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Page last updated at 22:25 GMT, Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Wednesday football as it happened

GOALFLASHES AND MAJOR INCIDENTS (all times GMT)

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By Chris Bevan

2222: And that's a wrap. A good night in the Carling Cup for Liverpool, which sets us up nicely for the second leg, and a good night in the Premier League for Tottenham, which sets us up nicely for a three-way title race. Spurs, Manchester United and Manchester City could be level on points at the top by the time City go to Wigan on Monday night - and no question that the Londoners are the form team of that trio. Thanks for keeping me company for the last few hours, and I'll see you again at the weekend. Cheerio for now.

tommy_gun24 on Twitter: "Joint 2nd with United, City being reeled in...the Spurs go marching ON ON ON!!"

tlloyd101 on Twitter: "Very disappointing result for Ipswich tonight, must be time for Jewell to go, others have gone for less... Now its a relegation fight."

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Etihad Stadium: "Throughout the night there were a few tackles going in and there was a real sense of injustice among the City fans. The Vincent Kompany business has hurt them and there wasn't a big difference from the Glen Johnson challenge and the Kompany one."

2211: We could talk about this all night. But I think the point is that it doesn't matter whether Glen Johnson got the ball or not, it is that a two-footed challenge equals a red card. I don't think anyone is going to dispute that he went in two footed, or are they?

jackmosley12 on Twitter: "Everybody says the Kompany challenge wasn't red, so why should Johnson's challenge be red? Two wrongs don't make a right."

danielspurr on Twitter: "Shut up Gerrard. Doesn't matter if he got the ball. So did Kompany. Again no consistency, so frustrating!"

From Geoff, via text: "Get a grip - the difference between Kompany's red card and Johnson's tackle was that Johnson's was more of an interception, he wasn't flying in directly at the attacker."

From Luke, West Midlands, via text: "If I were Roberto Mancini, I would be lodging a complaint about the referee missing a blatant red card offence, for Glen Johnson's two footed challenge in the last minute. FAR worse than Kompany's that didn't get rescinded."

2204: A fair bit of reaction to that Glen Johnson tackle from you lot too...

Full time
FULL-TIME Tottenham 2-0 Everton (Premier League)
Alistair Magowan reports: "Title-challenging form from Tottenham, certainly, but Everton were pretty toothless in attack. The game against Manchester City on 22 January will be a better barometer of their title credentials."

Full time
FULL-TIME Man City 0-1 Liverpool (Carling Cup)
Phil McNulty reports from Etihad Stadium: "Liverpool will feel they have got the major part of the job done here and laid the platform for a return to Wembley for the first time since 1996. Manchester City had plenty of possession but lacked penetration."

2200: Right, time for a quick reminder of what happened tonight...

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp on his team's title hopes after they beat Everton to move within three points of Premier League leaders Manchester City: "We're up there. We're in the Champions League mix and looking to do that. Who knows? Nothing's impossible, you have to keep believing and apart from that I enjoy the way we play. If you don't enjoy the way we play, then you shouldn't be watching football."

Alan Hansen
BBC football pundit Alan Hansen at Etihad Stadium on Manchester City's display and recent form: "If they want to be champions, they have to take the game by the scruff of the neck and do something special. The whole thing was dead - you have to give the supporters something to shout about they didn't do that. Four defeats in eight tells its own story."

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, asked if Glen Johnson's tackle on Joleon Lescott was two-footed: "I don't think so. It was a clear winner of a tackle. Roberto Mancini had a go at Wayne Rooney for trying to get his player sent off on Sunday so trying to get one of our players into trouble, that's not right. It's set up for a cracking match at Anfield. There's still 90 minutes to play and I'm sure it will be a cracker at Anfield. The advantage is ours but it's still not over."

From City fan Dave in Manchester, via text: "Have just come out of the Etihad Stadium hugely upset with the performance, lacking defensive solidity in Kompany, and cutting-edge flare in Silva. Not a great day but City lives on!"

2150: Hmmmm. Replays of that Glen Johnson tackle indeed confim it was definitely two-footed. He won the ball, of course, but that doesn't matter anymore, does it?

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini on his side's defeat by Liverpool: "The first half we didn't play well because after six months it can happen for the first time. It is clear that without three or four players it's more difficult but in the end we didn't deserve to lose the game. We played poorly in the first half but the result is not right. The right result was a draw. Maybe it was a penalty but there was a tackle from Glen Johnson that was worse than Vincent Kompany's against Manchester United."

damiendavis on Twitter: "So, the game in hand finally counts. 3 points in the bag and the Spurs go marching on! #COYS"

Tottenham skipper Michael Dawson on his first Premier League appearance since August in his side's 2-0 win over Everton: "I'm delighted to be back playing and to get the three points and go joint second in the table, the lads were fantastic tonight. We always needed a second goal to make it more comfortable, because they came on strong towards the end."

