Mark O’Haire’s Capital One Cup Tips – Wednesday
Manchester City lock horns with Everton for the third time in 22 days but Wednesday night’s match-up is the most important with the two clubs now just 90 minutes away from the Capital One Cup final at Wembley.
Manchester City v Everton, 27 January 2016 (19.45), Sky Sports 1
The Toffees hold a deserved 2-1 first leg advantage from Goodison Park and Roberto Martinez’s men are now eyeing up a first trophy in 21 years. In fact, the Merseysiders have reached just one cup final in that time, an FA Cup defeat to Chelsea in 2009.
Everton are sitting in an unacceptable 12th-place in the Premier League and have managed just a solitary success (W1-D2-L1) in their four outings since the first leg. And their hapless defensive showing against struggling Swansea on Sunday was almost indefensible.
Toffees In Sticky Patch
Last season’s 11th-place finish was the Toffees’ worst return for 11 years and this time around they’re closer to the relegation zone than the Champions League positions despite a collection of clearly talented footballers.
Romelu Lukaku has 15 league goals and seven assists this term, Ross Barkley has notched six top-flight goals and seven assists whilst Gerard Deulofeu is the Premier League’s joint-third most prolific creator with eight assists. Chuck the likes of John Stones and Seamus Coleman into the equation and you’ve the foundation for a top-six challenge, at the very least.
Everton will hope to take a similar blueprint to the one that held City to a goalless draw on 13 January at the Etihad. It was the only time in 26 competitive home fixtures that the Citizens had failed to find the back of the net but the chances of a repeat scenario appear slim.
The Toffees have seen both sides score in eight of their 14 away days this season with a total goals haul of 41 – that’s a 2.92 goals-per-game average. And it wouldn’t be a major surprise to see them get in on the act again here.
After all, 12 of the past 16 semi-final second legs in this competition have featured at least three goals.
Since storming to five wins from their opening five Premier League matches, Manchester City have managed just W8-D5-L5 in league action since. Saturday’s 2-2 draw with West Ham may have extended their unbeaten run to four (W2-D2-L0) since the first leg of this cup tie but their results against the division’s best have been a concern.
City have W1-D3-L5 when taking on top-nine clubs in the league with Southampton and Watford the only top-half teams to leave the Etihad pointless. Nevertheless, their superb home scoring record – notching 49 goals across 17 matches in all competitions ensures they’re still alive and well in this tie.
Of course, the pressure is on but arguably less so for Manuel Pellegrini, who’s probably well aware his tenure with the Citizens is coming to a close at the end of the campaign. His relaxed attitude has possibly hindered the side this season but should City turn on the gas, they’ll prove too strong despite Everton’s excellent W5-D8-L1 return on the road in 2015/16.
With the hosts just 1/2 to come out on top in 90 minutes and 4/6 qualify, there’s not a huge amount of wriggle-room for value hunters. And it’s a similar story for punters chasing a positive goals-based bet with Under 2.5 Goals prohibitively short at 1/2 and Both Teams To Score just 6/10.
So instead, I’ll combine both angles and back Man City to win and Over 2.5 Goals at Evens.
This selection covers a 2-1 triumph and better as well as the unlikely 3-0 success or better.
I’m also going to have a wee nibble on the Citizens in the Half-Time/Full-Time market with 5/4 on the table. The home side have led at half-time in five of their last six domestic fixtures at the Etihad with this selection landing in each of City’s most recent five home victories.
Manchester City to win and Over 2.5 Goals @ Evens
Manchester City-Manchester City Half-Time/Full-Time @ 5/4
*Prices correct at time of publication.