The competition known as the English Capital One Cup has been to Mark Hughes under its various guises and the Stoke boss is on the record as saying that he thinks the Potters could go all the way in this season’s knockout tournament.
Hughes has fielded strong Stoke sides in the English Premier League team’s defeats of English League One outfits Tranmere and Walsall to reach the English Capital One Cup third round and his comments suggest that he will fire up the Potters to slay English Championship struggler Birmingham on the road.
A trip to Birmingham should hold no fears for a half-decent English Premier League side such as Stoke, with Blues having won only one of their last five games. Ignore the fact that Birmingham eliminated last term’s English Capital One Cup winner, Swansea, to reach the third round. Swansea dropped the ball and chose to focus on its English Premier League and UEFA Europa League, thereby allowing Birmingham to beat it 3-1 at St Andrew’s. The raw result flatters Birmingham.
Stoke ran Manchester United very close at Old Trafford last time out and, while getting results at the Theatre of Dreams is easier than it has been for a couple of decades, that form line is sufficiently good to support backing the Potters at odds of 2.05 with BetVictor, to beat Birmingham.
One of the keys to successful betting on English Capital One Cup matches is identifying teams, particularly those playing away from home, that may not be as motivated as their rivals and, appropriately, two sides from London fit the bill.
First, West Ham is hovering just around the English Premier League drop zone and, unlike Stoke manager Hughes, Hammers boss Sam Allardyce has not expressed great love for the English Capital One Cup. West Ham defeated only third-tier Crewe in last season’s English Capital One Cup, bowing out when it entertained then fellow English Premier League side Wigan at the Boleyn Ground. Wigan walloped West Ham 4-1 and it would be no surprise if the Hammers suffered a similar fate away to English Championship leader Burnley.
Burnley has strung together eight straight wins across all competitions and surely Clarets manager Sean Dyche will not want his team’s impressive sequence to come to an abrupt halt as a consequence of fielding a below-strength side.
Most bookmakers have framed their English Capital One Cup third round markets with Burnley as the underdog against West Ham, with Stan James offering odds of 2.75 about the Clarets being victorious in 90 minutes.
Second, Fulham’s priority is to maintain its English Premier League status and a deep run in the English Capital One Cup may be incompatible with that objective. Fulham required extra time to knock out fourth-tier Burton in the first round and then rode its luck versus Everton in the second round. Fulham boss Martin Jol put out a decent Cottagers team against Everton, most probably because he was under pressure to secure a first home win in seven matches. Jol may not be so able to burn out Fulham’s starters away to Leicester, the English Championship’s second-placed side.
Leicester has won each of its last seven home games across all competitions – the last five matches by two goals to one – so Fulham fans would cop their team losing to the Foxes without calling for Jol’s head. That was not the scenario that the Dutchman faced going into Fulham’s English Capital One Cup home tie against Everton. That is important to know.
Bookmakers have marked Leicester as the favourite to win its English Capital One Cup third round clash versus Fulham in 90 minutes. Unibet are offering odds of 2.55 about Leicester, which seems more than fair. Fulham has lost three of its last four road games without scoring a goal, with the exception being its 4-1 victory at Crystal Palace when the Cottagers scored two unbelievable goals and found themselves playing one of the English Premier League’s worst-ever teams. Fulham does not travel well as a rule.
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