All SportPesa’s Football Odds Can be Found Here
This week we will know which four teams will make it through to the semi-finals of this year’s Carabao Cup. Manchester City are looking to win the trophy for the fourth time in five seasons which includes the last two. Pep Guardiola’s side travel to Oxford hoping their dreams of a three-peat remain intact. Liverpool face a tricky tie at Aston Villa as the Reds play two fixtures in two days. Jurgen Klopp has taken the majority of his star players to Qatar as they look to win the FIFA Club World Cup while under-23s coach Neil Critchley will be in charge of a youthful side aiming to reach the semi-finals at Villa’s expense. Charlie Mullan looks at the four quarter-finals and highlights some of the best bets available.
Many people are putting this season down as Pep Guardiola’s last as Manchester City (1/10) manager and if that is the case, he has a massive mountain to climb if his side are to be crowned champions of England for the third season running. The gap between City and league leaders Liverpool stands at 14 which puts greater importance on the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup and the Champions League where they will meet Real Madrid for a place in the quarter-finals. Guardiola has rotated his squad throughout this Carabao Cup run with the likes of Tommy Doyle and Adrian Bernabe getting a run out in City’s 3-1 win over Southampton in the last round.
Both City’s games in this tournament have seen over 2.5 total goals scored and they will be expected to be among the goals again at the Kassam Stadium. City’s last five games have seen at least three match goals scored including their 3-0 win at Arsenal on Sunday. City face an Oxford side (16/1) who have seen a total of 11 goals scored in their four ties to get this far. And let’s not forget, this Oxford side knocked West Ham out following a 4-0 win at the end of September with all four goals coming in the final 35 minutes. Oxford go into the game eighth in League One and promotion to the Championship remains their number one goal.
Liverpool (27/4) fielded a very young side when they played Arsenal at Anfield in the last round with Sepp van den Berg, Neco Williams, Curtis Jones and Pedro Chirivella all getting game time against the Gunners in a remarkable 5-5 draw. Liverpool won on penalties and the valuable minutes spent on the pitch will help the aforementioned youngsters when they travel to face Aston Villa (1/4) at Villa Park. Klopp’s team selection for that 10-goal thriller suggested the Carabao Cup is low on his list of priorities this season, but now they have got this far, why not go all in? And for the players selected to play against Villa, this is a chance for them to play more often for Klopp as the club continue their quest to win the quadruple.
They traveled to Qatar for the FIFA Club World Cup with a 10-point lead in the Premier League after beating Watford 2-0 while their closest rivals Leicester dropped two points in a 1-1 draw at home to Norwich. The Reds’ defense of the Champions League takes them to Madrid where Atletico will be waiting for them in the last 16. They meet Everton in the third round of the FA Cup having beaten them 5-2 in the league recently so everything is looking good for the Reds right now. Villa’s goal is to be in the Premier League next season, but they will fancy their chances of edging closer to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup by beating a youthful Liverpool side on home soil.
In Villa’s last 14 games in all competitions, over 2.5 total goals has occurred in 12 of them while six of their last eight league and cup games have seen goals for both them and their opponents. Liverpool, who have won this competition a record eight times, have kept three clean sheets after a run of 13 games in which BTTS has landed. Ten of the Reds’ last 13 have produced three or more goals and if their last Carabao Cup tie against Arsenal is anything to go by, we could be in for an early Christmas cracker.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s future as Manchester United manager remains open for debate with every league point dropped and on Sunday, a 1-1 draw at home to Everton, did little to secure the Norwegian’s position at the helm of the club. The last thing Solskjaer needs is a banana skin trip to Colchester in the quarter-finals. He’s already had one of those earlier in the Carabao Cup with a home tie against League One side Rochdale which the Red Devils won, but only after a penalty shootout. United (2/17) gave their youngsters a chance in that tie, but at Chelsea in the last round, it was a more senior team that won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge with Marcus Rashford netting twice.
Landing a trophy would certainly help Solskjaer’s cause to extend his stay as United boss, so he may go for experience over youth against the League Two side at Old Trafford. John McGreal’s side have nothing to lose and everyone associated with the club will enjoy their visit to the Theatre of Dreams. If they lose, so what, they were expected to lose. But if they win, then not only will the U’s take their place in the semi-finals, but they will surely also push the United board to make a decision about making a managerial change.
Remember, Colchester (16/1) dumped Crystal Palace and Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side out of the competition on penalties after goalless draws. It was a Spurs side that included Victor Wanyama, Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura with Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-Min coming off the bench. United have been warned. Colchester will be encouraged by the fact that while United have scored in their last nine games, seven of their opponents have found the back of the net also. And in three of Colchester’s last four games, there have been goals for both them and their opposition. Seven of United’s last eight games have seen BTTS land while seven have also seen three or more goals scored.
Everton were 13 minutes away from a rare win at Old Trafford when caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson’s side conceded a long-range strike to Mason Greenwood in a 1-1 draw. Ferguson, who wears his heart on his sleeve, could be the manager Everton and their fans want to replace Marco Silva. A win at home to Leicester to reach the Carabao Cup semi-finals would help his cause as the board continue to weigh up their options as to who their next permanent boss will be. Ferguson has guided Everton to four points from a possible six for only the third time this season. The Toffees will start as underdogs against a Leicester side that has their sights set on finishing second in the Premier League, if they fall short of landing their second Premier League title in five seasons. Dropping two points at home to lowly Norwich hasn’t helped their title hopes but victory in the Carabao Cup will show that Leicester are moving in the right direction under Brendan Rodgers.
The two sides met on December 1 at the King Power Stadium with the Toffees taking the lead midway through the first half. But second half goals from Jamies Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho nudged Marco Silva closer to the exit door. Jamie Vardy has been an unused sub in Leicester’s previous two Carabao Cup ties but the Premier League’s leading scorer did start in the penalty shootout win at Newcastle to get this cup run started. Everton have scored in eight of their last nine with BTTS landing seven times while the Foxes have scored in their last 14 with BTTS occurring three times in their last four games. There is usually very little between these two sides with the last four encounters decided by a single-goal margin with both sides winning twice and this tie could also be decided by a one-goal margin.
Man City to beat Oxford 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 @ 39/20
Both Aston Villa and Liverpool to score @ 20/29
Man United to beat Colchester 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 @ 19/10
Both Everton and Leicester to score @ 2/3