After yesterday's dramatics, Arsenal and Manchester City are through to the last four of the EFL cup, but who'll join them? Chelsea host the Cherries, who'll travel to London fancying their chances given Antonio Conte's penchant for rotaton in this tournament. Likewise, Jose Mourinho won't fancy a trip down to vibrant Ashton Gate, where Lee Johnson's high-flying Robins have already seen off Premier League opposition in Watford, Stoke and Crystal Palace. Will United be their fourth scalp from the top tier?
We take a look at both of tonight's games and suggest a couple of betting tips that could have you sreaming, "Back of the Net!"
CHELSEA 3 V 1 BOURNEMOUTH
Chelsea come into the game in fine form: two wins in their last two games has seen the Blues return to winning ways, with five wins in six games at Stamford Bridge to boot! However, having already bemoaned a hectic festive period the Italian is likely to rest certain players, with the likes of Thibaut Courtois, N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard all facing a drop to the bench. Midfielder Kenedy is likely to be one of those players set to benefit from any changes. The 21-year-old is set to replace suspended Marcos Alonso in what will be his third League Cup start of the season. The Brazilian was accused of fans of being xenophobia and racism during the summer, but Conte seems to be keen to draw a line in the sand: "This is the past. It happened, but we stop. I have to trust my players, not only with words but with facts, to show that I trust them. I want to give my players a big opportunity in a big game to show me they should play.”
Bournemouth are struggling at the moment. They reached the quarter-finals by knocking out Birmingham, Brighton, and Middlesbrough, but are without a win in six, having been comprehensively beaten by Liverpool at the weekend. They’ve lost any sharpness in front of goal, and whilst not prolific scorers that lack of a cutting edge is a real problem for manager Eddie Howe. The front line, in particular, are in the midst of a crisis of confidence. Last season, Jermaine Defoe, Callum Wilson and Josh King were on fire, but with King injured and Wilson carrying a knock they’ll need evergreen Defoe to roll back the years if they’re to get anything from this one.
David Luiz remains absent for Chelsea, whilst Marcos Alonso is suspended after picking up a yellow card in Saturday’s win over Southampton. Morata is a doubt, but we expect him to be rested regardless. Bournemouth are without Adam Fedirici, Tyrone Mings, Brad Smith, and Josh King. As mentioned, Callum Wilson is a doubt.
Possible Chelsea Starting XI:
Caballero; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Zappcosta, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Kenedy; Pedro, Willian; Batshuayi
Possible Bournemouth Starting XI:
Boruc; Francis, Cook, Ake, Smith; Arter, Gosling; Stanislas, Mousset, Fraser; Defoe
What We Sayin’?
The teams met earlier in the season, Chelsea prevailing through a solitary Eden Hazard goal. The Cherries have never won in 15 previous away League Cup games against top-flight opponents (D3 L12) and we can't see that streak ending tonight. Michy Batshuayi has scored five goals in his five appearances in the League Cup and should he, as expected, step-in for Morata then the 12/5 on offer for him to score first appeals. Likewise, Wllian is on fire and we'll have a nibble at 9/5 for him to score anytime. Bournemouth will have a punt at this, so BTTS at 5/6 seems fair, whilst we'll end with our score prediction: Chelsea 3-1 at 17/2.
BRISTOL CITY 1 V 3 MANCHESTER UNITED
Ashton Gate will host this glamour quarter-final tie as mighty Manchester United rock up for the Carabao Cup. However, any notion that the Robins will be happy to have just gotten this far will have to be dispelled quickly as manager Lee Johnson smells blood from a misfiring and strangely stuttering United. Third in the second tier, City are eying promotion to the top tier of English football and will relish this chance to test their mettle against one of the giants of world football. The Robins are flying, with four wins on the bounce, and seven in their last nine outings. Having already ousted Premier League opposition - including Watford, Stoke City and Crystal Palace - from the competition, The Robins will relish this one.
United arrive as the reigning EFL Cup champions and boss Jose Mourinho knows that his side are just three games away from retaining the trophy… and putting one over Manchester City in the process. Whilst the Red Devils are likely to make changes, the appeal of securing silverware will not be lost on Jose, who claims trophies much like others claim dole cheques! With just four defeats in 26 games United are proving just how difficult a side they can be to beat. However, with the league seemingly a foregone conclusion given Manchester City’s dominance this term, United’s focus will need to be changed somewhat. Pogba should feature, if only to boost his fitness levels, whilst forgotten man Henrikh Mkhitaryan might expect a recall. Misfiring striker Lukaku could sit this one out: ne’er mind, that gives Zlatan a chance to shine! Expect rotation, but United will certainly field a strong, strong team. Will it be enough? Time will tell!
One problem for Lee Johnson is the number of players currently injured: Famara Diedhiou, Gary O'Neil, Jens Hegeler, Ivan Lucic, Eros Pisano and Callum O'Dowda are all absent! For United, Antonio Valencia is hamstrung, while Eric Bailly is a long-term absentee.
Bristol City possible starting XI:
Fielding; Wright, Flint, Baker, Magnusson; Brownhill, Pack, Smith, Bryan; Paterson; Reid
Man United possible starting XI:
Romero; Darmian, Smalling, Lindelof, Blind; Pogba, McTominay; Mkhitaryan, Mata, Martial; Ibrahimovic
What we sayin'?
The idea of a cup upset really appeals, but the possibility of this one being just that fades when you realise just how many first-team players The Robins are missing. Even though United will play some fringe players, heir depth of squad is a million miles for that of Bristol City's. Mkhitaryan will have a point to prove and the Armenian is a tasty 5/1. Jesse Lingaard has been on fire and the England winger is 19/4 to net first, and 13/8 to score at anytime. We've a sneaky feeling this could go to extra time and United to Qualify is 1/4. Finally, our score prediction, United to win 1-3 is 10/1.
StanJames' Saucy Scorecast Special!
If you fancy it, a £10 double on our score predictinos: Chelsea to win 3-1, United to win 1-3 currently returns: £1,045.00!
*All prices subject to fluctuation. Make sure to check StanJames.com for up to date prices.
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