The first legs of the Carabao Cup semi-finals take pride of place among the midweek football on TV as Middlesbrough host Chelsea on Tuesday before Fulham travel to Liverpool a day later.
Our EFL Cup predictions have two bets to brighten up a dour coming together on Wearside and a brace more to compliment what should be a more entertaining affair at Anfield.
Carabao Cup Semis Tips
Bet on the latest EFL Cup odds at Betzone
Low-scoring fare the order of the season at the Riverside
Chelsea’s visit to Championship Middlesbrough looks great value to fall short of the 2.5 goals line in the sides’ semi-final first leg at 6/4, with the hosts’ home games routinely low on goals and the visitors on a poor run of road form.
Boro have scored 14 times and conceded the same mount in 13 league games at the Riverside this season and 10 of their 14 home outings in all competitions have produced two goals or fewer. Villa needed an 87th minute winner to break the deadlock in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Chelsea are 8/15 favourites for victory on Teesside, but they’ve lost four of their last five on the road, scoring once or less in all bar one of the quintet.
Boro can frustrate Blues until into the second half
Mauricio Pochettino’s side are prohibitively priced at 8/15 for victory but there could be value in backing them to get their noses in front after the interval. The half time draw, full-time Chelsea double result is currently trading at 7/2.
As mentioned previously Boro kept Villa at bay until three minutes from the end of regulation time at the weekend and they’ve been level or ahead in 10 of their 13 home league games in 2023/24.
Chelsea are even more familiar with half-time parity – 15 of their 20 Premier League games this season have gone into the break with honours even.
Liverpool will win but are unlikely to blank the Cottagers
Fulham pushed Liverpool all the way at Anfield in early December, with the Reds needing two goals in the last five minutes to claw their way to a 4-3 victory. Another home win with both sheets sullied looks a solid way to play this EFL Cup last four first-leg encounter at 6/4.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are unbeaten in 15 home games across all competitions this season, winning all bar two of them. Meanwhile the Cottagers have lost four of their last five away games in all competitions, but they’ve netted away to Arsenal, Man City, Villa and the Reds already this season.
Liverpool have shipped at least once in four of their last five home games amidst a defensive injury crisis that leaves them without Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip, Andrew Roberston and Kostas Tsimikas.
Fulham destroyer almost certain to throw caution to the wind
Joao Palhinha has every chance of beating the impressive tally of 14 EPL yellow cards he accumulated last season. The Portuguese defensive midfielder currently has eight to his name and looks priced to pick up another in EFL Cup action here at 15/8.
Having played a total of 20 games for Fulham this term he’s not far off a caution every other game and the Cottagers don’t play a team as good as Liverpool every other game.
The first-leg goal for his side must be to get back to Craven Cottage with something to play for. That dynamic is perfect for generating the kind of situation in which Palhinha is inclined to take one for the team.