Tom Carnduff · Tipster
The highlight of the third round of the Carabao Cup takes place on Wednesday, Tom Carnduff picks out his best bets.
Arsenal v Brentford
Emirates Stadium, 1945 BST
Despite sitting 7th in the Sky Bet Championship standings, Brentford have the potential to be a difficult opponent for Unai Emery’s Arsenal on Wednesday evening.
It may not be the fixtures that Bees boss Dean Smith wanted, but his side will test themselves against one of the Premier League’s top sides, backed by a huge away following.
Smith knows the size of the task. He told his pre-match press conference that: “I’m still hoping it was going to be Macclesfield at home but unfortunately we’ve got to travel to the Emirates which I’m sure all our supporters will be looking forward to.”
The focus will be on the league for the visitors as they aim to bounce back into the Championship top-six after a 3-1 defeat to Derby last time out.
Both sides are expected to make changes, with Arsenal set to field a similar side to the one that beat Vorskla Poltava in the Europa League last week.
What Brentford can take confidence in is the fact that the 33/1 outsiders scored twice in that encounter. Poltava finished in 3rd in the Ukranian Premier League last season, 26 points adrift of Shakhtar in first.
The Bees aim to play attacking, entertaining football and that could catch Arsenal out on more than one occasion, despite playing a second string side.
One player that should start is Alan Judge, with the midfielder being limited to mostly sub appearances in the league this season.
The 29-year-old had a serious injury which disrupted the majority of the 2017/18 campaign, but he is determined to bounce back for a team with promotion aspirations.
Judge was in fantastic form the season before last, scoring 14 and assisting a further 12 in 38 league appearances – highlighting how he is a player that knows where the net is.
He is a player who is capable of driving forward to join the attacking element of this squad, and the Bees have shown that they are a team who can break forward quickly to catch out opposition defences.
I’d expect Brentford to strike here, and given Judge’s position in midfield and the football that they want to play, there is every chance he could get onto the scoresheet.
Liverpool v Chelsea
Anfield, 1945 BST, Sky Sports Football
It’s the headline act of the third round of the Carabao Cup as Liverpool welcome Chelsea in what will be the first of two encounters between these two sides in the space of four days.
We’re expecting changes here though, with both sides eager to give minutes to a number of squad players who haven’t featured much in the Premier League.
For Liverpool, that could see the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri given starts, while Chelsea may look towards Alvaro Morata and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
In recent years, changes from the starting XI often left Liverpool vulnerable to defeat, as was the case in many Cup competitions. That seems to have changed under Jurgen Klopp though, with the Reds squad looking strong throughout.
While the hosts will have players looking to prove a point, so too will Chelsea as Morata looks to battle his way back into the starting XI with Olivier Giroud the preferred option up front.
What both sides do possess is quality in attack, and it’s quite interesting that both sit in the top-six for corners in games in the Premier League.
In their last four home games in all competitions, Liverpool have won an average of 7.75 corners, while that average is at 7.25 for Chelsea in their four away encounters.
Despite changes, this game has the potential for another high corner count. It could be a game that does see the standard RequestABet winners of over goals, corners and cards.
I’m more interested in the corners element here though, and the best price of 40/17 available on over 11.5 corners looks great value.
Nottingham Forest v Stoke
City Ground, 1945 BST
Stoke’s struggles continued at the weekend as they lost at home to Blackburn, and they should leave empty-handed when they travel to face Championship rivals Nottingham Forest next.
The Potters found themselves 3-0 down after 46 minutes to Rovers, a result that sees them stuck in 18th in the standings.
Gary Rowett’s men desperately need to improve their league form, and the Carabao Cup could be viewed as an inconvenience for them given recent performances.
Forest will also make changes here, with a number of players set to feature as they look to make a case for a starting spot. Those changes are members of the squad who have featured already though, and made an impact when they have.
Stoke are yet to win an away game this season, picking up two draws against struggling Preston and ending with a point against Sheffield Wednesday despite going 2-0 up.
Aitor Karanka’s side are a best price of 17/11 to wrap up victory here, which they should do given their unbeaten home record and the fact that they secured victory over Premier League opposition in the last round.