2144: Time for some Championship news. With almost the last kick of the game at St Andrew's, Nikola Zigic grabs his second of the game and Birmingham's winner against Ipswich. The home side nick it at the end, 2-1.

From Toby in London, via text: "Absolutely no referee consistency. Glen Johnson's two footed tackle was an exact replica of Kompany's but no reaction from the opposition means no card!"

2141: It's only half-time, but job done by Liverpool in the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final. Their players embrace as they walk off the pitch, and they have a 1-0 lead to take back to Anfield.

Full time
2140: FULL-TIME Man City 0-1 Liverpool

2138: Interesting. Glen Johnson dives in two-footed on Joleon Lescott. He gets the ball but "worse than Vincent Kompany's" is Lawro's verdict. Referee Lee Mason does not even give the free-kick.

2137: City's best effort for a while. They take a quick free-kick to catch Liverpool napping and, from Samir Nasri's cross, Sergio Aguero flicks his header a yard over. There will be three minutes of stoppage time, and we have played one minute of it already.

Full time
2137: FULL-TIME: Tottenham 2-0 Everton

Handbags
Yellow card
Yellow card
2132: Samir Nasri sums up a frustrating night for City as he is booked for reacting to a late swipe from Jamie Carragher's boot as they tussle for possesion by the right-hand touchline. Both players end up in Lee Mason's book.

From Tim, via text: "City without Silva have the same problem Arsenal used to have without Fabregas; Lots of players who can pass superbly, but none who can split the defence with that killer ball."

From Kieran in Cardiff, via text: "This isn't the Liverpool I've grown to know and love over the years.... 6 defenders is a joke."

Spurs fan littlejason on Twitter: "Spurs flying, United stuttering , Man City Imploding , Chelsea Plodding and Arsenal signing from the past, dare we dream?"

2131: City are getting increasingly desperate. James Milner is their latest player to have a pop from distance, but he drags his shot wide. I think they might have run out of ideas of how to break down this mass of red shirts.

2129: Liverpool bring on another defender, with Jamie Carragher replacing Craig Bellamy. The Reds have got another 10 minutes to hold out, and take a 1-0 lead back to Anfield for the second leg. I don't think they are looking to do any more than that.

2126: A big penalty shout by Everton. Royston Drenthe goes past Younes Kaboul in the area and goes to ground. Kaboul definitely made contact and that looked like a spot-kick to me. Referee Martin Atkinson thinks otherwise.

2124: Say what you like about Liverpool's tactics but they have succeeded in taking the sting out of City's attacks. Micah Richards tries to do a 'Yaya Toure' by bursting forward before feeding Aleksandar Kolarov, but the visitors have plenty of men back and, when Kolarov tries his luck from distance, he does not trouble Pepe Reina.

Mark Lawrenson
BBC football pundit Mark Lawrenson at Etihad Stadium: "Liverpool haven't helped themselves with the system they're playing. They're inviting City on to them by playing five at the back."

2119: Another City change. Aleksandar Kolarov comes on for Nigel de Jong, and he immediately whips in a free-kick from wide on the right touchline. If he gets it right, it's dangerous... but he overcooks it and it flies straight out of play.

2117: No sign of an Everton comeback at White Hart Lane. In fact, Spurs have just gone close to grabbing a third goal. After Rafael van der Vaart sets up Emmanuel Adebayor on the edge of the box, Leighton Baines makes a superb last ditch tackle to deny him, and Johnny Heitinga then deflects a Van der Vaart shot over. The points look safe for Spurs.

Daniel Helliwell on Twitter: "The best thing Dalglish has done at Liverpool is dropping Carragher to the bench! They look so solid at the back now!"

2115: Edin Dzeko is on, replacing Adam Johnson. City still have the ball, and Liverpool are still defending in numbers. With just over 20 minutes left, the Reds still lead 1-0.

2113: Better by City, as Sergio Aguero darts forward and makes space for a shot by sending three Liverpool players the wrong way on the edge of the area. His effort is a daisy-cutter though, easily dealt with by Pepe Reina.

Johnny Nunn on Twitter: "It doesn't matter if you wear odd boots and drive a smartcar when you score goals like that #ilovebenoitassouekotto "

2110: Liverpool continue to sit back and soak up this City possession. It looks like Edin Dzeko is coming on for the home side to try to change that.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Etihad Stadium: "Manchester City have responded well in the second half but still cannot break Liverpool down. And Kenny Dalglish has bolstered his side by sending on defender Jose Enrique for Stewart Downing."

Mark Lawrenson
BBC football pundit Mark Lawrenson at Etihad Stadium: "Liverpool have started to give the ball away a little bit which is something you couldn't accuse them of doing in the first half. Glen Johnson was talking to Martin Skrtel like he doesn't really know where he's supposed to be playing and I'm still not convinced that he knows where he's playing."

