Leicester to Outfox the Blades in Carabao Cup

Leicester face an away trip to Sheffield United in the Carabao Cup.

Leicester face an away trip to Sheffield United in the Carabao Cup.

Those Premier League clubs that are not in Europe join the Carabao Cup at the second round stage this week, and there are a number of games on the midweek coupon. The newly-renamed EFL Cup was won by Manchester United last term to give Jose Mourinho a first trophy at the club, but it hasn’t always been taken seriously by all concerned.

It’s far from unusual for clubs to rest players in these early stages, and it’s not a phenomenon that is restricted just to the top-flight teams. Many Championship and Football League sides have also been known to rest players in order to concentrate on the ultimate prize of promotion, and that makes these early rounds a bit of a minefield. There are sure to be one or two upsets and shock results, but the second-tier of Premier League clubs that are not competing in Europe tend to see this competition as one which they could go far in. The ideal for them is to get the result with a second-string side and avoid injuries, before getting back to the bread and butter of league football at the weekend.

With that in mind, we’ve assessed all of the fixtures and come up with a choice of bets over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday night.

Sheffield United v Leicester

The live TV match on Tuesday night features Leicester at Sheffield United, and the visitors are worth backing at -105  with Winner Sports.

No doubt the Foxes will make plenty of changes, but there is still enough quality in their ranks to come away with victory and a place in the third round. It should also be noted that while this might have been set up by the TV producers for an upset, that means Leicester will be keen to avoid embarrassment on the night.

Sheffield United have made a decent start back in the Championship after promotion from League One last term, winning two and losing two, but they are without striker Leon Clarke who was red-carded against Barnsley at the weekend. Ched Evans could make his first start for the club since 2012, but will surely be short of match fitness.

Birmingham v Bournemouth

Bournemouth are another Premier League side we like the look of at a generous +116  with 888Sport and Unibet.

The Cherries have lost both games in the top flight so far this season, and Eddie Howe is almost certain to make changes. However, Jermain Defoe is likely to make his first start since joining from Sunderland, and he can be a thorn in former manager Harry Redknapp’s side.

The Blues boss has only managed one win in the Championship this season, and he has never been shy to play a second-string side in cup competitions. Of course, playing against a Premier League side is a big occasion, so his team will be up for the challenge, but the Cherries won 2-1 here in an FA Cup tie in 2016 and a similar outcome would be no great shock.

Cardiff v Burton

At shorter odds, Cardiff are riding high at the top of the Championship table after four wins out of four, and they can beat fellow second-tier side Burton on home soil at -189  with Paddy Power.

By contrast Burton have lost three out of four Championship games, and needed a late winner to grab a 3-2 win away at Oldham in the previous round of this competition.

Cardiff boss Neil Warnock is set to bring in several players who contributed to the win over Portsmouth in the last round, but opposite number Nigel Clough is also making a variety of changes, so home advantage should count for the Bluebirds.

Cheltenham v West Ham

Wednesday’s live TV game sees the Hammers travel to Cheltenham, and although the Sky pundits will be looking for a giant-killing, we’re siding with the Premier League club at -233  with 32Red.

West Ham were unlucky not to get something from their match at Southampton at the weekend. Mark Arnautovic was sent off in the first half, but the ten men fought back from 2-0 down to level at 2-2, before giving away an injury-time penalty and losing 3-2. That makes it consecutive defeats for Slaven Bilic, and a victory will be highly desirable just to boost the confidence a little ahead of the weekend’s games. It won’t be a full-strength team, but they should have plenty in reserve to take on League Two Cheltenham – who are struggling at the foot of the table.

Huddersfield v Rotherham

Finally Huddersfield can continue their dream start to the season by progressing to the third round at the expense of Rotherham. The best odds are -263  with 32Red and 888Sport.

The Millers were relegated from the Championship last season as the Terriers went up, and they are mid-table in League One after just one win and two defeats.

Huddersfield are pinching themselves in 2nd place in the Premier League after consecutive wins over Crystal Palace and Newcastle. Coach David Wagner is sure to rest some of his ‘first-teamers’ but Huddersfield are a strong side on home soil, and beat Rotherham both home and away last season.

Tips Summary

Leicester to beat Sheffield United
Tuesday 22nd August, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  -105

Bournemouth to beat Birmingham
Tuesday 22nd August, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  +116

Cardiff to beat Burton
Tuesday 22nd August, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  -189

West Ham to beat Cheltenham
Wednesday 23rd August, 19:45 GMT
Odds: -233

Huddersfield to beat Rotherham
Wednesday 23rd August, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  -263