Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
The first major domestic silverware of the season is set to be handed out this weekend, when Manchester City and Chelsea contest the 59th Carabao Cup Final at Wembley on Sunday.
Current holders City are the bookmakers’ early favourite to successfully defend their title and win their 3rd Carabao Cup in 4 seasons, while Chelsea are aiming to defy the odds to lift their first league cup trophy since 2015.
Sunday’s fixture comes two weeks to the day after Manchester City dismantled Chelsea 6-0 in the teams’ Premier League clash at the Etihad, and with that annihilation almost certain to have left deep psychological fractures in the Blues’ ranks, it’s easy to see why Pep Guardiola’s men have been tipped to triumph at the Home of Football.
Carabao Cup Final Player Specials
Sergio Aguero over 1.5 shots on target – 8/11
Manchester City’s explosive Argentine striker Sergio Aguero has been in mesmerising form for the Citizens since the turn of the year.
The 30-year old centre-forward has rattled the net an incredible 10 times in his last 7 appearances for City, a streak that included a sensational hattrick against Chelsea a fortnight ago.
In his last 5 starts for City alone, Aguero racked up a remarkable 22 attempts on goal. That breaks down to an impressive average of 4.4 shots per 90 minutes, 2.2 of which were on target.
Aguero has an incredible scoring record in domestic games of significance for City, and we expect him to be at the sharp end of the Citizen’s attacking play against Chelsea again on Sunday.
You can back Aguero to have over 1.5 shots on target against the Blues at 8/11 with bet365 – a selection that would have landed a winning bet in 4 of City’s last 5 fixtures.
Fernandinho over 2.5 tackles – 4/5
Brazilian international Fernandinho brings vitally important defensive balance to an incredibly forward-thinking Manchester City team, and we expect the 33-year old to put his ball recovery skills to good use again on Sunday.
Fernandinho has averaged 2.1 tackles per game for City in the Premier League this season, though that average has sky-rocketed when the former Shakhtar Donetsk has lined up against Chelsea this term.
The screening midfielder made 7 tackles against Chelsea when City battered the Blues two weeks ago, and Fernandinho made 6 tackles against Sarri’s men earlier in the season at Stamford Bridge.
Completing a hattrick of expert displays of disruption, Fernandinho attempted 4 tackles for City against Chelsea in the Charity Shield back in August.
We’re backing Fernandinho to put his foot in with equal enthusiasm on Sunday, making bet365’s odds 4/5 on him making over 2.5 tackles a cracking looking price.
N’Golo Kante over 46.5 passes – 6/5
Maurizio Sarri’s decision to redeploy N’Golo Kante as more of a box to box runner in order to free up space to play Jorginho at the base of Chelsea’s midfield has understandably come in for plenty of criticism this season.
Kante has however, become less of a peripheral figure in Chelsea’s build up play since positional switch. Last season, the Frenchman averaged just 46.7 passes per Premier League game, while this year his equivalent figure has shot up to 59.6.
The former Leicester City man is available at 6/5 with bet365 to hit a minimum of 46.5 passes against City, a price that looks brilliant value when you consider that Kante has hit under that total of passes just 5 times in 26 Premier League starts this season.
Despite seeing achingly little of the ball in Chelsea’s 0-6 hammering at the hands of City two weeks ago, Kante still managed to play 51 passes. Sunday’s contest at Wembley promises to be considerably less one-sided, and we think Kante should pass that 46.5 passing target relatively comfortably.
Carabao Cup Match Specials
Man City over 6.5 shots on target – 11/10
The Premier League’s leading goalscorers Manchester City have hit 74 goals in England’s top flight this season and well over 100 goals in all competitions this season already.
Unsurprisingly, red-hot City top the Premier League charts for average shots per game (17.1) and average shots on target per game (6.8) this season too. (Read all of our latest Premier League match previews, predictions, betting tips and special offers here!)
While that 6.8 average might seem a little too close to the 6.5 targeted figure in our bet, it’s worth noting that City’s attempts on goal hit their mark 13, 9 and 11 times in their respective trio of meetings with Chelsea earlier in the season.
With those figures considered, bet365’s 11/10 odds on City hitting at least 6.5 shots on target at Wembley on Sunday look fantastic value.
Man City over 1.5 offsides – 4/6
Manchester City’s pacey attackers are constantly moving, probing and searching for space between the lines and behind opposing defensive lines.
The Citizen’s forwards’ numerous darting runs routinely wreak havoc against their opponents, though their forward runs are quite often cut short by the linesman’s flag.
In fact, no other Premier League team has been flagged as often as City this season. Man City’s players have been caught offside a staggering 72 times already in the league this season, which works out at roughly 2.7 offsides per game.
On Sunday, City need to hit just 55% of their usual offsides per game average for our tip to be successful. That makes bet365’s price of 4/6 for there to be over 1.5 Man City offsides well worth considering.
Carabao Cup Statistics
- One team has kept a clean sheet in each of the last 5 meetings between Chelsea and Manchester City.
- Chelsea’s 0-6 loss to Man City two weeks ago was their biggest ever Premier League defeat and their worst in any competition for 28 years.
- Sergio Aguero has scored a total of 15 in 18 appearances against Chelsea, including 5 times in 3 games against them for City this season.
- Chelsea and Man City have won the League Cup 10 times between them (Chelsea 5, Man City 5). Chelsea were the losing finalists twice (1972, 2008) and City once (1974).
- Sunday’s game will be Maurizio Sarri’s first major final in club football management. A win would give the Italian his first trophy.
- Man City have averaged 2.95 goals per game across 4 competitions this season.
- Chelsea have kept only 3 clean sheets in their last 10 domestic fixtures (league and cup).
- Man City have won 13 of their last 14 matches in all competitions.
- Chelesa have lost 4 of their last 5 games away from Stamford Bridge.
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