Can Michael Be The History-Maker For Swansea?
While the League Cup isn't held in as high regard as some of the trophies that have graced Chelsea's trophy cabinet over the last decade, Rafael Benitez will have extra motivation to make the Wembley final and gets his hands on some silverware early in to his tenure as Chelsea manager.
As fate conspires, the League Cup was the first competition that Benitez's nemesis, Jose Mourinho, won during his trophy laden spell at Stamford Bridge, ironically, against the Spaniard's Liverpool team. Benitez will de desperate to step out from the huge shadow that Mourinho cast in West London and no one could argue if he landed a winners' medal, regardless of the competition.
Chelsea are without their African players for this semi-final first leg, while Swansea travel to the Bridge with a near full squad.
Petr Cech (groin) and John Terry (knee) remain out for the reigning European champions, although the latter could play for with the Blues' Under-21 squad on Thursday. The two players unavailable having left for African Cup Of Nations duty are John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses.
Swansea's only absentee is Neil Taylor, who has been ruled out for the season with a fractured ankle.
Gerhard Tremmel is set to start in goal, as he has in each game on the Swans run to the semi-finals, and Angel Rangel is available after a calf problem.
While Rafa Benitez has the personal motivation of outdoing one of his predecessors, Michael Laudrup knows that if he can guide his team to a major final for the first time in their 100-year history, his status in Wales will go from rock-solid manager to legendary leader.
The Swans, enjoying another successful in the Premier League, have not suffered the infamous second-season syndrome that has plagued so many promoted clubs. The departure of Brendan Rodgers along with Scott Sinclair and Joe Allen, and the arrival of Laudrup, has done little to weaken the spirit of the team. If anything, the Swans have shown this campaign that they can compete with the very best the top tier has to offer.
The match betting for this Capital One Cup semi-final first leg sees the hosts installed as 4/9 favourites. If Saturday's FA Cup tie is anything to go by then Chelsea will be putting out a strong team here.
Swansea can be backed at 11/2 to win in London but history is not on the Welsh team's side. The Swans have only once beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (in any competition), a 3-1 Division Two victory when the clubs first ever met back in November 1925.
The draw, priced at 7/2, is a result that the majority of Swansea fans would be extremely happy with. The last two matches between the clubs have ended in a 1-1 draw (both in the Premier League at the Liberty Stadium) and the correct score is 17/2.
The William Hill Headline Offers for this game centre around Chelsea legend Frank Lampard and Swansea's Spanish superstar Michu. Lampard scored his first senior career goal while on loan for the Swans, and will be keen to get on the scoresheet again for Chelsea, the club he has represented so admirably for over a decade. We have enhanced the price of a Lampard goal in a home win to 3/1.
Michu is challenging at the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts this season, and at just £2 million, the signing from Rayo Vallecano is without doubt the value purchase of the year. With a goal at the Emirates and at home against Man Utd, Michu can handle the toughest of defences. For Michu to score in an unlikely away win you'll find a price of 10/1.
Chelsea 1/4 Swansea 11/4
Demba Ba 10/3
Fernando Torres 7/2
Juan Mata 9/2
Danny Graham 9/1
Chelsea -1 23/20
Swansea +1 8/5
Total Match Goals
Under 2.5 6/4 Over 2.5 1/2
Red card in the match
Yes 11/2 No 1/10