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Five take-aways: Carling Cup quarterfinals

League Cup approaches thrilling climax

By | 1st December 2011

The Carling Cup quarterfinals were full of entertainment and although four teams saw their chances of going to Wembley brought to an end, the remaining four shall offer plenty more in the semis.

For now, here is a look at five lessons learned, in no particular order, from the quarterfinals:

1. Arsenal still have the talent

Despite being on the wrong side of a 1-0 result against Manchester City, the Gunners showed depth and resolve in a closely-fought match.

After slumping to a late heart-breaking defeat in the final of this competition last year, a quarter-final exit will not ease the pressure on Wenger to deliver a trophy.

But a brave performance against the league leaders does underline the Gunners’ quality, and given their recent unbeaten run in the league, it solidifies their status as a top-four club.

2. Money cannot (always) buy happiness

Manchester City have undoubtedly been on a different playing field in recent years with their unparalleled financial muscle, but the fact remains that both Chelsea and Liverpool spent massive amounts of money on strikers to little effect so far.

Fernando Torres has failed to consistently find the form he showed while with the Reds, and Andy Carroll is on his way to be labelled as the stereotype for over-valued English players in a sense similar to the one surrounding James Milner’s heft valuation.

Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero is scoring goals for fun in every competition for Mancini this year, showing that City simply spent their money better.

3. Steve Kean needs to go

The fiery Glaswegian manager did extremely well to steer Blackburn clear of relegation at the end of last season.

But given all the speculation and criticism coming from all quarters-Venky’s, media, and a vocal section of the supporter- his position has simply become untenable,whoever’s fault that may be.

This competition may be viewed as a sort of unwanted responsibility for a side fighting relegation, but Kean’s statements earlier in the year claiming his side was worthy of being in the top half of the table comes across as ridiculous following a dire 2-0 loss to Championship side Cardiff.

4. United’s second unit cannot get it done

Despite starting Dimitar Berbatov, Ji Sung Park, Chris Smalling, and the Da Silva twins among others, United crashed out 2-1 to mid-table Championship side Crystal Palace.

Sir Alex Ferguson picked a pretty weak side, including Ben Amos in goal and Jonny Evans as captain; Darron Gibson even got a rare run-out.

Hence, a spirited effort from the London outfit was enough to earn a result in front of a small crowd at Old Trafford, making it clear that the Red Devils needed to field a stronger side to progress into the semifinals.

5. Mancini’s ‘second squad’ can get it done

Although it sounds incredible, Roberto Mancini has effectively used the Carling Cup as a sort of reserve league for the fringe members of his side, and with a place in the last four now secured, silverware is in sight, making the graspable benefits of endless funds quite clear.

Costel Pantillimon, Wayne Bridge, Nedum Onouha, and Owen Hargreaves are essentially solely involved with the first-team for this competition, and more prominent figures like Pablo Zabaleta, Stefan Savic,Samir Nasri, Adam Johnson and Edin Dzeko can be called upon to make up the numbers when others are rested.

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