Sam Boughtwood on Twitter: "It must be so frustrating as a Liverpool player to feed the ball to Carroll, only to see their efforts wasted by his poor touch."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Tottenham goal: At first glance this looks like a goal of the month contender, with Benoit Assou-Ekotto letting fly from 30 yards out and sendng the ball screaming past Tim Howard. Replays show it actually took a nick off Tim Cahill on its way through to goal, but there was still no stopping it.

2107: GOALFLASH Tottenham 2-0 Everton (Benoit Assou-Ekotto)

2105: Pepe Reina comes to Liverpool's rescue again, keeping out a header from Micah Richards after he had leapt to meet Samir Nasri's corner. I don't think Reina knew much about it, but he got behind it which is what counts.

2104: City clearly need some help going forward tonight, and they almost get it when Martin Kelly's woeful backpass is collected by Sergio Aguero. Pepe Reina is quickly off his line to close down the City striker, though, and he does enough to put Aguero off, getting a hand to the ball just before the Argentine fired over.

2101: Liverpool break quickly when Pepe Reina flings the ball to Jordan Henderson from a City corner. Henderson charges forward and gets into the area, but he only has Craig Bellamy in support and his rushed cross is easily cleared.

From Steve in Islington, via text: "Who'd have thought it! If Spurs hold on to this lead they'll be level pegging with Man Utd and 3 pts behind the leaders. As a lifelong Spurs fan I have to pinch myself to believe it!"

Jamie Hardesty on Twitter: "So much talk tonight about City's missing players, Joe Hart has shown so far that he might actually be their most indispensable."

2058: City manage a decent spell of possession on the edge of the Liverpool area but they can progress no further. Charlie Adam snuffs out the threat by nicking the ball off Samir Nasri out by the right corner flag and then wins a goal-kick by kicking the ball at Nasri. The Reds still look very comfortable to me.

2056: Another sniff for Spurs. Benoit Assou-Ekotto sends over a delicious cross for Aaron Lennon but Tottenham's goalscorer cannot direct his header goalwards. Lennon should have done better there.

2054: It looks like City have changed their shape at the break and gone to three at the back. Micah Richards, Stefan Savic and Joleon Lescott are in the middle with James Milner and Gael Clichy operating as wing-backs.

2053: Tottenham are back on the attack. Gareth Bale surges forward and his shot from the edge of a box takes a nick off Johnny Heitinga so Tim Howard does very well to keep it out.

2052: Liverpool get the second half started. No changes from either team at the break.

2050: Right, anyone else remember City's last second-half display, against Manchester United on Sunday? They need something similar here.

Liverpool fan JamesWard80 on Twitter: "Not scoring more heavily, especially when bossing games, has been our undoing all season. Anyone else worried?"

Whistle
2048: We are back under way at White Hart Lane.

Lee Dixon
BBC football pundit Lee Dixon at Etihad Stadium "Liverpool have dominated in midfield. Whenever anyone's got the ball they've got a pass on and the opposite is the case for City. They've got no options, no pace in the attack, they're lacking penetration up front and there's no focal point. It took them 43 minutes to have a chance, Sergio Aguero's not been in the game and, apart from the goalkeeper, they've been awful and we've not said that often this season. It's the opposite for Liverpool who are really on their game and have done the simple things well. That's been enough."

GraemeCrawford8 on Twitter: "Liverpool need to take advantage of Kompany & Silva missing out tonight. Chance to put City out of the tie if they up the tempo."

Alan Shearer
BBC football pundit Alan Shearer at Etihad Stadium "You would never guess that City have got the chance to play Palace or Cardiff in a final to win a trophy. There's a lack of atmosphere, there are 5,000 or 6,000 empty seats and the fans aren't getting behind the team, who aren't giving the fans anything at all to shoult about. Liverpool deserve to be in front. If I was Andy Carroll I would go and stand on Stefan Savic because he's got a mistake in him."

Tottenham fan JeetRajani on Twitter: "Now that Bale's been given a free role, it looks to have benefited Assou-Ekotto as well! He's been brilliant in the first half!"

Alan Hansen
BBC football pundit Alan Hansen at Etihad Stadium on Manchester City's disappointing display so far: "When you're in trouble and struggling you need to get together and show fight and show character and they showed nothing for the first 43 minutes or so. If it wasn't for Joe Hart they'd be out of this. The only unfortunate thing for Kenny Dalglish is that Liverpoll are only 1-0 up."

2041: Half-time in the Championship and it's all square between Birmingham and Ipswich. Nikola Zigic grabbed the opener with a header for the hosts but Lee Martin levelled matters soon after with a spectacular effort. Evenly matched at St Andrew's - and remember you can listen to the second half on 5 live sports extra.

