I don't think there is a competition out there that fans view as differently as the Carling Cup. Some like the approach typically used by the special one and Liverpool's Kenny Dalglish, that silverware of any kind is important and we should be running out the best squad possible for every tie. Others favor the Wenger/Ferguson approach, using the games as an opportunity to break youngsters into the team and get senior players on the fringes some time on the pitch. While the first two CC games of the AVB era have been used to deploy the youth, many fans seem to want that to change now that we are reaching the latter stages of the tournament. Add in the run of poor results the club has had recently, and AVB seems to be in a bit of a no win situation here.
The upcoming schedule is brutal, featuring the must win (or 0-0 draw) against Valencia and Premier League contests against City, Newcastle, Spurs, Villa, Fulham, and Wigan in the next month before a slight reprieve in January. From that aspect it would certainly be nice to rest some of the regulars in advance of an important month. On the opposite side of that coin though is the fact that the next three fixtures after the CC are very important, so establishing a bit of a run of good form could be especially useful. There is also the question of at what point we need to start treating the competition more seriously (if ever). With each advancing round we are moving legitimately closer to silverware, so even if we don't feel it's a top competition there does begin to be some appeal to winning and assuring UEFA football next season.
The media seem to be pushing the idea that we must win this game due to the rough patch we've been going through, but honestly I'd take the opinions of most of our readers over most of the tabloid media any day of the week. With that in mind, I'd love to hear your thoughts on how we should be approaching this specific tie, and I'd love to see what kind of lineups you'd be putting into place for this one. Have at it...
*Just as a reminder, the reserves play this afternoon on Chelsea TV (2 EST). The squad we run out there for that tie ought to give us some insight into what youngsters are slated to start tomorrow afternoon*