As the Carabao Cup nears its conclusion, Aston Villa and Leicester City just have one final hurdle to overcome in their bid to battle it out against either Manchester United or Manchester City under the Wembley arch for the trophy. That hurdle, though, is across two legs and here we look at the opening match taking place at the King Power Stadium.

Leicester and Aston Villa booked their places in the semi-final in starkly contrasting ways. The Foxes were forced to endure a penalty shootout against Everton in the quarters, after Leighton Baines’ added time equaliser made it 2-2. Kasper Schmeichel was the hero of the day, saving two spot kicks before Jamie Vardy converted the decisive one. Villa, on the other hand, were pretty much handed a place in the semi-final by Liverpool, who fielded a weakened team, running out 5-0 victors.

Villa in trouble

One of Villa’s scorers against Liverpool will be missing out against Leicester. A knee injury means Wesley looks set for a prolonged period on the sidelines, however, likely replacement Jonathan Kodjia netted a brace that day. In fact, Villa have only failed to score in two of their last fourteen games – against teams that include Chelsea, Manchester United and two encounters with Liverpool. A Leicester win and both teams to score can be backed at 13/8.

Still, the Villains’ chances look doubtful at best when you take into account their current form. They’ve lost four of their last five games on the road and the most recent of those was an FA Cup defeat at Craven Cottage, meaning despondency could be the order of the day in Leicestershire. Jack Grealish should be back in the starting line-up after sitting out against Fulham and Villa will need their captain on the pitch if they are to stand the best chance of putting up a fight. To compound their prospects further, though, they have lost six of their last nine in all competitions so it’s little wonder that they go into the game as the 9/1 underdogs.

Foxes ready to pounce

This should be a foregone conclusion for Leicester. Dispatch Villa and all they have to do is overcome one of the two Manchester giants in the final on March 1st to lift their first piece of silverware since winning the league four seasons ago. Their form stands them in good stead to go into the second leg with the lead, having recently recorded three consecutive victories. They comfortably saw off West Ham and Newcastle before a third round FA Cup victory over Wigan last time out. All three of those wins were easily carved out without Jamie Vardy who, unfortunately for Villa, could make his return from a calf injury here. The Premier League’s current top scorer netted a brace when the two sides faced off in December and he is 15/8 to get the opening goal of this first leg.

Further reinforcements are likely to be brought in through James Maddison and Ayoze Perez, who were rested against the Latics. The Foxes have their best chance of getting to a League Cup final since they won the trophy in the 1999-00 season, so they will be throwing everything at the Villains. With the away outfit seemingly set for a frustrating ride, it could be worth turning to the cards market. Caglar Soyuncu has seen yellow six times already this season and is 9/4 to be shown another at the King Power Stadium.

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