Weblog: The football punter

Chelsea v Tottenham betting preview

Sky Sports Football & Main Event, 7.45pm Thursday
EFL Cup semi-final second leg

The away-goal rule is not in operation, there will be no extra-time should the aggregate scores finish level, and fierce London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham could need penalties to sort out their Carabao Cup semi-final.

Spurs head to Stamford Bridge with a 1-0 advantage, secured thanks to Harry Kane's Wembley penalty two weeks ago, but much has gone wrong for Mauricio Pochettino's men since that success.

Hotspur hotshot Kane has been ruled out, as has his England teammate Dele Alli, and a third member of Tottenham's fab four – Heung-Min Son – is away with South Korea at the Asian Cup, leaving Christian Eriksen to shoulder much of the creative burden.

Kane, Alli and Son all scored when Tottenham triumphed 3-1 over Chelsea in the Premier League and their absence surely boosts the Blues in their bid to overturn the deficit.

Usually a 1-0 win in a two-legged tie is a fine advantage due to the away-goals rule yet it's not in play for the EFL tournament and a bet on Chelsea to win by one goal looks a decent play.

That outcome would send the tie into a shootout and the lack of Kane, Alli and Son could also be felt should it go the distance as the trio would have been nailed on to step up for penalties.

However, the betting reflects the problems in the Tottenham camp with Chelsea, who were 7-4 to qualify immediately after the first leg, now favourites with some bookmakers to set a date with Manchester City at Wembley next month.

Chelsea were the subject of much market support in that first leg and are the more likely winners in terms of the 90-minute result despite a woeful performance in Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Arsenal which brought a furious reaction from manager Maurizio Sarri.

The Italian will be hoping that there is an immediate response to the character assassination of his squad, although this is largely a group of players who happily downed Premier League tools for Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte in previous regimes.

Chelsea, whose last four Premier League wins have all been by one goal, have struggled in the final third and failing to register Gonzalo Higuain in time for this tie hampers them again in that department with Eden Hazard left to carry the attacking burden.

Only 13 goals have been scored by Chelsea in their last 12 Premier League matches and Spurs defended well against them in the first leg despite the absence of key defender Jan Vertonghen.

With Vertonghen back to help protect cup keeper Paulo Gazzaniga this could be another low-scoring derby and if Chelsea do hit the front it will be interesting to see whether either side has the mentality to really push for a tie-turning goal or instead plays it safe.

Chelsea to win by one goal

The Football Site

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Match in Focus

14:00 Su 18Aug SKY

Sheff Utd v Crystal Palace

Home WinDrawAway Win
Expert verdict
Crystal Palace held Everton to a goalless draw on the opening day and they could play out another low-scoring affair when they take on Sheffield United. Palace lacked guile last weekend while the Blades also look a little short going forward and may struggle to break their visitors down.