EFL Cup Semi-Finals – Football & Racing News – Star Sports

talkSPORT’s chief football correspondent ALEX CROOK looks ahead to the upcoming EFL Cup semi-finals…

It was a frustrating weekend on the tipping front, mainly because Arsenal left their shooting boots at home but we go again with some confident selections on the upcoming League Cup semi-finals, writes ALEX CROOK…

🔴 MIDDLESBROUGH v CHELSEA 🔵 (TUESDAY)

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It has been far from a vintage season for Chelsea, but the EFL Cup has handed manager Mauricio Pochettino a golden opportunity to lead the Blues to Wembley in his first year in charge as they face Middlesbrough in a repeat of the 1997 FA Cup final.

The Blues took a while to get going in Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie at home to Preston but once Armando Broja had broken the deadlock, they played with a little bit of swagger and ran out comfortable 4-0 victors.

That was the former European champions’ third successive win in all competitions so perhaps after a stop-start campaign they are at last building up some momentum.

History is on Boro’s side as on the last three occasions they have reached the semis of this cup they have gone on to final, most recently under Steve McClaren in 2004 when they lifted their first ever major trophy.

However, Michael Carrick’s men have lost three of their last four games and have won just once at home since the end of November.

The Championship side gave a good account of themselves in their FA Cup loss at home to Premier League Aston Villa before succumbing to Matty Cash’s deflected late goal.

But goal-shy Boro lacked the cutting edge up front to ever seriously threaten the visitors’ goal and I think it will follow a similar storyline here.

Chelsea are without Nicolas Jackson due to the African Cup of Nations so Broja will expect to keep his place, but Cole Palmer, who has already banged in eight goals this season, is the Londoners’ most likely match-winner in my eyes.

🔴 LIVERPOOL v FULHAM ⚪ (WEDNESDAY)

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Liverpool are still competing on four fronts heading into the first leg of their all Premier League clash at home to Fulham on Wednesday after taking advantage of Arsenal’s profligacy in front of goal by winning 2-0 at the Emirates on Sunday to move into the FA Cup fourth round.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have turned Anfield into a fortress this season with Manchester United and Arsenal the only sides to avoid defeat there in any competition.

They also have a formidable record when playing at home in the first leg of a semi-final in this competition so even without star man Mo Salah, will be confident of taking a lead into the return leg at Craven Cottage having won four of their last five matches.

Due to the winter break, Liverpool also have the added advantage over their visitors of not having a weekend fixture to concern them so Klopp will be expected to name as strong a line-up as possible.

Diogo Jota is pressing for a start after an eye-catching second half cameo at the Emirates and has four cup goals to his name already this season. Jota to score first is 15/4 with starsports.bet.

With Liverpool likely to dominate possession there should be plenty of Fulham tackles flying in and the combative Joao Palhinha has averaged a yellow card every other game over the course of his Premier League career.

Good luck,

ALEX CROOK

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Author: Eugene Morris