By William Hill
Last Updated: 7th January 2020
Even an act of God may now not be sufficient to stop Manchester City reaching their fourth EFL Cup final in six seasons, but the midweek exploits of their Under-21 team could be far more significant.
Pep Guardiola’s seniors are 1/2 favourites in the EFL Cup outright betting after thrashing League One Burton Albion 9-0 in the first leg of their semi-final, but Paul Harsley’s age-group side arguably pulled off City’s result of the week by beating Rochdale 4-2 to reach the Checkatrade Trophy last eight.
Man City fourth-favs in Checkatrade Trophy outright betting after comeback success
While the annihilation of Burton will likely attract more column inches, the victory for the Etihad club’s U21s puts them on the road to a collision course with history.
Incoming from 2-0 down to defeat Rochdale 4-2 at Spotland, City became only the third youth side to reach the quarter-finals of the competition since 2016/17, when Category One academies were first introduced into the competition.
Swansea’s youngsters made the last eight in 2017, while Chelsea only missed out on a place in the final last season when they lost on penalties.
Unlike the Blues in 2018/19, Harsley’s whippersnappers have yet to taste normal-time defeat in the competition, with their sole group-stage reverse coming on penalties to Swansea.
Should City become the first Category One academy team to win the Checkatrade Trophy, it would represent another step on the path to world domination they have been treading since the club’s 2008 purchase by the Abu Dhabi United Group.
They’re now trading as 7/1 fourth-favourites to do just that, with only 5/2 market leaders Sunderland, Portsmouth (3/1) and Peterborough (9/2), who bounced Chelsea’s U21s 3-1 in the last round, shorter in the betting.
Having shown no small amount of fighting spirit in the tournament already this term, with Nabil Touaizi netting an injury-time equaliser against Shrewsbury in the groups, as well as their back-from-the-dead romp against Keith Hill’s men on Tuesday night, they don’t look bad value to do so.
The draw for the Checkatrade Trophy quarter-finals takes place at 7pm on Thursday 10th January