19 Jan Carabao Contests Remain Compelling: Semi-Finals Second Legs
The first legs of the Carabao Cup semi-finals provided enough talking points to make the return games more than just a little interesting. Bristol City’s near miss away at Manchester City and Arsenal and Chelsea’s misfiring contest at Stamford Bridge mean both last four ties have enough juice in them to keep interest amongst speculators.
Both semis potentially could go either way, although the bookmakers have (rightly) maintained Pep Guardiola’s side as the favourites to lift the trophy at the end of next month, at 11/20, with Chelsea 15/4, Arsenal 9/2 and Bristol City 40/1. The anomaly in those odds has to be the Gunners. For all their faults, they have proved in the recent past that they are a more than capable cup side, and look the value to deny Manchester City the first piece of silverware awarded in English football in 2018.
Robins to Rue First Leg Failings
Manchester City are the same price (1/100) to make the final of the Carabao Cup as they are to win the Premier League title, and despite only overcoming Bristol City 2-1, thanks to a very late Sergio Aguero goal in the first leg, it is difficult to argue with the layers assessment. Still, Lee Johnson will have his troops fired up for the return match and will remind them – if they didn’t already need it – that that have already overcome a quartet of top-flight teams en-route to the last four, including Manchester United in the quarter finals.
Manchester City are 1/4 to win the second leg, with Bristol City 19/2 and the draw 24/5. We (successfully) tipped the Robins on the handicap in the first leg, but this time around I think we’ll see a show of strength from the visitors, with the 3/4 on offer about Manchester City giving up 1.5 goals the advised play. I also like over 3.5 goals in the game at 13/10. Three of the Sky Blues last four games ahead of their latest league fixture have produced four of more goals, while Bristol City are without a clean sheet in five games up to their last Championship outing – all of which, incidentally, have seen the Robins finish as the losing side. The win over United has had a detrimental effect on Johnson’s team, as they have struggled to find the net recently and endured a run of scoring just one goal in four games – their worst sequence for two years.
Gunners to Inch Through to Wembley
A fortnight on from the 0-0 draw between Chelsea and Arsenal in the first leg of the Carabao Cup, when the assembled scribes seemed more interested in Arsene Wenger’s presence in the press box than the game itself, the London duo do battle again with a place at Wembley at stake.
The journalists at Emirates for the second leg will no doubt be sharpening their pencils hoping either Wenger or Antonio Conte will provide the opportunity for more corrosive copy. Both haven’t been shy in letting rip at rivals and referees this season, but if the last game between the pair in north London is anything to go by – when they indulged the 60,000 or so inside the stadium to a 2-2 classic – then at least it will be the football making the headlines.
The Blues mustered 21 shots to the Gunners eight in the first leg, and those of a Chelsea persuasion can rightly point to their side being the better team on the night. But Arsenal have been exceptional in front of their own fans over the last 12 months, losing just one of their last 26 home games in all competitions. At 11/5 to win the second leg, they look maximum bet material, especially given Chelsea’s recent attacking woes. The draw is 12/5, while Chelsea are chalked up at 5/4, but neither appeal. I don’t get why Chelsea are as short as 11/20 to make the final, and they must surely be taken on. Six of the last nine home games involving Arsene Wenger’s side have failed to see both teams score, and that’s something that should also be backed at 13/10.