Defending Premier League champions Manchester City welcome League One mid-tablers Burton Albion to the Etihad Stadium for the first leg of their Carabao Cup Semi-Final clash.
The home side firmly closed the book on a concerning run of form where they lost three league games in four by disposing of Southampton and then crucially Liverpool last week.
Pep Guardiola’s side were in cup action on Sunday just gone against Championship side Rotherham. A ‘weakened’ City side put seven past the Millers without reply. It’s a rare scoreline but it’s certainly something to consider when City line up against a League One side on Wednesday.
Man City’s run to the League Cup Semi-Final brought with it the scalps of two Premier League sides – Leicester City, Fulham, and Oxford United of League One.
Their cup run has lacked in terms of their best form, Oxford were first disposed of 3-0, Fulham lost 2-0, and Leicester brought them to penalties after a 1-1 draw in normal time.
Burton Albion are not exactly lighting up League One. Sitting in ninth, The Brewers have won two, drawn, two and lost one in their last five. That being said, they’re undefeated in four at the moment and are coming off the back of a 4-0 away win against Rochdale.
Albion have an impressive collection of cup upsets this season having knocked out Championship sides Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough as well as defeating top-flight Burnley, and fellow League One outfit Shrewsbury.
Can Burton Albion continue their remarkable run of upset victories? The journey should likely end here.
Unsurprisingly for a side who only made it to league football in 2009, there’s no head to head record with Manchester City to analyse.
There are common opponents from earlier this season however.
Albion met Burnley in this competition in September, winning 2-1. City met and beat the same side in the league 5-0 in October. Oxford United ran our 3-1 winners against Albion in August while City knocked them out of the Carabao Cup 3-0 a month later.
There’s little there in the way of encouragement for Nigel Clough’s men, especially considering City’s FA Cup performance on Sunday. Burton Albion’s social media team alluded to as much on Monday morning.
— Burton Albion FC (@burtonalbionfc) January 7, 2019
Manchester City average 2.7 goals a game against Premier League opposition, Albion just 1.2 against their peer clubs.
Goals, and how much City win by, are the parameters to look at for this game.
Pep Guardiola continues to be without long term absentees Benjamin Mendy and Claudio Bravo. Kevin de Bruyne managed 67 minutes against Rotherham last time out and both he and his employers will be hoping for a similarly hitch-free shift against Burton Albion.
Expect Gabriel Jesus, Nicolas Otamendi and Phil Foden to reprise their cup-starting roles too.
Burton Albion are coming off the back of a bad spell of injuries. It’s starting to clear up but Chris Beardsley, Elliot Hodge, and Marvin Sordell are still likely to miss out.
At a price of 1/50, we won’t be worrying about backing City to qualify for the final. Similarly, at 1/20 for the win tonight City are unbackable.
City have scored 12 goals in their last three games against quite the variety of opponents (2 v Liverpool, 3 v Southampton, and 7 v Rotherham). I see Burton Albion holding out better than Rotherham but not by a lot
4 – 5 Total Goals
On a related note, I expect most if not all of the 4 – 5 total goals to come City’s way, so backing Manchester City with a -3 handicap at odds against looks value.
Handicap -3 Manchester City to win