Chelsea v Southampton
Having gone through something of a dry spell in front of goal this season, Mason Mount silenced doubters with his first Chelsea hat-trick in their 7-0 dismantling of Norwich. He may be called upon again here too, as Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner both remain sidelined through injury as the blues look to cope yet again without a recognised number nine.
Southampton still remain firmly planted in the bottom half of the table, though they’ve only lost two of their last 10 outings in all competitions as they prove quite tricky to break down. It does so happen that one of those outings was against Chelsea, though stalemates against other top sides Man City, Man United and West Ham show that this is far from a foregone conclusion.
The blues have actually only won one of their last six League Cup outings against Premier League opposition over 90 minutes, with four of those heading all the way to penalties, and with their meeting with the Saints this year going right down to the wire we could be in for another tight encounter.
Thomas Tuchel is likely to rotate far more than Ralph Hasenhuttl, and with that can often come a lack of fluidity. While the hosts are likely to dominate proceedings, and we’d expect them to get over the line, a repeat of their weekend result against the canaries is unlikely and we’ll opt for a much narrower margin of victory.
SOUTHAMPTON +1.5 ASIAN HANDICAP
Arsenal v Leeds
Arsenal looked a far more capable side than they have done in recent times when hosting Aston Villa on Friday night, with a 3-1 victory looking very comfortable for Mikel Arteta’s side in the end. The challenge for the Gunners now is to find that form with some degree of consistency, and a victory over Leeds here will go some way towards that.
Leeds left it very late in a 1-1 draw at home to Wolves at the weekend, a point that was very well earned considering their visitors were the league’s in form side heading into that clash. Wins are looking incredibly hard to come by for Marcelo Bielsa’s charges though, with their only two from 11 games this season coming against Crewe Alexandra and Watford, with their last round qualification coming via penalties against Fulham.
While the Yorkshire club were last season’s entertainers, they seemed to have shored things up this year and while that’s improved their defensive record, their output has taken a real hit too. Indeed, each of their last nine outings across all competitions have seen under 3.5 goals land, with two thirds of those also seeing a maximum of two strikes. Arsenal have scored two or fewer in 17 of their last 18 league cup outings against Premier League sides going back to 2010, so we’d expect a low scoring, tight affair here.
UNDER 3.5 GOALS
QPR v Sunderland
QPR have been a bit hit and miss recently with a W3-D1-L5 record since mid-September, though with four of those defeats coming on their travels, they’ll be glad this fixture takes place at Loftus Road. They’ve lost just once in nine appearances on home turf this season, which includes victories in each of their past three, as well as a triumph on penalties over Everton in their previous game here.
Sunderland are the only team outside the top two divisions left in the competition and are enjoying a strong season, where they’re just two points off League One leaders Plymouth with a couple of games in hand. They’re W14-D1-L3 this campaign overall, though a lack of clean sheets is a concern having managed just five from their 18 games in total, including just one from their past six appearances.
Eight of QPR’s last 10 matches have seen at least three goals, while both teams made their way onto the scoreboard in eight of these as well. Only one of Sunderland’s past seven matches have seen fewer than three goals, while eight of their 10 away games this term have featured a minimum of three strikes.
OVER 2.5 GOALS