Manchester City v Bristol City
First Leg - Tuesday 9th January, 7.45pm
Manchester City are the runaway Premier League leaders, having won 20 of their 22 matches this season, while they are also still in contention for UEFA Champions League and FA Cup glory. However, their progress in the EFL Cup has been anything but serene, as they only just edged out West Bromwich Albion 2-1 and then needed penalties to beat both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City.
Bristol City thrashed Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in round one, before beating Premier League teams Watford, Stoke City and Crystal Palace to set up a quarter-final against Manchester United, where Korey Smith’s injury-time strike sealed a famous 2-1 upset. They have also impressed in the Championship this season, although back-to-back losses against Wolves and Aston Villa have halted their momentum.
Bristol City have certainly shown they are capable of competing with top-flight teams, but Man City are a very different proposition. Pep Guardiola has such a luxury of riches at his disposal that he is able to rotate his squad and still field a team of international stars, but they can be vulnerable in defence when changes are made. While most first legs are cautious affairs, Man City are sure to be as positive as usual and that could open the door for Bristol City to grab a crucial away goal.
Sports.net’s Top Tip
Man City to win and both teams to score
Chelsea v Arsenal
First Leg - Wednesday 10th January, 8pm
Chelsea have seen off Nottingham Forest, Everton and Bournemouth to reach the last four, and are unbeaten in eight matches in all competitions. They are seven points ahead of Arsenal in the Premier League, but did have to settle for a 2-2 draw with the Gunners just last week after Hector Bellerin’s injury-time equaliser at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal may have had late cause to celebrate against Chelsea in the league, but they were left despondent on Sunday as a 4-2 loss to Nottingham Forest ended their FA Cup defence in the third round. They have also been made to work in the EFL Cup, scraping past Doncaster Rovers, Norwich City and West Ham United to make the semi-finals.
There has been little to choose between the teams this season. As well as the recent draw at the Emirates, they played out a goalless stalemate at Stamford Bridge in September and Arsenal won the Community Shield on penalties after the game ended 1-1. Neither team will want to take too many risks in the first leg, and the tie might not properly open up until the return match.
Sports.net’s Top Tip
Total Goals - Under 1.5
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.