The Carabao Cup returns to our screens this week. The first legs seem a distant memory amidst the transfer window chaos, don’t they? Well, even so, this is a significant few days for all four of the clubs involved as they could book themselves the first competitive Wembley date of the season.
So, we are here to pick through the betting markets for the two fixtures and find some value.
Bristol City vs Manchester City
Manchester City were given one of their toughest evenings of the season against Bristol City at the Etihad Stadium. Such is the chasm in quality, though, the Championship side eventually fell to a 2-1 defeat thanks to a Sergio Aguero winner. That wiped out any intrigue from this second leg, unfortunately.
Lee Johnson’s team have been superb this season, and played with an exciting, ambitious press in Manchester. They have little choice but to take a similar approach into the second leg. Their fans will make it quite an experience for City’s stars under the lights, and no doubt fire up the home players in the process.
Form is not on the side of the hosts for this one, mind. Their record in the Championship recently has been poor, seeing them take just one point from their last four in the league. A speck of positivity can be found, though, that the point was gained in their last outing.
The Robins will up their game for this one, however. That’s what happens in cup ties like these, and that’s why we will all sit their gorping at our screens hoping for an upset.
Manchester City, meanwhile, will need to either put in a disastrous performance or be ludicrously unlucky not to win this. I fear they could win pretty handsomely, too. Pep Guardiola’s side were not their brilliant best against Newcastle, but they will not need to be to beat Bristol City.
As the home side chase the game we may well see goals at both ends, so at least this could be entertaining.
TIP: Over 3.5 goals @ 13/10
Arsenal vs Chelsea
Arsenal and Chelsea ended poor runs of form at the weekend. The Gunners have slipped way off top four pace, and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest, while Antonio Conte’s side had gone winless since the turn of the year, including being taken to a replay and extra time by Norwich.
Chelsea kicked off the Premier League weekend by thrashing Brighton, with Eden Hazard and Willian tearing the out-of-form Seagulls apart. An hour or so later, Arsenal raced to an early 4-0 lead as they cruised past Crystal Palace.
Both teams needed those results. It sets this semi-final second leg up beautifully after the 0-0 at Stamford Bridge.
It was a turgid affair in west London. We can expect something altogether more expansive at the Emirates, largely because neither team – particularly a depleted Chelsea – will be all that keen on an extra 30 minutes.
This is a tricky one to call, so I am going to edge away from any match result betting. Chelsea at 6/5 is the way to go if that’s what you fancy, though.
If Hazard and Willian or Pedro – who returns from suspension – can repeat their Amex Stadium display then Chelsea will book themselves an afternoon with Pep Guardiola at Wembley. I think the Blues will just make it through, but I prefer the over 2.5 bet in a tie as closely-fought as this one.
TIP: Over 2.5 goals @ 17/10
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*