George Pitts looks ahead to Wednesday's three quarter-final clashes in the Carabao Cup, with a best bet and key stats for each.
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Oxford United v Manchester City
- Live on Sky Sports at 1945 GMT
With the Premier League slipping further and further out of their grasp, City will be keen to secure silverware and the cup holders, although much changed, should still be pretty strong here.
It is a good opportunity for young midfielder Phil Foden to get more minutes in the first team. He impressed with a goal in the Champions League against Dinamo Zagreb last week and the 19-year-old can get his third strike of the season here.
He has shown his eye for goal and had two shots in the previous round against Southampton, one of those on target. But in the round before that, he had three against Preston, rattling the woodwork with one of them.
With one of Rodri, Fernandinho or Gundogan likely to be alongside him in the midfield three, he should have plenty of license to roam forward. With confidence high and against a lesser opposition, the 11/4 price on him to find the back of the net looks worth taking here.
Best bet: Phil Foden to score anytime at 11/4
Key Opta stats
- Oxford United and Manchester City met last season in the League Cup third round, with City winning 3-0 at the Kassam Stadium; it is their only previous meeting in the competition.
- Since losing to Man Utd in October 2016, Man City have lost none of their 14 matches in the League Cup (W10 D4 L0), winning the competition in each of the last two campaigns.
- Oxford United manager Karl Robinson has eliminated Premier League opponents five times in his managerial career, seeing his side score exactly four goals in every match – MK Dons 4-3 Blackpool (League Cup, 2010), Norwich 0-4 MK Dons (League Cup, 2011), QPR 2-4 MK Dons (FA Cup, 2013), MK Dons 4-0 Man Utd (League Cup, 2014) and Oxford 4-0 West Ham (League Cup, 2019).
- Oxford United’s eight goals in the League Cup this season have all been scored via different players (Brannagan, Sykes, Henry, Moore, Taylor, Fosu-Henry, Baptiste, Hall).
- Sergio Agüero has been directly involved in 15 goals in 14 appearances against non-Premier League opponents in domestic cup games for Manchester City (12 goals, 3 assists).
Everton v Leicester
This all-Premier League tie is a great opportunity for either club to reach the semi-final of a cup competition and we should see both field reasonably strong sides.
Everton have had a mini revival under Duncan Ferguson and Leicester are being relied on by most of the country to at least pressure Liverpool and keep the title race interesting.
They do, though, face Man City in the Premier League on Saturday, followed by Liverpool on Boxing Day, so Brendan Rodgers may have one eye on a big week of football.
With the predicted teams for this one in mind, there could well be goals and the winner may need to score at least a couple to take one step closer to Wembley.
As improved as the Toffees have been in recent weeks, a trophy for Brendan Rodgers in his first year with the Foxes (the final is just four days after their one-year anniversary) would be impressive and the feeling is they can come out on top here, even with a few fringe players looking to impress on the night.
With this in mind, the odds-against price on Leicester to bag a couple looks great value and, after it would be good to see this team at least get a trophy for their efforts this term. But, due to their potential league distractions, we would prefer to give this one a miss in terms of the staking plan.
Best bet: Leicester to score 2+ goals at 6/5
Key Opta stats
- Leicester have won three of their last five away matches in all competitions against Everton (W3 D0 L2), as many as they’d won in their previous 24 visits to Goodison Park beforehand.
- Leicester City are into their third League Cup quarter-final in as many seasons – they have lost on penalties in the previous two, both against Manchester City. The Foxes last reached the semi-final in the 1999/2000 campaign, going on to win the trophy.
- Brendan Rodgers has progressed from 28 consecutive domestic cup ties (one with Liverpool, 24 with Celtic, three with Leicester), last failing in the FA Cup semi-final with Liverpool in April 2015 against Aston Villa.
- Everton are looking to eliminate two fellow top-flight teams in the same League Cup campaign for the first time since the 1986/87 season, when they eliminated Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday.
- Leicester forward Kelechi Iheanacho has been involved in nine goals in 12 League Cup appearances (6 goals, 3 assists), averaging a goal or assist every 80 minutes of play in the competition.
Manchester United v Colchester
- 2000 GMT kick-off
United had an almighty scare in their first Carabao Cup game of the season, when Sky Bet League One Rochdale took them to penalties at Old Trafford.
Another EFL side visits here and fourth-tier Colchester have nothing to lose. They will look to cause United trouble just like Dale did back in September.
Still, United should still be comfortable winners even with a rotated side. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are unbeaten in their last six now and a cup win would be ideal for the Norwegian with their top four hopes still in the balance.
With the odds stacked in their favour, it is always good to look at some stats in favour of the underdogs. With the score a big ask, they can at least look to trouble the Red Devils and Sky Bet's odds-against price on Colchester to register at least three corners catches the eye (3/1 for them to have four or more is incredibly tempting).
Teams like this usually have a brief spell where it looks like they may score and the opposition gets nervy and three corners is not a big ask for a team that has had 18 corners in their last three league games (albeit against lesser opposition). Eight of those came in one away game and the stats show the Essex side are partial to a set piece or two, so why not at Old Trafford?
Best bet: 3+ Colchester corners at 6/4
Key Opta stats
- This is only the third ever meeting between Manchester United and Colchester United – the Red Devils won the other two, 1-0 in the FA Cup in 1979 and 2-0 in the League Cup in 1983.
- Manchester United have been eliminated from three of their last five League Cup quarter-finals, losing most recently in 2017/18 against Bristol City.
- Manchester United have progressed from all 10 of their previous League Cup ties against fourth-tier opposition, most recently in October 2011 against Aldershot Town.
- Colchester have already eliminated two Premier League teams in the 2019/20 League Cup – Crystal Palace in the second round and Spurs in the third round. Only one fourth-tier team has eliminated three in one season, with Bradford City doing so in 2012/13 on their way to the final (Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa).
- Man Utd manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has progressed from all four of his League Cup ties as a manager – two with Cardiff City in 2014/15 and two with Manchester United this season.
- Colchester are looking to become the first English side from outside the top-three tiers of English football to win away at Manchester United since Portsmouth in a January 1907 FA Cup first round replay – Pompey were then a non-league side.
Odds correct as of 1900 GMT on 17/20/19
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