It’s the Capital One Cup quarter finals in midweek and there looks to be a touch of value about both Merseyside clubs as they prepare for tough away trips on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. While Premier League clubs have often shown disdain for this competition, fielding weakened teams in early rounds, now that we’re at the business end of the competition and a trip to Wembley is in sight, they big teams tend to show much more interest.
On Tuesday night Manchester City play at home to Hull, while Stoke also have a ‘winnable’ home game against Sheffield Wednesday; although they must be careful not to underestimate the side that has already knocked Newcastle and Arsenal out of the competition. Everton face a tough away trip to the Championship’s second placed side in Middlesbrough, and Liverpool face an even tougher away game at Southampton the following evening. However, there are reasons to believe that both Merseyside clubs are capable of winning through to the semi finals, and both are available at attractive prices to do so.
Middlesbrough v Everton
The Toffees have been on a good little run under Roberto Martinez recently, and they are unbeaten in the last five games. It has been the manner of their performances which have caught the eye though, with a young dynamic team playing swift and attractive attacking football. They’ve smashed six past Sunderland recently as well as four past Villa, and were a little unlucky not to win at the weekend after putting three goals past Bournemouth.
The 3-3 draw with the Cherries was an incredible game, with two goals scored deep into injury time. Bournemouth’s equalizer came in the 8th minute of five minutes of injury time, so Everton could be entitled to feel a little aggrieved, although Eddie Howe will obviously believe that his side deserved a change of luck. However, the positives for Everton are that they are playing good football and scoring plenty of goals – they’ve also only lost once away from home since the start of the season.
Middlesbrough invested well in the summer in an attempt to go one better than the play-off place they earned last year, and make the step back up to the Premier League. It’s all going to plan so far and they sit 2nd in the Championship after 18 games. They’ve won five of the last ten in all competitions and performed heroics to knock Manchester United out of the competition at Old Trafford. The warning signs are all there for Everton, and they cannot afford to underestimate this team. Indeed, Middlesbrough have won 8 and only lost 1 of the last ten home games, and furthermore they’ve kept six consecutive clean sheets at the Riverside. However, the calibre of sides they’ve faced – QPR, Fulham, Leeds, Charlton, Rotherham, and Wolves – are nowhere near the quality of this Everton team.
Southampton v Liverpool
On Wednesday evening Liverpool are worth a shout at +190 with BetVictor to outperform Southampton at St. Mary’s.
The ‘Pool are entering a new era under respected manager Jurgen Klopp, and the differences are starting to show already. The club has been infused with a new-found confidence, and the way they took Manchester City apart at the Etihad was exceptional stuff. There will be ups and downs along the way as Klopp invests his strategies and style of play into the squad, but they have now won six of the last seven games in all competitions, with the only defeat the shock 2-1 result at home to Crystal Palace.
There is a growing theory that Klopp’s side are better equipped to deal with away games rather than matches at Anfield where the opposition often put men behind the ball to make it hard to break them down. Away victories have been a feature of this year’s Premier League, and although this one is a cup game, the same principles can apply. Liverpool have won the last three (very difficult) matches away from home, at Chelsea, Manchester City and Rubin Kazan in the Europa League. They should have nothing to fear from Southampton, who they have beaten on each of their last two visits here.
The Saints aren’t having the exceptional season that they did last year, but after a slow start they have gradually dragged themselves up the table, and currently reside in 10th position. They’d actually been on a great run which had seen them win six of eight matches, but back-to-back defeats against Stoke and Manchester City have brought them crashing back down to earth. They’ve already lost three times at home in this season’s Premier League – to Manchester United, Everton and Stoke – from the seven games they’ve played at St. Mary’s.
Southampton were playing with a new-found freedom and enthusiasm under Ronald Koeman last season, and they were in the upper reaches of the Premier League for most of the year. That is hard to emulate for a second season running, and it’s Liverpool who are playing with that ‘feel-good factor’ at the moment under the influence of Klopp.
This could very well be a tight game, and both managers will be keen to provide some silverware for their clubs, especially Klopp in his first season in charge. It follows then, that both managers are likely to select strong teams for the game, and with Liverpool playing so well at the moment they are worth following at a very decent price.
Everton to beat Middlesbrough
Tuesday 1st December, 19:45 GMT
Liverpool to beat Southampton
Wednesday 2nd December, 19:45 GMT
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