Everton backed for Capital gains
Ben Linfoot previews the Capital One Cup ahead of the third round with Everton and Southampton backed for glory.
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The cream of the Premier League enter the Capital One Cup this week but it's a couple of teams that have already had a run out in the competition that appeal in the outright market.
The days of the Champions League clubs dominating with their shadow squads appear to be over judging by the last three winners (Birmingham, Liverpool and Swansea) and backing any of the elite is fraught with danger.
You can almost guarantee that the top clubs will use the competition to experiment and blood some youngsters so single-figure prices about Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal make no appeal whatsoever.
With Spurs competing in the Europa League they'll almost certainly have the League Cup as number four in their list of priorities while Liverpool's fringe players aren't to be trusted, even if they manage to dump out Man United in the third round.
I would rather back a Premier League team that has a solid defence, is above average going forward and has no European distractions. This year's Swansea, if you like.
Neither team has won the League Cup in their history, but both sides have impressed in the early stages of the season and look primed to go deep into the competition this time around.
Everton are the only unbeaten team left in the Premier League and with three clean sheets in five games it's clear that their defence remains a strength despite the departure of David Moyes.
Three draws to start the season wasn't ideal but it does show the Toffees are hard to beat and wins over Chelsea and West Ham in their last two games are an indication of their potential.
Their late business in the transfer market was particularly impressive and while priority for Roberto Martinez will be a top-four challenge, he's well aware how a cup triumph can boost a club after last season's FA Cup success with Wigan.
It took his new side until after extra-time to beat Stevenage in the last round but I would expect a stronger side to face Fulham at Craven Cottage in midweek.
Fulham away is a tough draw but the Cottagers have failed to impress this season and I would expect Everton to find a way to beat Martin Jol's team, especially considering their confidence levels after two good wins.
After that it's the luck of the draw, but Everton have a team that can beat anyone else in the league on their day and a manager who has previous when it comes to plotting a way to Wembley.
You wouldn't say the same about Southampton, but they remind me very much of Swansea last year in that they are an improving side that are almost guaranteed a spot in the higher part of the mid-table band. A decent cup run will be high on their list of targets to compliment their league ambitions.
One win in their first four Premier League games didn't quite tell the whole story as they looked a solid unit who were squandering chances and they were rewarded with a 1-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield at the weekend.
Liverpool were poor and were missing their most creative players but it did show Southampton are a very capable outfit.
They were heavily beaten by Leeds and Chelsea in the Cups last year but they're in a much better position to challenge now after bolstering their squad in the summer with the arrivals of Dejan Lovren, Victor Wanyama and Pablo Osvaldo.
Again, the draw will play a big part in their fate but at least they have a home tie against Bristol City in the third round and if they do progress to the latter stages they won't fear anyone.