Hernandez to open the floodgates

  • By: Ben Coley
  • Last Updated: September 26 2012, 11:21 BST

Our Ben Coley is backing Javier Hernandez to mark a return to Manchester United's starting XI with a goal.

Javier Hernandez should be backed to score first

It should be a case of by how many for Arsenal this evening as they host Coventry in the Capital One Cup.

Much is made of the absence of trophies in North London but there is no denying the record of Arsene Wenger's side in the early rounds of cup competitions, and for punting purposes that's really all that matters here.

You have to go back a decade for the last time they were eliminated at this stage of the League Cup, and even that came after they uncharacteristically blew a two-goal lead against Sunderland at Highbury.

Coventry, who sit 23rd in npower League One, are going to find life exceptionally tough. They've not won since the first round of this competition - extra-time was needed in round two - and have lost each of their last four in the league.

The question is, can we find a way of siding with Arsenal and getting good value for money? The answer looks to be in the handicap markets. Arsenal can be backed at 1/2 to win conceding a goal start, but we'll go a step further and take 11/8 that they win conceding Coventry two goals.

It's easy to view that price as too short on the face of it, given that we'll need Arsenal to score at least three for this bet to land.

But closer inspection suggests that 11/8 is more than fair, especially as Arsenal's last home game saw them fire in six against Southampton, while Coventry conceded four at Stevenage.

It's fair to say that this won't be the same Arsenal XI that beat Saints 6-1, but Theo Walcott, Andrey Arshavin, Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey are all possible starters while Arsenal's youth system continues to produce excellent talent - watch out for Serge Gnabry in particular.

And similar strength sides have been far too good for their opposition in recent years.

If we ignore 2010, which saw Arsene Wenger name a strong side to knock out Spurs in extra-time, Arsenal have beaten Shrewsbury (3-1), West Brom (2-0), Sheffield United (6-0), Newcastle (2-0), West Brom (0-2), Sunderland (0-3) and Man City (1-2) in their first League Cup game of the campaign over the last eight years, and it's reasonable to rank this as their easiest assignment on paper.

All things considered, I'd expect Arsenal to score a minimum of three tonight and Coventry shouldn't pose too much of a threat to a defence set to include promising pair Ignasi Miquel and Nico Yennaris.

The tie of the night sees Manchester United host Newcastle, and although United are fancied to edge through the match prices don't offer much value.

Instead, we'll back Javier Hernandez to open the scoring at 9/2.

The Mexican is set to return to Sir Alex Ferguson's starting XI for just the second time this season, with his sole start producing a goal, albeit the second in the game, against Wigan.

Newcastle were lucky to concede just two at Everton in their last away game, and with James Tavernier and Vurnoon Anita likely to fill the full-back positions the likes of Danny Welbeck could have space to feed Hernandez from the flanks.

Our selection started the league meeting between this pair at Old Trafford last season and opened the scoring, indeed his record of doing so when starting for United (domestic games only) reads a remarkable 11 from 40.

Consider that United have scored 13 in their last five and that he's likely to play through the middle on his own in a free-flowing game, and 9/2 about him improving that record further rates good value.


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