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Carabao Cup: Quarter-Finals Preview

Gabriel Martinelli

The Carabao Cup quarter finals are upon us! Eight teams remain and the city of Manchester is nowhere to be found, both United and City have been knocked out, and the four-time defending-champions are unable to make it a fifth straight title defence.

Four midweek scorchers bless our screens before Christmas with Arsenal getting the luck of the draw on paper, while two London derbies take place and, Liverpool, who’ve been ‘unbeatables’ at Anfield host a resurging Leicester City.

Who will qualify for the semis? Let’s take a deeper look and find out who we’re tipping to make some money.

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Tuesday 21 December

Arsenal 2/9
Draw 52/10
Sunderland 10/1
(21:45)

Arsenal’s rough start to the season has come to an abrupt stop. A run of three successive league wins and the Mikel Arteta’s young guns seek a step further in the league cup. The Carabao Cup victories have been near perfect for the Gunners. An emphatic 0-6 away drumming of West Brom, a comprehensive 3-0 victory over AFC Wimbledon and a second half performance worthy of the 2-0 victory over Leeds.

Arteta knows that his Arsenal team do not have much competition to play this season and the league cup has been the place for squad rotation, keeping the rest of the team playing competitively. Rob Holding has been the only player to start all three fixtures for Arsenal in the league cup. Having won the EFL Cup just twice compared to 14 FA Cup victories, Arsenal surely want to capitalize on their fortunate draw of the only non-Premier League side in the quarters-finals.

Sunderland currently sit third on the English League One table after 22 fixtures played and will be confident coming into their cup tie with Arsenal unbeaten in their last seven league ties. In the first two League Cup fixtures The Black Cats struggled to keep clean sheets in their first two matches, but got the job done against Port Vale and Blackpool followed by a more confident result away at Wigan Athletic winning by two goals to nil and finally a tough game against Queens Park Rangers winning via penalties.

Sunderland have done well to avoid top-flight competition, but the journey thus far has been a tiresome one and it’s only going to be that much more difficult come their trip to the Emirates. The trip to London will only become more challenging without seven first team players, but more namely full back Dennis Cerkin, defensive midfielder Luke O’Nien and Aiden McGeady who has made 16 appearances this season scoring three goals and assisting four.

While any game at this stage of the competition is tough, of all the League Cup fixtures taking place Arsenal are the shortest favourites and rightly so. Bet on Arsenal To Win Both Halves at 11/20, or Score In Both Halves at 8/10.

Mikel Arteta

Wednesday 22 December

Tottenham 13/10
Draw 23/10
West Ham United 2/1
(21:45)

Tottenham are on the back of a great Premier League performance against title-challengers Liverpool and confidence will be running high. The Spurs camp have found form and more importantly structure under Antonio Conte, in the fixture against Liverpool their set up out of possession is rigid with their counter transition looking as lethal as ever. Spurs have played both their cup fixtures away from home in a tough 2-2 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers taking the fixture on penalties followed by another hard fought 0-1 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor.

After a difficult couple of weeks with postponed games, Tottenham seem back up and running and ready for the next challenge and an even bigger boost will be the fact that Harry Kane has decided to put his scoring boots back on finishing a lovely, worked goal against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds.

The Hammers’ tough run will continue when they travel to The THFC stadium. West Ham have been in poor form in all competitions recently winning just one of their last five with that being their 3-2 victory over Chelsea, which in all honesty was a stolen three points.

With West Ham guided by David Moyes there is always hope though, showing a consistent fight in the team. West Ham are set to have a fully fit squad (bar new-signing Kurt Zouma) for the London derby tie with Spurs. A moment to bounce back is now for Moyes and the boys and they have the quality to do so under his watchful eye.

A big task lies ahead for the Hammers, but a seemingly revitalized Spurs under Conte is where my money is going, and I feel they will do so within 90 minutes.

Antonio Conte and Harry Kane

Brentford 39/10
Draw 26/10
Chelsea 15/20
(21:45)

Brentford have been the standout promoted team in the Premier League this season and a good cup run is evident of their team cohesion. A confident start to their EFL campaign with win over Forest Green Rovers (3-10), backed up by an absolute masterclass over Oldham Athletic (7-0), and showing they can do it on a cold, wet night in Stoke City (1-2). A recent injury crisis has however fallen upon the Bees, that has taken a toll on their performances of late.

Not to mention Covid-19 issues that all clubs have been affected by, some more aggressively than others. When Brentford took on Chelsea at home in the league, they were unlucky not to get a result. Tomas Tuchel’s team will be the biggest test in their cup run and a victory over the Blues would mean a second successive semi-final for their Bees after having never reached the semi-finals in their 60 years in the competition.

It has been less than a week since Chelsea asked for their Premier League fixture to be postponed and now, they make a short trip West along the River Thames to Brentford Community Stadium. Injury has plagued the Blues along with Covid taking out all their forwards. A blistering almost unbeatable start to their season has taken somewhat of a nosedive, winning just one in their last five fixtures in all competitions.

Chelsea’s EFL cup run has seen the squad rotation in full effect, so a depleted team to take on Brentford should be the least of Chelsea’s worries at this point. The two victories in the Carabao Cup were both via penalties (beating Aston Villa and Southampton) and that will prove key to have that in the back of your mind.

Although both teams have been through the wars and are injury-laden we are in for a humdinger, Chelsea will progress, but it won’t be an easy task, my money is on Draw & Both Teams To Score (Yes) at 4/1.

Chelsea

Liverpool 13/20
Draw 3/1
Leicester City 37/10
(21:45)

Jurgen Klopp has been in the media blasting the FA over fixture congestion and lambasting referee Paul Tierney after Liverpool’s 2-2 draw at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Despite holding the most medals for the EFL Cup, under Klopp, The Reds have yet to reach the final since his first season in charge as well as not reaching the semi-finals since 2016-17.

Despite all the negativity surrounding Liverpool right now, they are still one of the best teams in the league and in the world right now playing some of the most attractive, fast-paced attacking football out there. With many players unavailable for Liverpool, as most teams are struggling, Klopp normally plays the youth in the League Cup coupled with fringe players, so the concern from his point of view should not be too much.

Brendan Rodgers returns to Anfield again, and not in the best of shape with his Leicester team. While the Foxes most recent fixture with Liverpool ended with their hands raised in the EPL, trips to Anfield have not been pleasant over the past two decades with eight losses and one draw last winning in May 2000.

Rodgers has managed three wins in their last six, but the positive will have to be the fact that they have found the net in each. James Maddison is back in form, as well as Youri Tielemans back in the squad, but the backline is in danger with Caglar Sonyuncu, Jonny Evans and Wesley Fofana’s continued absence means a slapdash backline.

The level of uncertainty is as high as every other fixture, but the level of importance Klopp has placed importance on the EFL Cup is as sure as ever. After winning the FA Cup last year, and Premier League seasons before, a win in the EFL is like gold for Leicester City. Back The Foxes to take the victory here.

Youri Tielemans and Brendan Rodgers

MULTIPLE @ 96/1
Arsenal To Score In Both Halves (Yes) 8/10
Tottenham Win 13/10
Brentford/Chelsea: Draw & BTTS (Yes) 4/1
Leicester City Win 37/10

Written by Joshua Gaillard