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Carling Cup Bets

The instance of a North London derby is not enough to convince Arsene Wenger to give up his policy of fielding his youngsters in the Carling Cup as Arsenal head to arch-rivals Tottenham for Wednesday evening's semi-final first-leg.

The competition is definitely getting serious by this point - but Wenger has always doggedly stuck to the idea that this is the competition in which he fields some of the wealth of teenage talent in the Arsenal squad.

That means that the players who came back to beat Manchester United in the Premiership on Sunday will be watching from the stands while a team similar to that which destroyed Liverpool 6-3 at Anfield will take the pitch at White Hart Lane.

"We want to repeat our previous performances we have had so far in this competition - if we can win at Everton and win at Liverpool, then we can win at Tottenham as well. Now it is down to the boys to prove that," he announced.

"It will be a very special atmosphere, and we will be ready for it. Don't forget we were in the semi-finals last year, and we feel our young players have improved since then."

That means that players like of Theo Walcott and Jeremie Aliadiere can expect a run out while on-loan Real Madrid man Julio Baptista - a rare senior figure on the side - is also probably to start after scoring four goals against Liverpool.

What Tottenham manager Martin Jol chooses to do is less clear. The cups have become more significant to Spurs as their league form has dropped, but Jol's side are still well-placed in both the UEFA Cup and FA Cup, and the Carling Cup takes a definite backseat to both.

The temptation to field a full-strength squad when he knows Arsenal will be watered down is obvious to see.

No matter how impressive the Arsenal youth have been, a full-strength Tottenham should beat inexperienced opposition, and the confidence boost a victory over their arch-rivals would give to everyone at the Tottenham might persuade Jol to go for it.

Even so, he must beat the odds. Although they are the visitors, the bookies offer Arsenal at the same quote as Tottenham: 2.40 odds. But why not? The thrashing of Liverpool was so comprehensive, it is difficult to argue.

Jol is also battling injury concerns. Midfielder Teemu Tainio is injured, while captain Ledley King won't be risked.

The exodus of Calum Davenport to West Ham means that Michael Dawson and Anthony Gardner are the only on hand central defenders.

The match also looks to have come too soon for Jermaine Jenas, Mido and Paul Stalteri, meaning Jol might not have to wonder too long who to play. He will not have a lot of choice.

The focus on Tuesday was a new face to have come to White Hart Lane - Portugal defender Ricardo Rocha, who joins for an undisclosed amount from Benfica.

The 28-year-old won't be thrown into action immediately, and will watch from the stands on Wednesday.

"Tottenham is a fantastic club, which is historic in England," Rocha said. "They are one of the best teams who always try to win by playing good football and have a great cup tradition."

Keeping that cup tradition against what is in actual fact their rival's reserve squad is easier said than done.

You can bet on Tottenham to win the Carling Cup at Paddy Power Bookmaker, who price them at a market-leading 5.50 wagering odds.

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