The early stages of the season can be a minefield for punters as form across the leagues slowly settles down. Just one game into the EFL season as we are presented with the first round of the newly-renamed Carabao Cup, in which teams from the three divisions of the football league compete. Premier League clubs will join in the tournament in later rounds. The latest incarnation of the League Cup, which was won by Manchester United last term, is under the sponsorship of drinks company Carabao.
It’s only been three days since the start of the new football season for Championship, League One and League Two sides, but they are tasked with a competitive cup match on Tuesday or Wednesday night – putting an early strain on fitness and squad depth. The timing of this round is sure to be a factor in the number of shock results seen at this stage, and it’s worth looking out for one or two giant-killers in this week’s matches. Last season, for example, Birmingham were knocked out at home by Oxford, Cambridge United got the better of Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich were beaten at Portman Road by Stevenage, and Aston Villa lost out to Luton.
Two of those sides feature in a game of interest on Tuesday night as Luton host Ipswich. The Hatters made a hugely impressive start to their League Two campaign on Saturday, thumping Yeovil 8-2 in a ten-goal thriller. Promotion is the ultimate aim this year after missing out last term. Ipswich also made a good start to the season, winning their Championship opener against Birmingham 1-0. Survival will be the Tractor Boys first target, and a play off challenge beyond that. Luton beat Aston Villa at this stage of last year’s competition and went on to run Leeds very close in the next round. They could be a shrewd bet to claim the scalp of a local East Anglian rival on Tuesday evening.
Likewise, Lincoln showed an aptitude for Cup competitions last term, following a dream FA Cup run alongside their promotion from the National League. The Imps made it all the way to the FA Cup quarter final, and although they were thrashed 5-0 by Arsenal, it was an incredible effort which saw Lincoln beat Ipswich, Brighton and Burnley on the way. An away trip to Rotherham – relegated from the Championship last season – is Lincoln’s task, and this will be first appearance back in the Football League Cup after promotion from the National League last season. The Imps are a big price to pull off another shock.
Luton v Ipswich
First up it’s Luton and we’re advising small stakes at odds of 17/102.70+1701.701.70-0.59 with BetVictor and Betfred.
Ipswich are a pragmatic club under Mick McCarthy and surviving on a budget is the name of the game for the experienced manager. Last season at the first stage of this competition the Tractor Boys lost 1-0 at home to Stevenage, and it’s not always such a surprise to see Championship clubs drop away early in this tournament. Those that are focused on survival or promotion (across all three divisions) can be forgiven for using the full depth of their squads in the cup matches, and this round falls very close to the opening game of the season. Smaller clubs meanwhile, often see the cup competitions as valuable cash cows, and even a run through two or three rounds can bring in big money.
Luton are among the favourites for the League Two title and started in no mean fashion as they demolished Yeovil 8-2. On home ground they are a formidable side, and Ipswich will have a tough game under the lights on Tuesday. The Suffolk side earned three points at home on the weekend, but will find things tougher on their travels and could be due for an upset here.
Rotherham v Lincoln
Rotherham were relegated meekly last season, and started League One with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Fleetwood. Lincoln are a big price to shock the Millers at 13/53.60+2602.602.60-0.38 with Bet365 and Unibet.
It would be a big achievement for the Cowley brothers in charge of the Imps to get a win away on Tuesday evening, but they are capable of beating a struggling Rotherham team. The Millers were relegated long before the end of the season last term, dropping out of the Championship with a meagre 23 points. A handful of wins in preseason will have given them some confidence, but a 2-0 defeat at Fleetwood was the worst possible start. A first home game of the season should be an opportunity to get a win, but Lincoln are a tough side – as they demonstrated by coming from behind to draw 2-2 away at Wycombe on their League Two bow at the weekend.
Either side might rest players for their respective league campaigns, but one suspects that these two teams are not too far apart in terms of quality, and may find themselves playing in the same division next season. Lincoln are a value call on a night that is sure to throw up one or two giant-killings.
Peterborough v Barnet
Finally Peterborough and Barnet can be backed to combine for over 2.5 goals at 7/101.70-1430.70-1.430.70 with 32Red and Marathonbet.
Only two of Peterborough’s last ten games have had less than three goals, while four of Barnet’s have gone under the line. The former beat Plymouth 2-1 in their opening League One game, while the latter drew 2-2 with Forest Green as they began their League Two campaign. There are few ‘very strong’ bets at this time of the season, but this is a match that looks certain to have goals.
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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