Mark O’Haire’s Capital One Cup Tips – Tuesday
Middlesbrough narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League last season but Aitor Karanka’s side have again hit the headlines for all the right reasons as the Teesiders aim to reach the big time in 2015/16.
Middlesbrough v Everton, Tuesday 1 December 19.45, Sky Sports 1
The Championship outfit are riding high in second-place following their weekend 2-0 win at Huddersfield and their unstoppable displays at the Riverside have made Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup quarter-final with Everton an intriguing contest.
Across the past two seasons, Boro have W22-D6-L4 in home league action, including 20/32 clean sheets. This term they’ve managed a magnificent W8-D1-L1 in all competitions, shutting eight visitors out including the past six on the spin.
It’s not just in the North East where Middlesbrough have garnered respect, mind. Since the start of last season, the Teesiders have travelled to Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United in cup football and beaten the Citizens, triumphing over the Red Devils on penalties and going the distance against the Reds whilst conceding just four goals across all four fixtures.
It’s testament to the fine form of the Championship outfit that Everton are only marginal favourites this midweek and you’d have to assume the Toffees are going to be in for a tough encounter.
The Merseysiders are in the midst of their best Capital One Cup run since they reached the semi-finals during the 2007/08 campaign but have already needed extra-time in two of their three ties this term, having fallen behind in all three outings.
That’s a habit that Roberto Martinez must address – Everton have now conceded the first goal in 10 of 17 games in all formats and a repeat against a streetwise Middlesbrough could be tough to come back from, bearing their strong defensive record in mind.
Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Bournemouth has left the guests hovering in mid-table of the Premier League and their W3-D5-L1 away record is mediocre. As is their cup return on the Spaniard’s watch – the Toffees have bagged just 4 victories from 12 ties inside 90 minutes.
Everton can call upon the in-form Romelu Lukaku (five goals in his last four outings with eight of his 12-goal haul this season coming away from Goodison Park) and it’s true too that the visitors are the Premier League’s third-highest goalscorers with an impressive 27 strikes in 14 fixtures.
But Martinez’s men also hold the league’s third leakiest backline in the top-13, being breached 19 times in the same timeframe. Only Newcastle and Sunderland have faced more shots-on-target in the top tier whilst none of their three Capital One Cup clashes this term have seen the Toffees keep their sheets clean.
This tie could well go the distance – Everton and Boro have been involved in three penalty shoot-outs between them already this term – but I’m happy to put my faith in the Teesiders upsetting the odds and reaching the final four. We can back Karanka’s charges at 21/20 in the Draw No Bet market and that holds plenty of appeal; after all, an opening goal could well prove good enough.
Middlesbrough draw no bet @ 21/20
Manchester City v Hull City, Tuesday 1 December 19.45
Manuel Pellegrini’s given the Capital One Cup respect from the outset and so another strong Manchester City side is expected to take the field at the Etihad on Tuesday night.
The Citizens have won their last six League Cup clashes against sides from a lower division to an aggregate 24-2 and having plundered five goals or more in four of their last five at the Etihad in this competition, the hosts will be expected to repeat the feat against Championship side Hull.
The Tigers are in unchartered territory having never made it past the fourth round of the Capital One Cup before this season and have won just once at City in their history – that came back in 1930 – with their all-time road record at the Citizens reading W1-D3-L6.
Hull have progressed from three of their last four League Cup matches against teams from a higher division, including both the third and fourth round this campaign but having shipped two or more goals in six of their last seven games on the road in the League Cup, are unlikely to lay a glove on the Premier League title favourites.
The guests were beaten for the first time in 13 games on Friday night against promotion rivals Derby at home so back City to get the job done early doors with Man City-Man City appealing at 4/5 in the Half-Time/Full-Time market.
HT/FT – Manchester City-Manchester City @ 4/5
Stoke v Sheffield Wednesday , Tuesday 1 December 19.45
Stoke slipped to a weekend loss at Sunderland but you can be sure Mark Hughes will have rallied the troops ahead of their quarter-final showdown with Sheffield Wednesday this midweek.
The Potters have reached this stage of the competition in two of the last three seasons so should be well adept at handling the pressure. Stoke have downed nine of their last 10 opponents from lower down the league pyramid in League Cup competition and can do so again at 3/4 quotes.
Wednesday are enjoying their best performance in the League Cup since making it to the semi-finals in 2001/02, beating Premier League sides in the past two rounds. The Owls have suffered three defeats on the road so far this season with two of those coming at clubs sitting above them in the Championship standings.
In fact, Carlos Carvahal’s underdogs have returned W0-D3-L3 figures when taking on top-10 teams in the second tier and have now won once in four with their impressively consistent form dissipating in recent weeks.
I’ll take a home win from the Potters at quotes of 3/4. The hosts have recorded W4-D2-L1 when facing Premier League opposition in 14th and below and should be good enough to reach the semi-final stage with a victory inside 90 minutes.
Stoke to win @ 3/4
*Prices correct at time of publication.