Aren’t Thursdays exclusively reserved for Arsenal? Sorry, I had to.
With Liverpool’s mammoth clash with Lincoln already taken care of, we can focus on the other two games ahead of us, and they’re more evenly-matched than you might come to expect at this stage of the competition.
Bristol City are one of those clubs that seem to be doing everything well and are probably an outfit many would like to see in the Premier League.
They’re from a big city, they’ve got a consistent fanbase for home games, an actual blueprint on how to play – they’ve just been stung time and time again by one thing or another.
In many ways, they’re a bit like Villa in that they’ve a genuine derby – when it comes around – that loses out to the billionaire bashes of the Merseyside and Manchester derbies, as well as playing at a fairly similar level to them.
For Man City and Bournemouth – well, we’ve seen the clash enough times to know the story there. City have never lost to the Cherries in their history, but their recent meetings in the Premier League have seen Bournemouth usually lose by the odd goal or at least score.
That’s against full City teams, too. With their second string likely wheeled out here – who knows? Here’s a tasty double to steer you towards the weekend.
Maybe last year Villa would have used this a springboard for their league form as an ominous season battling the drop was firmly on the cards.
Instead of needing the League Cup as a distraction, Villa will focus solely on league form and believe that, led by Ollie Watkins, they can climb into the top half this year, despite needing a goal-line technology gaffe to keep them in the division in the first place.
But now, their sights are raised to re-establishing themselves as a dignified member of the top tier once again, providing a much-needed representative from Birmingham – the nation’s second city.
This tie should prove tough for Villa, especially as it isn’t your typical side-from-the-division-below approach of battering them with long balls. Bristol City are poised and very good on the ball, meaning Villa need to switch on.
And by regulation or extras, they’ll be knocked out by a side who want to be in the competition as Bristol City qualify here.
City aren’t quite up to the speed of the rest of their Premier League counterparts just yet, and if they’re to make changes to that group already, I’d imagine it comes across as quite fragmented.
Bournemouth have learned to grow up following their relegation, and Jason Tindall knows that the Cherries can’t approach things like Eddie Howe envisioned if they want to be successful long-term.
They simply don’t have the financial muscle, nor the stadium to generate revenue to subsidise a radical change in quality.
So, with them now more conservative, I wonder if City will manage the adjustment? They will, but it could take them some time – and time costs goals. I love the value of this Under 1.5 Goals selection in a game that nobody really wants to play in.
These two selections in a double will give you odds of around 11/1 with Paddy Power.
Our double for Thursday’s Carabao Cup clashes
*All odds correct at time of publication*
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