MrValli on Twitter: "Liverpool making Man City looking so ordinary! The Reds deserve the lead. City need some inspiration from somewhere..."

RedIssue on Twitter: "City look completely out of sorts - shows how much they rely on 3 players who are missing. Silva, Kompany & Toure."

Half time
Tottenham 1-0 Everton
Alistair Magowan's HT snapshot:
"Tottenham well on top and perhaps should be more than a goal to the good, but victory looks well within them. Famous last words?"

Half time
HALF-TIME Man City 0-1 Liverpool
Chief football writer Phil McNulty's HT snapshot from Etihad Stadium:
"Liverpool's only disappointment will be that they are not further ahead after that early flurry was repelled by the outstanding Joe Hart. Manchester City disappointing but showing signs of life towards half-time."

From James Hitchings-Hales in Cardiff, via text: "Poorest display I've seen from Man City so far this season. Silva, Kompany, and the Toure's have been sorely missed. Savic has been woeful too."

2036: HALF-TIME Man City 0-1 Liverpool

2035: Adam Johnson will take it too... he curls the ball over the Liverpool wall but high and wide of Pepe Reina's goal too.

2034: We are into stoppage time at the end of the first half at Etihad Stadium. Liverpool make a mess of clearing a corner and Steven Gerrard barges over Adam Johnson as he shapes to shoot. City have a free-kick, about 25 yards from goal...

2033: HALF-TIME Tottenham 1-0 Everton

2032: Yep, we have seen before that Roberto Mancini is not afraid to change his side's shape if things aren't working. Samir Nasri has bolstered City's numbers in midfield, and they are giving the Liverpool defence a lot more work to do all of a sudden.

Jay Antrobus on Twitter: "Mancini reminds me of Mourinho. He doesn't wait for the 60 min sub, if he doesn't like what he sees, he'll do it straight away."

2030: Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina made a howler in the rain here a week ago when he let Sergio Aguero's shot slip past him so it is not surprising he looks a bit edgy as he pushes away Samir Nasri's speculative shot. City have improved in the last five minutes and they create another shooting chance when Micah Richards battles to the byline and pulls the ball back for James Milner to blast over from the edge of the area.

Frank Pietermaat on Twitter: "He's no Scott Parker, but Jake Livermore is doing a great job in midfield for Spurs."

2028: With an away goal in the bag, Liverpool have largely sat back since they scored... and they have coped well with everything City have thrown at them. Which isn't a lot. The Reds are good value for their 1-0 lead at the moment.

Mark Lawrenson
BBC football pundit Mark Lawrenson at Etihad Stadium: "It's strange isn't it? Mario's straight up the tunnel which is fine if you're injured. This is the worst City have been in a 45 minutes this season. Liverpool deserve credit but City have been distinctly average."

2027: That's the end of Balotelli Bingo for tonight then... not his finest 40 minutes either. Mind you, the entire City team are having a bad time of things.

2026: Yep, Balotelli is coming off. I don't think he is injured, just out of sorts. With five minutes to go until half-time, Samir Nasri is on and Balotelli has disappeared down the tunnel.

2025: Roberto Mancini has seen enough. Samir Nasri is coming on for City, and it looks like he is replacing Mario Balotelli.

2023: Mario Balotelli is not having a great time at the moment. First he miscontrols a simple pass out on the left, then he gives away a free-kick as he tries to make amends.

Liam Sharpe on Twitter: "Big chance for Downing or Johnson to show Capello who, if either, should be playing left wing for England."

Mark Lawrenson
BBC football pundit Mark Lawrenson at Etihad Stadium: "Charlie Adam tapped Mario Balotelli's head, put his hand on his Mohawk. We never know whether we're going to get super Mario or Stupid Mario. There's a story about him every day and you're inclined to believe them. But you can't take your eyes off him when he plays. City are certainly missing David Silva coming off lines and playing balls into Balotelli and Sergio Aguero. They are really missing that at the moment, more than they're missing Yaya Toure, because Liverpool are sitting a little bit deeper now."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Tottenham goal: It's been coming. Aaron Lennon latches on to a searching diagonal ball by Benoit Assou-Ekotto and cuts in - too easily - past Leighton Baines and into the area before firing a low shot past Tim Howard as Sylvain Distin slid in.

2019: GOALFLASH Tottenham 1-0 Everton (Aaron Lennon)

2019: After a couple of dubious penalty appeals by Spurs, Emmanuel Adebayor has another chance, but when the ball breaks to him from Benoit Assou-Ekotto's cross he again fires wide from 10 yards in a congested penalty area. Rafael van der Vaart has just seen a curling shot fizz over the bar too.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Etihad Stadium: "Manchester City fans starting to show their irritation at the lack of urgency and threat from Roberto Mancini's team. And, in their defence, they have a very valid point."

