Tottenham can take a giant stride towards reaching their ninth League Cup final by beating Chelsea at Wembley on Tuesday in the first leg of their semi-final encounter.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team have defied their critics who suggested a lack of new faces last summer would lead to them stagnating this season.
They have responded in style and are challenging for the Premier League title, have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League and the fourth round of the FA Cup as well as the last four of the League Cup.
Despite a wobble when they lost 3-1 at home to Wolves over the festive period, Spurs have been in great form recently and outclassed Tranmere on Friday in the FA Cup, easing to a 7-0 win against the League Two side at Prenton Park.
Since they last won the League Cup in 2008, when they beat Chelsea 2-1 in the final, they were edged out on penalties by Manchester United 12 months later before being beaten 2-0 by the Blues four years ago.
Morata to score at any time @ 21/10
Chelsea, who have reached seven League Cup finals in their history, winning five of them, have struggled for goals recently although Alvaro Morata did at least return to form at the weekend when he bagged a brace in the 2-0 FA Cup victory against Nottingham Forest.
The 26-year-old Spain international had only scored once in his previous eight games but his confidence should have been buoyed by his return to form on Saturday and he could grab a goal in Tuesday’s London derby.
Spurs outplayed Maurizio Sarri’s team in November when they beat the Blues 3-1 at Wembley. It was Chelsea’s first top-flight defeat of the campaign after they had remained unbeaten in their first 12 encounters and they have never really recovered from that setback.
Sarri’s team have been beaten by Wolves and Leicester City since then and have only managed to score three goals in their last four top-flight matches.
In contrast Spurs have been scoring goals for fun of late and, despite the setback against Wolves, have won six of their last seven Premier League games, scoring 21 goals in the process.
Over 3.5 goals in the match @ 2/1
Until recently Chelsea had the upperhand in games against Spurs, but Pochettino has injected some much-needed steel into his side and they are now more than a match for their London rivals.
There have been plenty of action in recent matches between the two teams with 15 of the last 16 encounters producing at least two goals and that could be the case on Tuesday with Spurs eventually winning out.
A repeat of the 3-1 scoreline when the two teams met in November could be the outcome again this week. Spurs are 15/1 to beat Chelsea 3-1 with Dele Alli, who has an outstanding scoring record against last term’s FA Cup winners, available at 17/2 to score the first goal.
Manchester City to win 3-0 @ 5/1
It appears to be almost impossible for David to slay Goliath when Burton Albion take on Manchester City on Wednesday.
Pep Guardiola’s team have recovered from a disappointing spell to record three victories in a row – against Southampton and Liverpool in the league – and a 7-0 thrashing of Rotherham United in the FA Cup on Sunday.
The Brewers currently occupy a mid-table spot in League One after being relegated last term but there are a few rays of light for Nigel Clough’s team even though beating City over two legs will surely be impossible.
Burton to be the last team to score @ 13/2
Guardiola seems certain to name a much-changed line-up for the game, particularly as City are still chasing glory on four fronts, so Burton could take advantage of some over-confidence by scoring the last goal in the first leg – even if it is only a consolation effort.
Last season’s Premier League and League Cup winners do have a tendency to struggle against teams from outside the Premier League and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Wigan Athletic last season.
In the 2017/18 League Cup they needed penalties to see off then Championship team Wolves in the fourth round and were troubled by Bristol City in the semi-finals before eventually sealing a 5-3 aggregate success.
Burton have done brilliantly to reach the semi-finals – this is a club who were still playing non-league football a decade ago and whose Pirelli Stadium capacity is currently less than 7,000.
They spent two seasons in the Championship before last term’s relegation and are still arguably punching above their weight in League One.
They have knocked Aston Villa, Burnley, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough out of this season’s League Cup but have been poor on their travels in League One this term and have lost seven of their 13 away matches.
They are unbeaten in their last four games though and recorded an excellent 4-0 victory against Rochdale at Spotland on Saturday – the perfect way to warm up for a trip to the Etihad.
Bernardo Silva to score the first goal @ 6/1
Clough will no doubt prime his players for a damage-limitation exercise but it is difficult to see how a mid-table third tier side can frustrate this talented City side.
Guardiola’s team have scored a staggering 37 goals in their 11 home league games this season, 10 more than leaders Liverpool have managed at Anfield to date, and dismantled Rotherham in such a way on Sunday that you fear for Clough’s side.
With Guardiola set to rotate his players it may be worth looking at the likes of Phil Foden (8/1), Ilkay Gundogan (11/1) and Kyle Walker (28/1) in the first goalscorer market while a draw at half time and a City victory after 90 minutes is worth considering at 33/10 if the home side take a while to get into their stride.