EFL Cup Semi-final first leg preview 2018
Just four teams remain in contention for this season’s first piece of domestic silverware, as the EFL Cup semi-final first legs 2018 take place this week.
Manchester City v Bristol City – First Leg – Tuesday 9th January – 7.45pm.
Manchester City are running away with the Premier League, having won 20 of their 22 league games this season. They are also still in contention for the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup, but their progress in the EFL Cup has been anything but plain sailing.
They only just edged past West Bromwich Albion 2-1, and then needed penalties to see off both Wolves and Leicester City.
Bristol City hammered 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 at Ashton Gate.
An injury time strike from Korey Smith saw the Robins record a famous 2-1 win to take them into the semi-finals and a two-legged tie with Man City.
Although Bristol City have shown they can compete with teams from the top-flight, Man City will be a very different proposition. Pep Guardiola can rotate his squad, but still field a team of international stars.
Despite most first legs being cautious affairs, Man City will look to build up a decent lead to take to Bristol, but changes have seen the Blues look susceptible at the back before now, so it would be no surprise to see Bristol City grab a crucial away goal.
Chelsea v Arsenal – First Leg – Wednesday 10th January, 8pm.
Chelsea have beaten Nottingham Forest, Everton and Bournemouth to reach the last four of the EFL Cup, and are now unbeaten in eight matches in all competitions.
Despite being seven points ahead of Arsenal in the Premier League, they had 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 were dumped out of the FA Cup, losing 4-2 at Nottingham Forest, so will now see the EFL Cup as their best chance of lifting a trophy this year. They have had some tough games, 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 2-2 draw at the Emirates, the two played out a goalless game at Stamford Bridge in September, and Arsenal won the Community Shield on penalties after the game ended 1-1 in August. This is likely to be just as tight, with both sides taking a cautious approach to the first-leg
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