2016: Charlie Adam riles Mario Balotelli by ruffling his neck after bringing him down. Fortunately for the City striker he is ushered away from Adam before he can retaliate. The City striker eventually settles for smashing the free-kick goalwards.. and straight into the Liverpool wall.

It's raining
2013: We are coming up to the half hour mark at Etihad Stadium, and Liverpool are still looking comfortable. City, as you might expect, are badly missing the invention of David Silva and the drive of Yaya Toure. Micah Richards is trying his best to get things going, and robs Andy Carroll of possession, but his long-range shot is hopeful, and a long way off target. Oh, and it's raining again.

Jack Anniky on Twitter: "Carroll looks like a completely different player to how he was at Newcastle, he carries zero threat."

2010: A good opportunity for Spurs... is wasted. A swift break forward sees Rafael van der Vaart release Gareth Bale, who squares the ball for Emmanuel Adebayor - and leave him with only Tim Howard to beat. Adebayor's touch is too heavy, however, and the ball ends up rolling out of play.

2009: Tottenham are still well on top against Everton, but still no goals there. In Manchester, Jay Spearing has tweaked a hamstring so Charlie Adam is on for Liverpool instead.

2008: In the Championship, Lee Martin smashes home a left-foot drive from 20 yards to level for Ipswich at Birmingham. Nikola Zigic had given the hosts an early lead at St Andrew's in what sounds like a very decent game.

2005: Neither of these sides usually concede many goals - they are the two meanest defences in the Premier League this season - but this isn't City's usual defence, is it? Anyway, Liverpool are looking pretty solid at the moment, and are spraying the ball around pretty confidently too.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Etihad Stadium: "Liverpool playing on the nerves - and there appears to be plenty of them - of Stefan Savic. No exaggeration to suggest Liverpool could have been out of sight in the first 15 minutes if it was not for the brilliance of Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart."

2003: What's happening at White Hart Lane? Not a great deal... but Tottenham are starting to press a bit harder. Emmanuel Adebayor is put in down the left, but his shot from a tight angle flies over the bar.

Dan Irvine on Twitter: "Savic doesn't look comfortable at all. City are seriously missing Kompany at the back now."

Mark Lawrenson
BBC football pundit Mark Lawrenson at Etihad Stadium on Liverpool's penalty: "Stefan Savic catches him on the knee and it's a daft tackle. That will have come in part from Andy Carroll turning him before and he's obviously extremely nervy at the moment. It's thoroughly deserved and it was an outstanding penalty as well. You don't save those."

Someone has won a penalty
Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Liverpool goal: From that corner, Joe Hart made another superb stop to keep out Stewart Downing's deflected shot but the Reds' pressure evntually tells. City fail to clear the next corner too, and Stefan Savic gets all of the man and none of the ball as he tangles with Daniel Agger. Lee Mason points to the spot, and Steven Gerrard buries his penalty into the bottom corner. No saving that.

2000: GOALFLASH Man City 0-1 Liverpool (Steven Gerrard pen)

1959: PENALTY to Liverpool

1958: Joe Hart is called into action again, and makes another top save. This time he dives to his left to push away Steven Gerrard's curling low shot. Corner to Liverpool.

1956: It was Stewart Downing who played in Andy Carroll for that early Reds chance. Carroll did well to out-muscle Stefan Savic but less well with his shot, which he scuffed a bit. Anyway, much like they did in last week's Premier League encounter, Liverpool are still having the majority of possession.

1955: No more openings to tell you about at White Hart Lane. Spurs have settled since that early scare, and they are playing some pretty passing football - probing the Everton defence for weaknesses. No joy for them so far.

1953: It is Liverpool who create the first chance, with Andy Carroll losing Stefan Savic inside the area... but his shot is blocked by the onrushing Joe Hart. At the other end, Pepe Reina is off his line quickly to help thwart Mario Balotelli as City look to break quickly. It's been a lively old start.

1951: By the way, as well as watching the action from the Etihad right here on this website and BBC One, you can listen to commentary on 5 live too. If Championship matters concern you more, 5 live sports extra is covering Birmingham-Ipswich from St Andrew's.

1949: Liverpool have seen more of the ball in the first couple of minutes, but they have not done much with it. City cannot keep possession once they venture out of their own half.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez on Twitter: "All the luck in the world for my teammates, I wish I could be on the field with team! Come on Liverpool! YNWA"

1947: Everton are almost ahead within seconds. Landon Donovan's cross is not dealt with by Younes Kaboul and Louis Saha latches on to the loose ball to fire a first-time shot a fraction wide of the post. Oh, and we have started in Manchester too.

Whistle
1945: We are under way at White Hart Lane.


