England’s second tier cup kicks off in mid-week with the 3rd round of the EFL Cup beginning. This is the stage when the balance of the Premier League teams join the competition as teams look in search of victory, as the prize is a spot in the UEFA Europa League competition.
Nottingham Forest entertain Premier League opposition when they welcome Arsenal to town with the aim of trying to progress to the next stage of the competition in front of their home fans. Forest will feel confident of being able to find the back of the net given Arsenal’s struggles to keep a clean sheet, with just 1 in their last 6 matches this season. Forest have been in good scoring nick themselves netting in 6 straight matches in a row with them netting 12 goals in their last 4 home games themselves. While forward Assambolonga will be missing in this encounter they will have Vellios partnering former Arsenall forward Nicklas Bendtner in attack as he aims to prove a point to his former employers. Forest have been shaky at the back leaking 17 goals in the 8 games played so far this season, which will be something to watch out give Arsenal’s visit to town.
Arsenal will be playing in a sold-out city ground in Nottingham and Wenger has already indicated that he will rotate his squad giving a chance to fringe players David Ospina, Rob Holding, Kieran Gibbs, Lucas Perez and Chuba Akpom. We expect the Arsenal lineup to look something like this – Ospina; Chambers, Gabriel, Holding, Gibbs; Elneny, Xhaka; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Perez; Akpom. When we look at this Arsenal lineup, they are expected to do decently well in the Premier League; and should have enough in the tank to find the back of the net against a Championship side given the pace that is present in this team.
Arsene Wenger will look at this trophy more seriously this time around especially since the Premier League title looks all but Manchester City’s to lose; he will have to focus on the League Cup and FA Cup in order to get some silverware. I expect an entertaining encounter with a lot of pace and high tempo in this encounter and with that I am backing over 2.5 goals in this encounter.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte will be looking at this competition to regain some lost form for his side after they have failed to win any of their last 2 encounters. This means he will be giving an opportunity to some regular starters as well as some fringe players to make their mark on this competition. The Chelsea lineup is expected to be – Begovic; Azpilicuetta, Luiz, Cahill, Chabolah; Fabregas, Mikel; Pedro, Loftus-Check, Moses; Batshuayi. If we put that lineup in front of you, it should be threatening enough to get into the top 10 of the Premier League and with no european competition this year, Antonio Conte will be forced to take this competition a bit more seriously than they have. In the last round, Chelsea marched to an early 3-0 lead before struggling to Bristol Rovers and got pegged back to 3-2. In terms of finding the back of the net, Chelsea have scored at least 2 goals in 5 out of their last 6 encounters, with the last game against Liverpool being the missing one out. While on the defensive end, Chelsea have only kept one clean sheet this season, which they might struggle to do given Begovic and the defensive frailties that Chelsea have.
Leicester City, the Premier League Champions, are going through that run of playing their 4th game in 10 days, which is what you expect for a Champions League team at this stage of the season. Leicester City will look to hugely rotate their squad with players like Musa, Okazaki, Albrighton, Schlupp, Zieler, Wasilewski, Chilwell, Gray, Kapustka, King, James all expected to be given the nod to play in this encounter. Ranieri has shown his side are strong in front of their home fans, including they season where they have grabbed 7 out of 9 points available. 5 out of Leicester’s 6 games this campaign have seen the games go over 2.5 goals, where they have conceded in just 3 games. Given the rotated squad I expect the team to be more focussed on scoring up front to progress and its the rotated defence, there is a good chance that they could concede against a relatively stronger on paper Chelsea squad.
This game promises to be the tie of the round, and one can expect over 2.5 goals to be scored during this encounter.