Fernando Torres’ fall from grace is highlighted by his likely inclusion in Chelsea’s starting line-up for their Carling Cup tie with Liverpool this evening.
The £50 million man has fallen behind Didier Drogba and Daniel Sturridge in the Stamford Bridge pecking order of late but could be given the opportunity to stretch his legs this evening as Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas rotates his squad.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are also set to send their most expensive ever signing into the fray, with Torres’ replacement Andy Carroll ready to start up front.
Like Torres, Carroll has found his opportunities limited of late and will be looking to make an impact.
Indeed, there will be a number of players on both sides looking to stake a claim for an extended run in the first team, with Villas-Boas keen to blood youth in the Carling Cup and Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish forced to mix and match due to the effects of fixture congestion.
As such, there appears little point in looking to the result between the two teams when they played at Stamford Bridge less than a fortnight ago.
Liverpool won that game 2-1 – their third successive victory over the Blues – but with different personnel set to be used by both sides this should not be dwelt on for too long.
Instead, the fact that Chelsea’s Carling Cup side have drawn their last two games after 90 minutes – beating Fulham on penalties and Everton in extra time – could offer more of a pointer for tonight’s action.
Given their home advantage, the Blues are odds-on favourites to win this evening’s game inside 90 minutes.
However, Chelsea’s failure to win their last two Carling Cup matches in normal time suggests punters should look past the price of 87/100 for the home win and consider the 5/2 on offer for a draw after 90 minutes.
This assertion is backed up by Liverpool’s Carling Cup form this season.
Away wins at Brighton and Stoke have been hard-fought and well-earned, but the narrow winning margins do not inspire confidence that a weakened Reds line-up can earn victory at Stamford Bridge in normal time at 3/1.
And with Chelsea’s Carling Cup team scoring just once in two games and Liverpool hardly prolific in front of goal – they have found the back of the net just 17 times in 13 Premier League games – a low-scoring draw looks the best shout.
As such, punters could bet on there being under 2.5 goals in the game at 83/100, or, more temptingly, back a 0-0 regular time scoreline at 15/2 or 1-1 at 11/2.
A successful £25 free bet on Chelsea to draw with Liverpool 1-1 in normal time would return £162.50, with the free bet available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account.
This could leave the semi-final line-up dependent on a penalty shootout.
Chelsea prevailed against Fulham earlier on in the competition, making them good bets to make it through to the last four at 7/20.
But with Liverpool triumphing the last time they contested a shootout with the Blues – in the Champions League in 2007 – the Reds look even more tempting at odds of 3/1.
New customers can register here to claim a free £25 bet or click here to see all of our Carling Cup odds.
Follow us on Twitter @bwinbetting