Man City v Liverpool
MAN CITY v LIVERPOOL TEAM NEWS
Chief football writer Phil McNulty reports from Etihad Stadium:
"Stefan Savic starts in the centre of Manchester City's defence to cover suspended captain Vincent Kompany and Mario Balotelli returns from an ankle injury. Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish makes six changes to the team that beat Oldham 5-1 on Friday night, with Steven Gerrard and Craig Bellamy both starting."

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish on his side's hopes of reaching Wembley: "It's a long time since we've been involved in a two-legged competition and we will take it as it comes. We've got a load of attacking players so we might as well use them. Craig Bellamy has been great for us in the Carling Cup, the FA Cup and the Premier League. It would be unfair to think he can produce it again because he's had a good run in the Carling Cup but I hope he does. We take encouragement from our team sheet. They've got a fantastic squad and if they've got a couple missing they put another couple in that aren't too far behind."


1942: The players are in the tunnel at the Etihad, where we are about to see City's pre kick-off Blue Moon light show. In north London, the teams are already out on the pitch.

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, speaking to the BBC ahead of kick-off: "I hope that David Silva's ankle injury is not serious and that he will recover for the next game on Monday. This is a semi-final, we play this over two matches, it's an important cup and we want to get into the final if it's possible. It's difficult because Liverpool are a strong team, play well, defend well and it will be a tough game."

Lee Dixon
BBC football pundit Lee Dixon at Etihad Stadium "Mario Balotelli is one of those players you don't really know what he is going to do, he doesn't and I'm sure his team-mates don't either. In a semi-final of a cup he can do something out of the ordinary and I think he could be a match-winner tonight."

Alan Hansen
BBC football pundit Alan Hansen at Etihad Stadium "We thought at the start of the season that Manchester City might not even get beaten this campaign. But three defeats in seven matches is a blip and they need to get back on track as quickly as possible."

1938: Ahem. A few of you asking who City's new midfielder 'Arry' is in our line-ups below. His full name is actually 'Areth Arry' (if you have got fat fingers, like me).

jornns on Twitter: "Liverpool need to go to Wembley big time! We'll cope City at Anfield and snatch a place in top 4. Copenhagen dreaming. YNWA!"

Birmingham v Ipswich line-ups
Birmingham:
Myhill, Murphy, Davies, Caldwell, Spector, Beausejour, Gomis, Fahey, Burke, King, Zigic. Subs: Doyle, Ridgewell, Mutch, Rooney, Redmond.
Ipswich: McCarthy, Edwards, Sonko, Smith, Cresswell, Martin, Drury, Leadbitter, Emmanuel-Thomas, Murphy, Scotland. Subs: Lee-Barrett, Chopra, Ellington, Carson, Ainsley.
Referee: Rob Lewis (Shropshire)

Tottenham v Everton
TOTTENHAM v EVERTON
(Premier League, 1945 GMT)
Alistair Magowan reports:
"Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp says his priority remains getting back into the Champions League but says his team can challenge for the title. 'I am not going to say 'we are going to win the league',' he said. 'But you just never know.' Despite that, Everton have a good record at White Hart Lane and boss David Moyes said: 'We are all aware Spurs are now potential title winners but it is game which has been very close over the years.'"

Alan Shearer
BBC football pundit Alan Shearer at Etihad Stadium "There should be goals with the players out there on the pitch tonight. Liverpool will be desperate to get to Wembley after a long wait and back to winning a trophy, while Manchester City will be desperate to continue their run of silverware after winning the FA Cup last season"

Man City v Liverpool line-ups
Man City:
Hart, Richards, Lescott, Savic, Clichy, Milner, Barry, De Jong, Johnson, Aguero, Balotelli. Subs: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Dzeko, Kolarov, Nasri, Hargreaves, Onuoha.
Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson, Downing, Spearing, Henderson, Bellamy, Gerrard, Carroll. Subs: Doni, Jose Enrique, Coates, Kuyt, Carragher, Adam, Shelvey.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

1929: Time for a manual refresh if you are watching on the web, or to tune into BBC One if you are near a TV. The BBC's Match of the Day Live coverage from Etihad Stadium starts... now.

mjquinlan1986 on Twitter: "Re 1913. Balotelli to play with no shorts, just Y Fronts."

alanbuchanan on Twitter: "Re 1913. Balotelli to come out with a Fellaini-esque perm tonight."

Man City v Liverpool
MAN CITY v LIVERPOOL
(Carling Cup semi-final 1st Leg, 1945 GMT)
Chief football writer Phil McNulty reports from Etihad Stadium:
"Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes they have not reached levels where they can prioritise competitions, so will go all out to win the Carling Cup. He said: "If we win the Carling Cup, it is another trophy for us. We are not Manchester United, we are not Chelsea, we need to win everything if possible." Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is confident they can set up their first Wembley appearance since 1996 despite a heavy league defeat at City last week, saying: "We lost 3-0 and so we will look at it but I don't think it will be a reflection on the next two games coming up in the Carling Cup."

