SPURS host Brentford in the first EFL Cup semi-final showdown on Tuesday night. Daniel McCulloch (@DMcCulloch1984) shares his favourite fancies.
This promises to be an intriguing encounter and any Tottenham fans expecting a procession to the final are going to be rudely disappointing I feel. Brentford are currently in fourth place in The Championship but are just two points off second with a game in hand and are – once again – top of the Expected Goals (xG) table in their division.
The Bees haven't lost in 16 games in all competitions and have beaten Newcastle and recently relegated Bournemouth in that sample.
They have several players who are of Premier League quality already, with the likes of Rico Henry, Josh Dasilva and Ivan Toney looking a class apart in The Championship. Moreover, they have few injury concerns and while Toney was on the bench against Newcastle in the last round, I fully expect him to start in North London. Toney has 16 goals in 20 league games this term and I did consider backing him in the anytime goalscorer market.
However, I would rather go with a tried and trusted method where Jose Mourinho is concerned. The Portuguese has won this competition four times – three with Chelsea and one with United – and the first leg of each semi-final was a fairly dour affair. At Chelsea he faced Manchester United, Liverpool and Wycombe and none of those matches saw three goals or more. The same was the case when they faced Hull when he was United boss.
Additionally, 10 of their 16 league matches this term have seen an Under 2.5 Goals bet oblige. Given that Brentford are generally tight at the back – conceding less than a goal a game this term – and half their games this season have also seen such a bet return a profit, the 6/5 888sport are offering on Under 2.5 Goals is too big to turn down.
A further play I like the look of is Tottenham to win by a single goal. I look at the bottom six in the Premier League and Tottenham have generally done just enough against such sides. They've faced Newcastle, Brighton, Burnley and West Brom this season and won three of them by a single goal.
At 11/4 with SkyBet, this looks great value to me, especially as I don't feel like either manager will be too despondent if it does end in this manner.