It’s a big week in the football calendar in England as the first major cup semifinals of the season will take place across Tuesday and Wednesday evening. The Carabao Cup semifinals begin with a London derby as Tottenham face Championship side Brentford on Tuesday night at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

This is then followed on Wednesday evening by a massive Manchester derby clash as Manchester United host Manchester City at Old Trafford in a repeat of last year’s semifinal in this competition (which Manchester City narrowly won over two legs).

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Let’s now take a look at both semifinals in the Carabao Cup in a bit more detail, starting with an explanation of why this year’s semifinals are different to those in previous years, before we then take a closer look at each of the two games being played this week.

Carabao Cup Semifinals 2020/21 – Changes

The first thing to note here is that the 2020/21 Carabao Cup semifinals are different to previous years. Normally, these games are played over two legs, one at each ground of the teams competing, but due to the shortened season, this year’s games are played at the home ground of the team drawn first out of the hat.

In this case, that is Tottenham and Manchester United.

Each tie is also played over one leg, with extra time and penalties used to decide the winner on the night if required.

Carabao Cup Semifinals Preview & Tips

Tottenham Hotspur V Brentford (Tue 5th December, 7.45pm)

Due to being in European competition and having their game with Leyton Orient cancelled and subsequently being given a bye, Spurs have played just two games to reach this stage of the competition. Brentford have played five and knocked out a number of Premier League teams so far (Newcastle, Fulham, Southampton and West Brom) to reach this stage of the tournament.

Both sides lie fourth in their respective division and both have lost just the three league games so far this season. This is Brentford’s first ever semifinal appearance in a top ranked cup competition, while Spurs’ last major trophy was their 2008 victory in this very tournament.

Probable Teams

  • Possible Spurs XI (4-2-3-1) – Lloris, Aurier, Sanchez, Dier, Davies, Hojbjerg, Sissoko, Moura, Alli, Son, Kane

While I expect Jose Mourinho to pick a very strong team for this game, with the likes of Harry Kane and Son Hyeong-Min likely to start, I do feel he may take the opportunity to give some fringe players a chance and as such I think the likes of Sissoko, Moura and Sanchez could well come into the team.

Serge Aurier will deputise at right back for the suspended Matt Doherty, while I think Dele Alli could be given a chance to impress, despite the England international being linked with a move away from Tottenham in this transfer window. Gareth Bale and Giovani Lo Celso are out injured but even so Spurs should still field a very strong team here.

  • Possible Brentford XI (4-4-2) – Raya, Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Henry, Dasilva, Janelt, Jensen, Mbuemo, Toney, Canos.

Thomas Frank is likely to go with his strongest possible team for Brentford’s chance to reach their first ever major cup competition final. His main selection dilemma is on the left wing, where Sergi Canos could just about get the nod ahead of Tariqe Fosu-Henry.

However, with Brentford on a run of 16 games unbeaten, a run which stretches back to late October, Frank’s team generally will select itself after an excellent cup run that has seen them knock out several Premier League sides from the competition already.

How do we see the game going and what are our tips?

As good as Brentford have been in this competition this season, it is hard to make a case for them getting the better of Spurs at Spurs home ground here. I am backing Spurs to win the game (9/20) and I think a good correct score prediction here is a 2-1 win for Spurs (7/1).

Manchester United V Manchester City (Wed 6th December, 7.45pm)

These two sides played this fixture in the Premier League just before Christmas and played out a somewhat drab and boring 0-0 draw. With a place in a cup final on the line though, I expect both these teams to be a lot more attack-minded in this game on Wednesday night.

Both are in great form in the Premier League, City winning their last three, United winning four of their last five and both are in real contention at the top of the table. Both managers will also be desperate for more silverware and so I am expecting two very strong teams to be selected for this crucial semifinal clash.

Probable Teams

  • Possible Man Utd XI (4-3-3) – Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Shaw, Bailly, Maguire, Fred, McTominay, Pogba, Rashford, Fernandes, Martial.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has given Dean Henderson a chance to stake a claim for the number 1 jersey at Old Trafford in these games over the course of the season and I expect him to come into the team here. Other than that, I think it may well be the same team that battled to a solid 2-1 win over Aston Villa at the weekend.

That means Paul Pogba will retain his place in midfield and that Fernandes will play just behind the more advanced Martial and Rashford, with Mason Greenwood ready to come on from the bench should United need extra attacking impetus.

  • Possible Man City XI (4-3-3) – Steffen, Cancelo, Zinchenko, Dias, Stones, Rodrigo, Gundogan, Silva.B, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Sterling

Having despatched Chelsea 3-1 at the weekend at Stamford Bridge, and with a squad with a number of players still not fully fit or recuperating from illness, I can’t see Pep Guardiola making too many changes for this game.

He will rotate and I would expect Mahrez to come in for Foden and he may well elect to perhaps start Fernandinho in midfield (although Gundogan and Rodrigo were exceptional at the weekend). But Guardiola’s options are somewhat limited. Steffen will continue in goal for Ederson while Sergio Aguero looks only fit enough to start from the bench at the moment.

How do we see the game going and what are our tips?

I can’t split these two teams to be honest, so I am backing the draw at 90 minutes at 14/5. For a correct score bet, I would go with the 1-1 which is a 13/2 option.  You can get 7/1 on the game being decided by penalties which I feel is also another bet to consider.

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