From Billy in Liverpool, via text: "If he had scored all the sitters he missed, Carroll would be well on the way to repaying £35M. Just hasn't got to grips with being forced from being Newcastle's number 9, where his heart was set. Still hopeful of a repeat of last seasons performance v city tonight, or even in the second leg would be fine!"

Tottenham v Everton
TOTTENHAM v EVERTON
(Premier League, 1945 GMT)
Alistair Magowan reports: "Tottenham
boss Harry Redknapp rings the changes after beating Cheltenham in the FA Cup. Scott Parker still has a knee problem so Jake Livermore is his deputy with Sandro also injured. Rafael van der Vaart starts behind Emmanuel Adebayor. Everton make three alterations to their win over Tamworth with Leighton Baines in for Seamus Coleman with Tim Cahill and Louis Saha also reinstated."

Tottenham v Everton line-ups
Tottenham:
Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Livermore, Modric, Bale, Van der Vaart, Adebayor. Subs: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Defoe, Bassong, Kranjcar, Rose, Pienaar.
Everton: Howard, Neville, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Donovan, Bilyaletdinov, Cahill, Fellaini, Anichebe, Saha. Subs: Mucha, Drenthe, Stracqualursi, McFadden, Gueye, Vellios, Duffy.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)

From Bill from Wycombe, via text: "Balotelli is the Robin Hood of football. He will score then shower the away fans with £20 notes."

BraD_lutz on Twitter: "Re 1913. Why must we play Balotelli Bingo? I mean, does it always have to be about him? :) "

Jack_Blum on Twitter: "#MCFC will struggle tonight without Kompany's presence at the back, Toure's holding and Silva's magic. 2-1 to #LFC"

Vektrix on Twitter: "Balotelli to score a SPECTACULAR own-goal or he forgets to tie his laces and falls over in the centre circle."

From Stew on the A1, via text: "Liverpool fan here! Think City are to strong for Liverpool and with Balotelli starting I can see them repeating the 3-0 league drubbing."

1913: Anyone else looking forward to seeing Mario Balotelli in action for the first time in 2012? It's never going to be dull when he's on the pitch, is it? Are we thinking a new hair-cut, goals, cards, allergic reactions, bib problems, a ridiculous chicken hat... or all six? Let's play Balotelli Bingo.

1911: Believe it or not, Andy Carroll scored when Liverpool began their Carling Cup campaign with victory at Exeter City in August - he's only managed that three times since. The Reds are still to play at Anfield in this competition this season but that hasn't stopped them beating Brighton, Stoke and, most impressively, Chelsea on the road in previous rounds. They will, of course, get to play the second leg against City at home on 25 January.

1908: So, how did Manchester City and Liverpool get here? City's Carling Cup run started with them knocking the holders, Birmingham, out in August. Carlos Tevez and Wayne Bridge played in that game for City, and Owen Hargreaves scored a beauty. Hargreaves is on the bench tonight, but no sign of the other two, funnily enough. On their way to the last four, City have also put five goals past Wolves at Molineux and beat last year's losing finalists Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium too.

From Andy in Nottingham, via text: "Hopefully Andy Carroll can get a lot of service tonight and show everyone what he is capable of."

craigvmason on Twitter: "Re DaveLawrence5. Yaya Toure has been the best midfielder in the Prem this season. By a long way!"

DavidJCornwell on Twitter: "You could argue that Liverpool are more balanced now with Carroll and Bellamy, bonus Stevie back in midfield."

1900: There's one other game going on tonight that I haven't mentioned yet. Appropriately enough, Carling Cup holders Birmingham are also in action, playing catch-up from their fixture backlog in the Championship because of their involvement in the Europa League group stage. They face struggling Ipswich.

1857: BREAKING LIVERPOOL TEAM NEWS: Steven Gerrard, Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll all start for Liverpool. Gerrard and Bellamy only came off the bench in the second half at Etihad Stadium a week ago... Carroll played the entire 90 minutes but did not exactly shine.

DaveLawrence5 on Twitter: "Am I the only City fan happy that Yaya Toure has departed? He is far too slow for our style, and wastes the ball! 2-0 tonight!"

Mark Lawrenson
BBC football pundit Mark Lawrenson at Etihad Stadium: "As is always the case for Manchester City, the key for them is to be patient but they haven't got David Silva who brings them that X-factor. It's the first time in a long time that City have gone into such a high profile game without Silva and Yaya Toure. I wouldn't make Liverpool favourites but they have a great chance of a draw. Steven Gerrard's back and Craig Bellamy will play closer to Andy Carroll but Liverpool would snap your hand off for a draw right now."

From Nathan, studying in the Toon, via text: "Chris, it's evident to say that despite both Man City and Liverpool having spent many millions and missing their best players, City have a far deeper squad and with home advantage should see this out."

