confidence with that strike. He after all hasn’t scored since January for City and even though he hasn’t been playing much, that kind of drought is bound to affect your confidence.

Reading 2-4 Liverpool
Fernando Torres hadn’t been played in Liverpool’s past two Premier League encounters, with thanks to Rafa’s rotation policy, both of those encounters ending in frustrating draws. Torres perhaps proved against Reading that he should’ve played in those games, as he scored his first hat trick for Liverpool to beat Reading in a thrilling 4-2 result.

Sheffield Utd 5-0 Morecambe

Sheffield United brushed past their opponents with seeming ease, two a piece netted by Luton Shelton and Billy Sharp while Lee Hendrie scored the other. Not all’s been going right of late for Sheffield Utd, what with a number of players having been shown the door in the Summer but a 5-0 win should help them to regain some confidence, no matter whom the opposition.

West Brom 2-4 Cardiff
In an entertaining first half, at least where Cardiff were concerned, the away side were 4-0 ahead with only thirty minutes gone, with much thanks to Robbie Fowler, Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink and Trevor Sinclair, its aging ex Premier League stars. West Brom fought back but their two efforts were only consolation goals. West Brom’s first defeat at home this season.

Wednesday 26 September 2007

Aston Villa 0-1 Leicester
Martin O’Neill endured defeat by a former club, Leicester, in another tie decided by the single goal, this one put away by Matt Fryatt. Villa made changes to the side that beat Manchester City at the weekend but still thought they could put one over on a side lying 21st in the Championship. They could not it transpired and as a result have been sent home early, any League Cup ambitions they harboured now burnt to ashes.

Hull City 0-4 Chelsea
It’s hard to criticize Chelsea for a 4-0 victory and at the same time hard to praise them. They met expectation is a better way of putting it. The game was memorable for both Scott Sinclair and Avram Grant – Sinclair nicking his first senior goal and Grant his first win at the club. The rest of the score sheet was made up by a Kalou double and a Steve Sidwell finish. The bad news for Chelsea is that Wright-Phillips was taken off with a knee injury, which doesn’t sound hugely serious, if it’s any consolation.

Sheffield Wednesday 0-3 Everton
James McFadden and Yakubu made up the scorers here to give Everton a comfortable pass into the next round. From the sounds of things, Everton were never at threat and were always expected to win the game, which they did so.

West Ham 1-0 Plymouth
Dean Ashton, who recently has highlighted himself as an England option in light of injuries to both Michael Owen and Emile Heskey, is said to have scored a stunning winner late on, in the 2nd minute of injury time in fact, in another tie that was only in the dying minutes prevented from going onto extra time. More good news for The Hammers is that Scott Parker made his debut. He’s a good player and West Ham will benefit from his return.

Blackburn 3-0 Birmingham
David Bentley, Matt Derbyshire and Roque Santa Cruz got in among the scorehseet for Blackburn, against fellow Premier League competitors Birmingham. You get the impression that having made eleven changes from the side that held Liverpool to a draw at the weekend, Bruce had no plans of taking the cup seriously, preferring it would seem to concentrate on the Premier League campaign ahead.

Fulham 1-2 Bolton
In a game that was taken to extra time, Bolton finally forced the winner, much to the delight you would imagine of Bolton Boss Sammy Lee who’s struggled as of yet to fill the boots of his predecessor, Sam Allardyce.

Manchester United 0-2 Coventry
Now there’s a score I’ll bet you won’t see too often. Ferguson sent out a youthful Man Utd result and Coventry gladly repaid his faith with a 2-0 victory, to which no one should be all too bothered about. You Can’t consider it too much of a shock exit, it is after all the carling cup and Fergie was never going to take it too seriously.

Tottenham 2-0 Middlesbrough
Relegation battling Tottenham (oh how I love saying that!) managed to beat Middlesbrough though it’s unlikely to be enough to ease the pressure on Jol to perform should he fail to repeat the victory in future Premier League fixtures. Gareth Bale and Tom Huddlestone were the scorers.

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