12/1 Sunderland can spring a Carabao Cup upset on Wednesday night, says our Andy Schooler.
Five Carabao Cup ties take place on Wednesday night, each has a hot favourite and the acca pays less than 6/4.
It may well be popular and indeed deliver, but it’s not something I'm interested in.
The third round of the League Cup is often fraught with danger for the Premier League big fish and it’s not hard to see at least one of the quintet at the very least being taken to extra time – remember that acca price requires the job to be done in 90 minutes.
Everton look the most vulnerable, going up against Championship side Sunderland at Goodison Park.
The visitors can be backed at 12/1 in 90 minutes which, given the problems currently facing the Toffees, has to be worth some small change.
A summer of singings and general positivity has quickly faded away and a poor start in this one will quickly see the crowd on the Blues’ back.
That upbeat mood around the club came despite the sale of their most influential player, Romelu Lukaku, but in the early weeks of the season it has become worryingly clear that boss Ronald Koeman has not got a decent plan about how to play without their spearhead.
None of the new boys can be regarded as a like-for-like replacement with an abundance of midfielders being constantly rotated in what appears to be a bid to stumble across a solution.
Following a run of four straight losses, with no goals scored, these are worrying times for Koeman, who now finds himself second favourite in the Premier League ‘sack race’.
The pressure is well and truly on for a result here but that brings its own problems and it’s almost certain that Saturday’s home league game against Bournemouth will be prioritised - no surprise given the Toffees sit inside the relegation zone.
There’s still plenty of quality in the squad with the likes of Under-20 World Cup winners Ademola Lookman and Jonjoe Kenny set for a game here but Koeman’s men showed last year that a host of changes in this competition can prove problematic – on that occasion they were beaten 2-0 at home by Norwich.
What perhaps sums up the mess Koeman and co have got themselves into is that Oumar Niasse is set for role in this game, more than a year after being told by Koeman he had no future at the club.
To be fair to Niasse, he impressed during a loan spell at Hull last season but it is a sure sign of how desperate Everton are for goals right now.
Sunderland will doubtless make changes too – they are also in need of league points after a tough start to life under new boss Simon Grayson – but then Norwich fielded a virtual reserve side at Goodison in that contest 12 months ago.
Grayson got a response from his side with a battling 1-1 draw at Hull on Saturday and with little pressure on his men here, the 12/1 is too tempting to turn down.
I’m also keen to side with Nottingham Forest in some way for their trip to Chelsea.
This is a competition in which the Premier League champions have struggled somewhat in recent years.
Last season they scraped past Bristol Rovers 3-2 before an extra-time win at Leicester was followed by defeat to West Ham.
In 2015/16, they lost to Stoke and despite going all the way in 2015 they had to really fight to claim one-goal victories over Bolton and Shrewsbury in the early rounds.
There’s plenty of relevance there in terms of lower-league opponents and Forest have already shown their ability to cause an upset, winning 3-2 after extra time at Newcastle in the last round. They have also beaten the much-fancied Middlesbrough in the Championship.
Their upset of Newcastle came despite plenty of changes to their line-up but this is a squad which has improved under Mark Warburton in recent months – former Hibs striker Jason Cummings was one of the replacement who came in at St James’ Park and he duly scored twice.
Chelsea will also rotate their squad, although how much real depth it has these days is open to debate. While Eden Hazard gets much-needed game time, Kenedy is set for a rare outing and Antonio Conte also looks set to blood youngsters Charly Musonda and Kyle Scott.
Forest look a good price in the handicap markets where they can be backed at 9/4 with a two-goal start and a shade of odds-on on the +3 line. The latter is the one for me.
Manchester United host Championship side Burton in the televised game but I’m not that enthused by this one as a betting heat.
Again, there will be changes but United’s free-scoring form (they have scored at least twice in every game this season) means the anytime scorer market could be worth a second look.
Two names stand out here – Anthony Martial and Marouane Fellaini.
Martial has scored three goals already this season despite starting only two games and he looks a prime candidate to play up front in this one. He’s 10/11.
Fellaini, who has two goals in his last three games, is also tempting at 5/2. The problem is whether he gets a start.
He’s stood in for Paul Pogba in recent times and will likely have to do so again at the weekend. Nemanja Matic will also miss out in this one though which could be good news for Fellaini – my advice would be to check the team news before placing any bet.
I’m more tempted to back a Manchester City player to score at any time at a West Brom outfit managed by Tony Pulis, who has a miserable record in the League Cup during both his time here and at Stoke.
City have banged in six, four and five in their last three games and also have a fine record against the Baggies, winning the last 11, including the last five at the Hawthorns.
Those matches have seen the following scorelines: 4-0, 3-0, 3-1, 3-2, 2-1.
With history showing Pulis has little time for this competition, it���s easy to see City’s super squad rolling to another easy victory.
The question is who will score the goals?
Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have played plenty this far and look primed for a rest so perhaps Raheem Sterling will get a chance to play through the middle. If that’s the case, 2/1 is too big.
However, I’m going to take a chance on youngster Phil Foden at an even bigger price.
The 17-year-old earned huge praise in pre-season from boss Pep Guardiola after his display against United in the US.
“It’s a long time since I saw something like this,” enthused the Spaniard. “His performance was another level. He’s 17 years old, he’s a City player, he grew up in the academy, he loves the club, he’s a City fan and for us he’s a gift."
High praise indeed for a player who likes the ‘number 10 role’ linking between midfield and the forwards.
Foden, who drew a couple of good saves from David de Gea in the aforementioned game, has a decent scoring record at youth level and given the supply lines available in City’s team – ones that are likely to include the returning Ilkay Gundogan – 43/10 about him finding the net is worth taking with the Unibet/888sport stable.
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Posted at 1645 BST on 19/09/17.