The League Cup might be the lowest priority for every top-flight club at the start of the season, but as the quarterfinals loom into view, the shimmer of silverware starts to sparkle a little brighter for the last eight in the competition.
The first cup of the campaign to be awarded gets serious for the sides who remain in it this week, with a late February Wembley date already pencilled in the diary for the major contenders.
Dan Roebuck, football betting expert, chats through this one…
Four of the top five in the Premier League are still in with a shout of playing under the iconic arch early next year, something that the much-maligned sponsors will no doubt be very happy about – you never know, they might even be able to organise the semi-final draw without incident (I’ll lay you a big price they don’t – Ed).
This midweek offers the chance to both of the Manchester clubs to advance to last four, something the odds-makers believe is almost a certainty.
City to Justify Jollies Tag
Manchester City, 9/4 favourites in the outright market for the Carabao Cup, have swept all before them in the Premier League, but their progression in this competition hasn’t been without alarm.
Pep Guardiola’s side failed to land odds of 1/10 to defeat Wolves in 90 minutes in the previous round, despite fielding a strong starting line-up that featured Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus up front.
City needed penalties to overcome the Championship club so It would be understandable if punters didn’t rush to take the 2/5 available for them defeating Leicester in regulation play at the King Power.
This team! 🙌🏼🦈 pic.twitter.com/uabrRUfg66
— Kevin De Bruyne (@DeBruyneKev) December 17, 2017
Claude Puel’s side are 13/2, with the draw 19/5, and if it wasn’t for the Foxes 3-0 home reverse at the hands of Crystal Palace at the weekend you could have perhaps made a case for an upset.
The hosts spurned the opportunity to win a fifth league game on the spin on Saturday to halt all momentum going into this fixture.
City are 1/5 to progress by one way or another, and even with a mix and match line up, they will surely be too good for Leicester.
Six of the last seven fixtures featuring the league leaders have seen both teams score, which seems a fair bet here at 10/13, while Bernardo Silva should get a rare start for City and the Portuguese is a decent price at 7/1 to score the first goal and 47/20 to net at any time.
Robins Ready to Test United
The last time Manchester United travelled to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City was back in October 1979, when a David Rogers goal seven minutes before half-time cancelled out Lou Macari’s opener for the visitors.
The point for both sides in that top division clash did little for their respective campaigns, as the Robins were relegated and the Red Devils were denied the title by Liverpool.
Fast forward a generation and the pair face each other again, this time in the Carabao Cup, which oddly could be more of a distraction for the hosts than Jose Mourinho’s men.
Lee Johnson’s side are third in the Championship and obviously list promotion to the Premier League as a priority – they trade at 2/1 to go up. But given the occasion, there is no way a second string starting line-up will be sent out as City look to defy odds of 8/1 – United are 33/100, with the draw 17/4.
“Nobody was happier than me.”
Jose Mourinho reflects on #MUFC‘s performance and win over West Brom ➡ https://t.co/omJEXYlc14 pic.twitter.com/rxstJQeprl
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 17, 2017
The hosts have won their last four in the league and have lost only twice at home since February. They have already knocked out top division clubs in the shape of Watford and Stoke this term, and with Bobby Reid starting to fulfil his potential this season with 10 league goals – the locally born player is 12/1 to net the opener and 22/5 to score at any time – it is difficult to completely rule out a shock.
United are 3/1 joint second favourites to win this competition and just 1/7 to make the semi-finals.
Given Mourinho has targeted this trophy previously (he’s hoping for a fourth success in it), the visitors should include enough quality in their squad to overcome Bristol City, but the 22/25 about the Robins with a 1.5 goal start appeals, with a 2-1 away win, at 15/2, perhaps the best correct score option.
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