Just four sides remain in this season’s Carabao Cup and, with the Semi-Final first legs coming up this week, we placed the microscope on both fixtures. Here’s the preview…
The Robins’ fairy tale
After dramatically dispatching Manchester United in the previous round, Bristol City’s next Carabao Cup encounter takes them to the Etihad Stadium, and Pep Guardiola’s Premier League table-topping Manchester City.
The Citizens have not had it all their own way thus far, as, following a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion in Round Three, they’ve needed penalty shootout victories against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City to reach the last four.
For Lee Johnson’s team, the path has been far more serene — something which is reflected in five triumphs within the regulated 90-minute period. Four of those have come in clashes with Premier League outfits, with Watford, Stoke City and Crystal Palace the Robins' other victims.
It’s been more than a decade since these clubs met and that was in this very competition, with the Sky Blues coming out on top. Emile Mpenza and Rolando Bianchi struck in a 2-1 success in 2007.
With progression to the Semi-Finals, the men from Ashton Gate have equalled a club record, set in both 1971 and 1989, when the club reached also reached this stage; they’ll want to go one better this time, however.
Their opponents have lifted the cup on four previous occasions, including in 2014 and 2016, with respective defeats of Sunderland and Liverpool.
On Wednesday, all attention shifts to Stamford Bridge, as Chelsea entertain Arsenal — the two met as recently as last week, in a 2-2 league draw at the Emirates Stadium.
Antonio Conte’s men have made it into the final four courtesy of home wins at the expense of Nottingham Forest, Everton and Bournemouth. The Blues avoided being taken to extra-time by the Cherries, with Alvaro Morata scoring in the 91st minute after Dan Gosling had equalised moments before.
The Gunners’ run has consisted of tight encounters with EFL sides such as Doncaster Rovers and Norwich City, ahead of a 1-0 victory against West Ham United, when Danny Welbeck fired home the winning goal three minutes prior to the interval.
Cesar Azpilicueta and Juan Mata saw Chelsea safely progress when they last faced Arsene Wenger’s side in this competition, in a comfortable night’s work away from home in October 2013.
The Blues got the better of the Gunners at the Millennium Stadium in 2007 too, winning the Final 2-1, in what was the fourth of five League Cup triumphs for the club.
Not since 1993 have Arsenal tasted glory in this competition and, with Wenger yet to get his hands on the trophy, the motivation is there for success in 2018.
Carabao Cup: Semi-Final first leg fixtures
Tuesday 9th January 2018
Manchester City v Bristol City (7:45pm - live on Sky Sports)
Wednesday 10th January 2018
Chelsea v Arsenal (8pm - live on Sky Sports)