Manchester United v Manchester City
Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, 8pm 7th January
“We’re going to put a strong team out,” claimed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, ahead of Tuesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against their cross-town rivals. The question is, though, does he have one?
Sure, he masterminded a win at the Etihad a month ago but Manchester United’s form has been wildly inconsistent since, so much so that Solskjaer’s appearance on the December Manager of the Month shortlist seems absurd. That win at Manchester City came after a victory against Spurs but was followed by seven points from their next five Premier League games.
Pep Guardiola’s side, meanwhile, bounced back from that Manchester derby defeat with four wins from five, the outlier being that pulsating defeat at Wolves. The Spaniard this week conceded that the League Cup “isn’t the greatest competition in the world” but he’ll be aiming to make it three titles in a row in this competition.
Their meeting in December ended 1-2 and Over 2.5 Goals looks a no-brainer here at 4/6. Likewise, both teams to score has clicked in four of their last five clashes and should be given serious consideration at around 7/10.
Guardiola does tend to respect this competition and fields relatively strong starting elevens. As such, we’re going with an away win and both teams to score here at a best price of 9/4 with Bet365.
United have scored a penalty in two of their last three meetings with City and have been awarded more spot kicks than any other Premier League side this season. City are amongst those tied for second in that particular ranking. A penalty to be awarded in this one is 39/20. Should United get one, it will more than likely fall to Marcus Rashford to convert it. He’s 49/20 to score at anytime at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.
Leicester City v Aston Villa
Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, 8pm 8th January
It’s no surprise to learn that Leicester City have the upper hand over Aston Villa in recent years. The 2015/16 Premier League champions have met the Villains five times since early 2015, winning three and drawing another. The only defeat came in an FA Cup 5th round clash, which may give the visitors some belief here.
Those five meetings have seen sixteen goals and we fancy a few more on Wednesday night. The Foxes hammered Dean Smith’s men 4-1 at Villa Park just a month ago and a repeat of that scoreline is a very tasty 19/1. Brendan Rodgers’ side have been beaten twice since but, in fairness, those reversals did come against Liverpool and Manchester City.
A home win and both teams to score doesn’t look too enticing at around 7/4 but we do like the look of a Leicester win and Over 3.5 Goals at 21/10.
Jamie Vardy was a thorn in Villa’s side last month, grabbing a brace, and he should return from injury for their semi-final first leg. It’s difficult to look past the Premier League top scorer to get another at the King Power on Wednesday at 8/15, while he’s 11/5 to break the deadlock as he did in December.