From Ant Reyre, via text: "Spurs fan here. As much as I'm loving the season, I can't see us winning the title. And thats ok as long as we keep playing the beautiful football, being the top London team, and keep the purple kit!"

1853: BREAKING TOTTENHAM TEAM NEWS: Jake Livermore replaces Scott Parker in midfield, while Michael Dawson comes into the Spurs defence to make his first start since August. I'll bring you Everton news as soon as get it.

1849: BREAKING MAN CITY TEAM NEWS: David Silva misses out but Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero start together up front. Stefan Savic comes into defence to replace the suspended Vincent Kompany. Liverpool news and full line-ups will be with you in just a tick.

paul_stampa12 on Twitter: "Dont worry, our best player is available tonight. The same man who's been our best player for the last 10 years, Steven Gerrard!"

modan7 on Twitter: "One player doesn't make a team! Yes missing Suarez is a blow, but Liverpool are a world class club and have sufficient cover."

OptaJoe on Twitter: "42 - If the league had started on September 1st, Tottenham would be top of the table, three points clear of Man City in 2nd. Tortoise."

1844: As well as your thoughts on Tottenham's title tilt, where exactly does the Carling Cup rank for Manchester City and Liverpool? Well below winning the title for City - and ditto making the top four for Liverpool - I suspect. But a trophy is a trophy, right? Like Muttley with his medals, everyone loves a bit of silverware. The Reds haven't won one for six years, City have only managed one since 1976. You do the math. #BBCFootball, Tweet me @chrisbevan_bbc or text in via 81111 (UK).

1840: So, can Tottenham really win the Premier League? Not many people will be able to say they saw it coming if they do. When I spoke to 30 BBC TV, radio and online pundits in August, only one of them (Alan Shearer) thought they would even finish in the top four. And that was only because he couldn't choose between Spurs, Liverpool and Arsenal for fourth.

chazefc96 on Twitter: "Re 1824. As an Everton fan I find it very exciting, a result here tonight could finally kick start our season"

Tottenham v Everton
TOTTENHAM v EVERTON
(Premier League, 1945 GMT)
Alistair Magowan reports:
"The summer riots meant this game was postponed on the opening day of the season in August but after making a slow start, Tottenham are sprinting towards the top of the table. Thumped by Manchester United and Manchester City early in the campaign, Spurs are now breathing down their necks. Everton are stalling in comparison but have been better away from home this season and they will want to test Michael Dawson, who is back for his first Premier League appearance since August."

1833: Yep, City are without their best defender in Vincent Kompany, and their best midfielder in Yaya Toure. Liverpool, though, are without arguably their best player full-stop in Luis Suarez. Thoughts?

Man City v Liverpool
MAN CITY v LIVERPOOL
(Carling Cup semi-final 1st Leg, 1945 GMT)
Chief football writer Phil McNulty reports from Etihad Stadium:
"Manchester City and Liverpool meet in Carling Cup semi-final action a week after Roberto Mancini's side recorded a comfortable 3-0 Premier League win at The Etihad Stadium. Liverpool may draw encouragement from the absence of City's two most influential performers, captain Vincent Kompany and midfield man Yaya Toure, through suspension and international duty respectively."

1828: Before we continue, a quick reminder. Tonight's Carling Cup semi-final first leg between City and Liverpool is live on BBC One and this website in the UK). Coverage starts at 1930 GMT, and kick-off is at 1945. You can listen to commentary from Etihad Stadium on BBC Radio 5 live too, so it's fair to say we've got it covered.

1824: Yep, Manchester City and Liverpool are looking to put one foot in the Carling Cup final, while Tottenham know a win will see them move within three points of City at the top of the Premier League. To be brutally honest, it's not quite as exciting for Everton - but if they pick up at least a point at White Hart Lane, they go up two places to ninth.

1820: Evening all. Whether you are dreaming of Wembley or your mind is on the title race, we have got a lot to look forward to tonight. Welcome to what promises to be a wonderful Wednesday of football.




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League Cup results

11 Jan 2012 23:59 UK


Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 11 Jan 2012 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man City 20 40 48
2 Man Utd 20 29 45
3 Tottenham 20 18 45
4 Chelsea 20 14 37
5 Arsenal 20 8 36
6 Liverpool 20 6 34
7 Newcastle 20 4 33
8 Stoke 20 -9 29
9 Norwich 20 -5 25
10 Sunderland 20 4 24
11 Everton 20 -4 24
12 Swansea 20 -3 23
13 Aston Villa 20 -4 23
14 Fulham 20 -4 23
15 West Brom 20 -9 22
16 Wolves 20 -14 17
17 QPR 20 -16 17
18 Bolton 20 -18 16
19 Wigan 20 -23 15
20 Blackburn 20 -14 14

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