EFL Cup Semi-Final Tipsheet: Who will take advantage in the first leg

By James Cantrill

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8 January 2024

The first instalment of the League Cup semi-finals takes centre stage this week featuring three from the top and one from the middle. Chelsea head to the Riverside to take on Championship side Middlesbrough on Tuesday then there is an all Premier League affair on Wednesday featuring Liverpool and Fulham. We have you covered with a bet from each fixture. 

Middlesbrough vs Chelsea 

Kick-off: 20:00 Tuesday, Sky Sports

Middlesbrough fell at the first hurdle in the FA Cup on Saturday evening. Michael Carrick’s strong side gave a great account of themselves against Premier League title challengers Aston Villa. The top flight side were forced to call upon their big hitters with game heading to a replay and needed a huge slice of fortune as Matty Cash’s late effort from range took a deflection to win it for the visitors. 

The Teesiders will draw great encouragement from that resilient display though as they look to emulate it on Tuesday when Chelsea come to town. Stopper Tom Glover won man of the match against Villa making five saves but the entire Boro side deserves plaudits for their defensive work as they limited a side that has found the net 57 times to a fortuitous goal. 

I see no reason why Carrick's side cannot frustrate Chelsea which is why siding with under 2.5 goals appeals. Recent history is certainly on our side, this bet has clicked in seven of the 10 League Cup semi’s first leg games as the dynamic of the tie often leads to cagey first encounters. 

That is not to say Chelsea don’t have the quality to cause some damage at the Riverside. The Blues emphatic win over Preston threatens to change the complexion of their campaign entirely. The possibility of a domestic cup double would paper over their timid top flight campaign. I just do not think they will have it all their own way on Tuesday. 

Prediction: Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.42

Liverpool vs Fulham

Kick-off: 20:00 Wednesday, Sky Sports

It was a different type of Liverpool display at the Emirates on Sunday where the Reds beat Arsenal 2-0 to secure their spot in the FA Cup fourth round. Jurgen Klopp’s swashbuckling side were a little less chaotic then we have become accustomed to. That is not to say they did not ride their luck, the Gunners certainly had the better chances but a plucky smash and grab gives us a taste of how the Mersysiders are going to cope without their talisman Mohamed Salah. 

One man that will have to step up to the plate in his team mates absence is Darwin Nunez. The frontman has threatened to come good on his goals return since his move from the continent and whilst his unpredictable nature gives the Reds attack a certain edge, his charitable finishing is becoming a bit tiresome. 

Nunez has missed 26 ‘big chances’ (xG greater than 0.30) but still boasts a goal per 90 of 0.41 in all competitions this term. He may miss a few sitters but don’t let that shroud the fact he has scored 23 goals in 73 appearances for Liverpool. His price to score anytime appeals on Wednesday. 

Prediction: Darwin Nunez Anytime Goalscorer @ 2.04

Recommended Bets

Back Under 2.5 Goals in Middlesbrough vs Chelsea @ 2.42
Back  Darwin Nunez Anytime Goalscorer @ 2.04

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