Domestic cup action continues this week as Tottenham take on Chelsea and Manchester City host League One outfit Burton Albion in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-finals.
Much has been spoken of Tottenham’s inability to take the final step and win silverware under Mauricio Pochettino in recent years, who will no doubt see this trophy as a big opportunity to break the duck.
Who will draw first blood? Our football expert previews the best odds for both matches.
Tottenham v Chelsea
Always a feisty encounter given the bad blood between both clubs, the last two meetings have ended in emphatic 3-1 victories for Tottenham, most notably the win at Stamford Bridge last April, with the visitors ending their 28-year wait to record a win on away soil.
Spurs have had less luck in cup ties with Chelsea; in the last three meetings the Blues have scored 11 goals to Tottenham’s three, knocking Spurs out at the FA Cup semi-final stages twice (5-1, 2012; 4-2, 2017), whilst beating them in the League Cup Final in 2015.
It’s a record that spells trouble for Spurs, and silverware could just be the tip of the iceberg for what is at stake for the club should they crash out of the competition over the next two legs. Will Pochettino stay if the club don’t win silverware this season? Which players will leave if he goes?
There have been 51 yellow cards in the last nine meetings in all competitions between the two clubs, with 12 alone coming in the ferocious 2-2 draw at Chelsea in 2016. Pochettino has urged his players to be ’naughty, not nice’ when they need to be this evening, and we see Tottenham over 2.5 cards kindly priced at 9/4 with Grosvenorsport.com.
Manchester City v Burton Albion
We’ve seen a weekend of giant killings in the FA Cup and this would be the icing on the cake if Nigel Clough could oversee a victory for Burton at the Etihad on Wednesday.
The Brewers have taken some impressive scalps on route to the Carabao Cup semi-finals, beating Championship play-off contenders Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough, whilst sending Premier League Burnley packing at the third-round stage.
However, it’s a test they face where few comparisons can be made; Manchester City have lost just two of their last 17 League Cup fixtures spanning the last four seasons, winning two of the last three titles.
Pep Guardiola may opt to field a weakened side, despite making wholesale changes in the 7-0 rout of Rotherham (who sit 12 places above Burton in the English Football League structure).
The picking of personnel is trivial to dwell on as it will likely take a monumental effort for Burton to leave the Etihad with anything other than a defeat, whether they face a full strength starting XI or a second-string outfit.
Raheem Sterling was subbed off for Leroy Sane on 57 minutes at the weekend, suggesting Guardiola had an eye on starting the Englishman from the off in this tie – we predict him to score a brace which you can get at 9/2 with Grosvenorsport.com.
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