Mark O’Haire’s Capital One Cup Tips – Tuesday
After the excitement of their 5-4 win over Norwich at the weekend, Liverpool will need to get back down to business on Tuesday night as they bid to seal their passage into the Capital One Cup final.
Liverpool v Stoke, Tuesday 26 January 2016 (19.45), Sky Sports 1
Jordan Ibe scored the only goal of the game to give the Reds a slender advantage coming into this second leg, the third occasion in four meetings between the two clubs to end in a 1-0 Liverpool win. And if Stoke are going to battle back, they’ll want to avoid checking the history books beforehand.
Liverpool have never lost a League Cup semi-final home tie (W8-D7-L0) and not since 1959 have the Potters triumphed at Anfield (W0-D5-L31). Indeed, the guests have scored just once in their most recent eight visits to the red side of Merseyside.
But Jurgen Klopp’s troops are an inconsistent bunch and that probably explains why, even with a 1-0 advantage, the Reds offer little to no value at odds-on quotes.
Of course, this competition represents the best opportunity for either side to pick up some silverware and the first leg result means Stoke will need to go on the offensive.
Mark Hughes’ men have seen a total of just eight goals scored in their five League Cup matches this term but with clubs knowing it’s now-or-never and with Wembley in reach, it’s interesting to see 12 of the past 16 semi-final second legs in this competition have featured at least three goals.
Stoke were comfortably dispatched 3-0 at Leicester on Saturday but Hughes has backed his side to put that defeat behind them. Marko Arnautovic is expected back in the XI and Ryan Shawcross should recover from minor back injury.
The visitors have fired blanks in their last two outings but do boast a talented strikeforce and I’ll happily put my faith in the Potters grabbing a goal. Their road record this season reads a reasonable W6-D5-L4 and although 10 of those fixtures fell below the 2.5 goals line, they’ve been leaking plenty of late.
Stoke have kept just a solitary clean sheet in seven and shipped at least two goals in four of their previous six away days. So combine the two parts and I believe we’re well within our rights to suspect a decent contest with goals at both ends. Both Teams To Score has been chalked up at 20/21 and that looks just the ticket.
Liverpool have scored as many goals in their last two games as they had in their previous eight matches in all competitions (8) and nobody can deny the first few months under Klopp have been enjoyable. Results and performances have been mixed and injuries continue to rob the charismatic German of numerous players.
First choice central defenders Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren are unlikely to make this fixture so a backline that’s kept their sheets clean just once in seven games in 2016 – at home against Exeter – and leaked 10 goals in their last five outings, looks as vulnerable as ever.
Looking at Liverpool’s Anfield results this season, they’ve W7-D7-L3 across all competitions. It’s decent but not deserving of their short odds status.
And so we’ll focus on the BTTS angle – the hosts have netted at least once in 14 of their 15 home games since September, with both teams scoring on 10 occasions.
At a shade under even-money, it looks the most sensible solution.
Both Teams To Score (20/21)
*Prices correct at time of publication.