Angry Fergie cracks whip for City clash

LONDON - After Manchester United's shocking loss at home to Leeds in the FA Cup, manager Alex Ferguson is out to avoid another embarrassing defeat when they meet neighbours Manchester City in a League Cup semifinal tomorrow.

LONDON - After Manchester United's shocking loss at home to Leeds in the FA Cup, manager Alex Ferguson is out to avoid another embarrassing defeat when they meet neighbours Manchester City in a League Cup semifinal tomorrow.

Ferguson is also set to drop some of his underperforming stars.

The United manager was angry that his team did not match the work rate or fighting spirit of third-tier Leeds at Old Trafford on Sunday when United lost 1-0.

"You have to bounce back, get it out of your system," said Ferguson, who now comes up against new City manager Roberto Mancini at the City of Manchester Stadium in the first leg semifinal tomorrow. "We have a semifinal on Wednesday now and a lot of these players won't be playing. I had the team in mind but there may be changes now, I was shocked by the performance."

It was the first time since 1984 - two years before Ferguson arrived at the club - that United had gone out of the competition so early.

Ferguson will be able to recall the likes of Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes to the starting line-up. But City have a chance to take advantage of their neighbours' defensive frailties to open up a healthy lead in the first leg before they meet again at Old Trafford on January 19.

In today's semifinal, Blackburn host Aston Villa in a repeat of Saturday's FA Cup meeting, which Villa won 3-1.

Villa have won the League Cup five times - second only to Liverpool's seven - and look strong enough to handle Blackburn again over two legs.

Blackburn will also be without striker El-Hadji Diouf, who was sent off in Saturday's game for an ugly foul on Senegalese countryman Habib Beye, but Brett Emerton could return from injury.

In Premier League action, Stoke host Fulham today and Arsenal aim to leapfrog Manchester United and move within a point of leaders Chelsea by beating Bolton tomorrow. - Sapa-AP

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