Can Chelsea secure a place in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup on Wednesday night? The Blues may have crashed out of this competition early last season, but they’re currently favourites to make the last four of a competition they last won back in 2015.
Having seen their title hopes evaporate and with Barcelona looming in the Champions League, Antonio Conte may well focus on this competition for some potential silverware. Can the Blues edge their way past Eddie Howe’s men and secure a place in the next round? While they’ve had some pretty significant lows so far this season, losing out in a cup quarter-final to a struggling Bournemouth side would probably plumb new depths.
With fans readjusting their ambitions for the season, a push in the EFL Cup makes sense. This was a competition that was sacrificed last season, as they crashed out at West Ham just before their 13 game winning run in the league got started off. This time around they have reached the last eight, but we still have to wonder if Conte will be completely focused on winning this competition with a tough battle on his hands for a top four spot in the Premier League.
Team News: Conte Likely to Ring Changes for Quarter Final
While the Blues are just 90 minutes from a place in the semis, we have to wonder how much that means to Conte. Even the FA Cup took a spot on the back burner right until the final, when the league season had ended. The Italian went with Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench for a semi-final with Spurs in that competition, so you have to wonder what kind of side he could produce for this quarter-final. There’s not a huge amount of depth in the Blues squad right now, so he’ll probably be forced into mixing up first teamers and the odd bench player to keep the team fresh over the Christmas period.
Bournemouth have little reason to make changes, even during the busiest of periods. They have quite a strong squad after their recent transfer business, and their squad should be able to take the addition of another big game in their schedule. The visitors will be expected to start with their first choice 11, despite making changes for their win over Middlesbrough in the previous round. If they don’t take it as seriously as a league game, then their hopes of progressing any further are basically done before the game.
Bournemouth got this far thanks to victories over Championship sides Birmingham and Middlesbrough, while they also narrowly edged out newly promoted Brighton at home. That wasn’t the hardest set of games for the Cherries, and they have to expect a significant step up when they head to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
The visitors have an awful away record in the league this season, losing five of their nine away trips ahead of this match. While they’ve won at poor sides like Stoke and Newcastle – teams who Chelsea have beaten by an aggregate score of 7-1 – the Cherries are having a more difficult time against top opposition. They’ve lost out to every top seven side they’ve faced this season, while they’ve faced nine of the current top 10 already and claimed just one point.
Chelsea v Bournemouth Head to Head
Chelsea have won four straight meetings against the Cherries, following a 1-0 defeat to them under Jose Mourinho two years ago. That loss to the then newly promoted side was a humiliating one for the defending champions, and the Portuguese boss barely got another two weeks in the job. Since then things have looked up, with Antonio Conte winning three meetings with Bournemouth on the spin.
- Bournemouth 0-1 Chelsea, Oct 2017
- Bournemouth 1-3 Chelsea, Apr 2017
- Chelsea 3-0 Bournemouth, Dec 2016
- Bournemouth 1-4 Chelsea, Apr 2016
- Chelsea 0-1 Bournemouth, Dec 2015
- Chelsea to win and over 2.5 goals – 5/6 with Betfred
- Chelsea to win and BTTS – 19/10 with Ladbrokes
Chelsea come into this one as the 3/10 favourites with BetVictor and other firms, as they look to secure a semi-final spot. The draw here can be backed at 4/1 with Coral, while the visitors are priced at 17/2 with Ladbrokes to take all three points. It’s hard to argue with that, given the recent record between the pair. The Blues have dominated meetings between these two in recent years, and that has us expecting a home win in this quarter final. However, the Blues are far too short to back outright for a victory here, but we think there are a couple of great value bets ahead of Wednesday’s game.
Chelsea will be expecting to progress regardless of the side Antonio Conte picks for this game. However, his choices in the cup do tend to leave the side open, although his sides do tend to produce strong attacking displays in cup matches. They scored eight times across their opening two FA Cup matches last season, while they hit four past Spurs in the semis at Wembley. Will we see another goal-filled game when these two meet on Wednesday?
It seems quite likely, given that over 2.5 goals has landed in every game in this competition under Conte’s watch. That’s partly down to an awful defensive record – which has seen them concede in all of their previous five games in the EFL Cup, including shipping two at home to Bristol Rovers last season and failing to keep clean sheets against Nottingham Forest and Everton at home this term. We expect a high scoring game, and our tips here reflect that. We’re going for a home win and over 2.5 goals, as we see Chelsea winning and Bournemouth grabbing a goal in this clash.