Carabao Cup Semi Final 1st Leg Preview And Tips

This week sees the Carabao Cup, or Football League Cup, semi-final first leg ties being played, both of which will take place in London across Wednesday and Thursday evenings this week.

First up we have a potentially exciting London derby game between Chelsea and Tottenham and this is followed on Thursday by another stellar semifinal as Arsenal take on what is likely to be a much-changed Liverpool at the Emirates.

There had been a move to try and get rid of the two-legged ties in the Carabao Cup Semi Final but the Football League resisted the change and the teams will now meet this week and next week to decide who will contest February’s final.

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Let’s now take a look at both semi-final first leg ties taking place this week starting with the game on Wednesday night between two fierce London rivals. Both ties this week will kick off at 7.45pm each evening.

Carabao Cup Semi Finals 1st Leg

Wednesday 5th January

Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur


  • Manager – Thomas Tuchel
  • Carabao Cup Wins – 5 – 1965, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2017

Alongside their five wins in this competition, Chelsea have finished as runners up on three occasions, 1972, 2008 and most recently in 2019. They are he fifth most successful team in the competition’s history.

Chelsea’s Road To The Semis

  • Second Round – Bye
  • Third Round – V Aston Villa (H) – D 1-1 (Werner 54), Won 4-3 on penalties
  • Fourth Round – V Southampton (H) – D 1-1 (Havertz 44), Won 4-3 on penalties
  • Quarter Final – V Brentford (A) W 2-0 (Janssen OG 80, Jorginho 85 (pen)).

Chelsea Team News

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel will be missing Edouard Mendy, who has jetted off to the African Cup of Nations, plus injured duo Ben Chilwell and Reece James. Timo Werner is also likely to be out as he is still recovering from Covid.

Romelu Lukaku’s situation doesn’t make this an easy team to predict for Chelsea but with striking options limited, I think Lukaku may be on the bench here, with Havertz likely to retain his spot as a false nine.

I can see Tuchel making changes in midfield with Saul or perhaps Ross Barkley coming in, but given this is a semifinal against a strong Spurs side, I can’t see Tuchel making too many changes here.

Chelsea Possible XI: – (3-4-2-1) – Kepa, Chalobah, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Kovacic, Saul, Alonso, Pulisic, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Havertz

Tottenham Hotspur

  • Manager – Antonio Conte
  • Carabao Cup Wins – 4 – 1971, 1973, 1999, 2008

Tottenham have been runners up in this competition on five occasions, in 1982, 2002, 2009, 2015 and last year in 2021. They are the sixth most successful team in EFL Cup history.

Tottenham’s Road To The Semis

  • Second Round – Bye
  • Third Round – V Wolves (A) – D 2-2 (Ndombele 14, Kane 23), Won 3-2 on penalties
  • Fourth Round – V Burnley (A) W 1-0 (Moura 68)
  • Quarter Final – V West Ham (H) – W 2-1 (Bergwijn 29, Moura 34)

Tottenham Team News

Tottenham are set to be without Ryan Sessegnon, Steven Bergwijn and Cristian Romero for this game. That means Joe Rodon could get a start in defence with Oliver Skipp coming into midfield.

Conte could opt to give Dele Alli or Giovani Lo Celso a run out and Bryan Gil could start in attack but given the calibre of opponent, I can see Conte going with his most in form striking trio here.

However, Spurs are awaiting PCR results on two players who tested positive for Covid-19 and that could influence who eventually plays in the game.

Tottenham Hotspur Possible XI: – (3-4-3) – Lloris, Rodon Sanchez, Davies, Royal, Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Skipp, Lucas Moura, Son, Kane

Chelsea V Tottenham Tips

This looks like being a very competitive game and  I think it will be as competitive and hard fought as a Premier League match between the pair. Both sides have drawn a number of games of late which does tend to make me think that is the result likely to happen here.

The draw is 5/2 with bet365 Sport and that is a solid option, but for a Correct Score bet, a 1-1 draw is 11/2 which offers even greater value in my view.

Thursday 6th January

Arsenal v Liverpool


  • Manager – Mikel Arteta
  • Carabao Cup Wins – 2 – 1987, 1993

Arsenal have lost six other Football League Cup finals in their history, losing in 1968, 1969, 1988, 2007, 2011 and 2018. They are the 9th most successful team in the tournament’s history.

Arsenal’s Road To The Semis

  • Second Round – V WBA (A) – W 6-0 (Aubameyang 17,45,62, Pepe 45, Saka 50, Lacazette 69)
  • Third Round – V AFC Wimbledon (H) – W 3-0 (Lacazette 11 (pen), Smith Rowe 77, Nketiah 80)
  • Fourth Round – V Leeds United (H) – W 2-0 (Chambers 55, Nketiah 69)
  • Quarter Final – V Sunderland (H) – W 5-1 (Nketiah 17,49,58, Pepe 27, Patino 90)

Arsenal Team News

With Thomas Partey on his way to the African Cup of Nations, the Gunners will have to make changes to their team for their first leg tie with Liverpool.

Mikel Arteta has used this competition to give a number of fringe players game time and while I expect that to continue here, I think he will pick a very strong side in general, with perhaps just one or two players rested.

I expect Leno, Cedric, Smith-Rowe and perhaps Nketiah to start, while Gabriel may also start due to the fact he will be suspended in the league next time Arsenal play. Other than that, I envisage Arsenal being almost at full strength.

Arsenal Possible XI: – (3-4-2-1) – Leno, Cedric, Tierney, White, Gabriel, Xhaka, Smith-Rowe, Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli, Nketiah


  • Manager – Jurgen Klopp
  • Carabao Cup Wins – 8 – 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1995, 2001, 2003, 2012

Alongside their eight victories, Liverpool have been losing finalists in the Football League Cup on four occasions, 1978, 1987, 2005 and 2016. They are the most successful team in the competitions history.

Liverpool’s Road To The Semis

  • Second Round – Bye
  • Third Round – V Norwich City (A) W 3-0 (Minamino 4,80, Origi 50)
  • Fourth Round – V Preston (A) W 2-0 (Minamino 62, Origi 84)
  • Quarter Final – V Leicester C (H) – D 3-3 (Oxlade Chamberlain 19, Jota 68, Minamino 90) Won 5-4 on penalties

Liverpool Team News

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been a vocal critic of the number of games teams are asked to play over the festive period and with a number of Covid cases at Anfield, including the manager himself, I expect the Reds to pick a much-changed team for this game.

Kellehere will likely continue in goal with Williams and Gomez coming into defence, Jones in midfield and Origi and Minamino, provided both are fit to play, should play in attack alongside Diego Jota. With Salah, Mane and Keita now in Cameroon for the African Cup of Nations.

Expect to see a number of first team regulars on the bench for this game but don’t expect them to see any game time unless Liverpool fall too far behind in the first leg tie.

Liverpool Possible XI: – (4-3-3) – Kelleher, Williams, Tsimikas, Konate, Gomez, Milner, Jones, Fabinho, Origi, Minamino, Jota.

Arsenal v Liverpool Tips

I think both these teams will realise the value of winning a trophy for their team, but I also feel that both managers have their eyes fixed on other more important objectives, hence I can see both teams not quite being 100% for this game.

For me, the Gunners will be the stronger of the two teams and they have a good record at home against Liverpool in recent times, and as such I think they are the team to back here. Take Arsenal to win at 23/20 and for a correct score bet, go for a 2-1 win for the home side at 8/1.