Almost seven years to the day since their last League Cup meeting, Manchester United and Chelsea do battle again in the secondary cup competition.
If it’s anything like the last time out, spectators are in for a treat. Chelsea and United served up a classic in what was ultimately one of the most head-scratching round of games in the competition’s history.
As is customary, there were two live games for the round of fixtures and one was unsurprisingly United’s visit to Chelsea. The other was Arsenal’s visit to then Premier League club Reading. The two games contributed 21 goals as Arsenal overcame Reading on a frankly ridiculous 7-5 scoreline and Chelsea narrowly defeat United 5-4.
We can only pray that we get half the excitement this week. Without further ado, here is our prediction’s for Wednesday’s tussle.
Chelsea to win – 5/6
It’s hard to believe that a sizeable amount of people expected Frank Lampard to be out of a job before Christmas following the 4-0 pasting Chelsea received from United on the opening day of the season.
The Blues have miraculously turned their fortunes around in the past weeks and now appear to even have an outside chance of competing for the Premier League title. The London club have won each of their last seven games in all competitions since their defeat to Liverpool and they have done so by playing entertaining and exciting football.
United, meanwhile, have virtually limped from week to week since that opening day victory which now very much appears to have been a false dawn, although shoots of recovery have been visible at Old Trafford since the international break.
The outcome of Wednesday’s game will ultimately come down to team selections and whether Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deem it appropriate to risk key players in the League Cup.
Based on form though, Chelsea should win.
Under 2.5 goals – 17/20
Chelsea may be playing high-octane football, but it is certainly not the case with Manchester United.
United’s 3-1 win over Norwich on Sunday was the first time that they had managed to score more than once in any game since that opening day hammering of Chelsea.
Contrary to popular belief, United’s defence has greatly improved this season with the acquisitions of Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Only the top three and Sheffield United have a better defensive record than the Red Devils in the league and it is up-front where they have fallen down so far this season.
Solskjaer is likely to revert to a back five for Wednesday night’s game and it is hard to believe he will risk Anthony Martial again after just getting him back to full fitness. Martial completely transforms United’s attack and, without him in the side, United look a far inferior side.
Don’t expect another nine-goal thriller.
Callum Hudson-Odoi to score anytime – 7/2
Predicting a team’s starting line up in the League Cup can be dangerous business, but there is a certain level of predictability when two big teams face off.
They might not field full-strength XIs but will at least give a chance to those who are very close to a place in the first team.
One of those players is Callum Hudson-Odoi. The English winger missed out on a starting berth at the weekend but started in each of the last three games prior to that. He started (and scored) against Grimsby Town in the previous round of the League Cup and it stands to reason that he will be picked again on Wednesday.
Christian Pulisic’s hat-trick at Burnley on Saturday night has put pressure on the 18-year-old to perform if he wants to stay in the reckoning for a first-team place.
If United do play with a back five, then their wing-backs will be asked to contribute in attack which could vacate space for the young star.
* All odds correct at time of posting.