Chelsea Favourites in wide open Capital One Cup
It’s too tight to call in the Capital One Cup after Chelsea, Spurs, Manchester City and Manchester United were kept apart in Wednesday’s quarter-final draw.
Coral make Chelsea their 11/4 favourites, but only just ahead of Man City (3/1), Man United (7/2) and Spurs (4/1) in a very different competition from last year’s when Premiership also-rans Swansea beat Division Two minnows Bradford City in the Final.
This time it seems that the big boys are up for the Cup. Jose Mourinho has certainly never been sniffy about the competition, having won it twice in his first stint as Chelsea manager and he will again have his sights set firmly on Wembley after the Blues drew a last-eight away tie against either Sunderland (40/1) or Southampton.(16/1).
The two Manchester clubs have also been drawn away, United to Stoke (25/1) and City to Leicester (40/1), the only non-Premiership side left in the competition after their stirring 4-3 win over Fulham on Tuesday.
Stoke, of course, gave United a real scare in the League last Saturday, but David Moyes’ boys might not be so jittery as Spurs, who host West Ham (20/1) with the recent embarrassing 3-0 home defeat still fresh in the memory.
As usual, most of the Premiership sides have used this Cup as an opportunity to give their squad members a run out, but it all becomes a little more serious with every round that is negotiated safely.
Even so, it would be a surprise if Man City are at anything like at full strength against Leicester, while Man United might also feel they can get past Stoke without calling upon all of their big guns. The likes of Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney might well be rested for tougher assignments (on paper) in the Premier League and Champions League – they won’t play in them all.
You would think that City and United would still have enough to book semi-final berths, but that will surely be the time for everybody to stop taking liberties.
West Ham and Southampton could be the dark horses. The Hammers’ emphatic victory at White Hart Lane was considered a bit of a freak result, but Spurs didn’t impress in their two games against Hull this week and there might well be another ‘freak’ on the cards if they don’t give Sam Allardyce’s team total respect.
Southampton have to get past Sunderland first, but they are favourites to do so and then not even an in-form Chelsea will relish taking on a team in such great form and high spirits on their own patch.