Our writer previews the fourth round of the 2016/17 EFL Cup.
The EFL Cup will come back into play on Tuesday evening with a couple of mouth-watering encounters taking place in the fourth round. We down to 16 teams and even though most of the English giants field second string teams, a Liverpool and Tottenham encounter is always going to turn heads, while Manchester United and their city rivals Manchester City will lock horns for the second time this season. Let's find out below what we can expect from this round's enticing set of matchups.
Tuesday 25 October
Bristol City 12/10 | Draw 47/20 | Hull City 21/10
Fifth in the English Championship Bristol City are in fine form, having lost just one of their last five games – 2-1 to Cardiff City. Tammy Abraham has been in top form, tearing defences apart since his loan move from Chelsea this August, bagging eight goals in 12 appearances for the Robins. Bristol have beaten quite average teams in this cup run, all of which have been away from home, against Wycombe Wanderers (1-0), Scunthorpe United (2-1, after extra-time) and Fulham (2-1).
Hull City kicked off this season, shocking English champions Leicester 2-1 followed by wins over Swansea and Exeter City. But the seven games that followed weren’t easy at all, losing five of them to Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and most recently a humiliating 6-1 loss to Bournemouth. Strikers Abel Hernandez and Adama Diomande have just got a goal each for the eight games they have featured in, at the time of writing. Bristol City are worth a play at 12/10.
Newcastle United 5/10 | Draw 31/10 | Preston North End 52/10
The Magpies lost back-to-back games against Fulham and Huddersfield Town to begin the season, but then got down to business, winning the next six games in all competitions. They experienced a hiccup losing 2-0 at home to Wolverhampton, although they did dominate possession in the encounter. Newcastle marched on from that and are unbeaten in the last five games, at the time of writing. The Tyneside club are in free-scoring form, having netted 30 goals in 14 games.
Preston North End are inconsistent this season. Of the first 12 games they have begun with, five were won and six lost. However, Simon Grayson’s troops have pulled up their socks and are now five games unbeaten, including a 2-0 victory over Aston Villa, which sealed Roberto Di Matteo’s fate getting the sack promptly after. Rafael Benítez has invaluable experience in cup competition, back the Magpies at 5/10.
7/4 Leeds United | Draw 9/4 | Norwich City 15/10
Leeds are in decent form of late, winning five and losing two of their last seven games. Gary Monk’s team have scored 16 goals and conceded 16 across all competitions. They have had a lucky run in this cup, defeating Fleetwood Town on penalties and narrow 1-0 wins over Luton Town and Blackburn Rovers. New Zealand centre forward Chris Wood is their most prolific goalscorer this season, netting five times in 11 appearances.
Norwich are doing fantastic in the England’s second tier. They began the campaign undefeated in five games, before being humbled by Birmingham City 3-0. The Canaries bounced back well, winning seven of the next eight games. The only blemish in recent results was the memorable 4-3 loss to Newcastle United, where Norwich conceded two goals in stoppage time. In this cup, they smashed Coventry City 6-1 and surprisingly got the better of Everton during the last round, coming off 2-0 victors. Nelson Oliveira, Steven Naismith and Robbie Brady have too much quality between them; the away win is tipped confidently.
Arsenal 1/4 | Draw 47/10 | Reading 17/2
Arsenal are absolutely buzzing at the moment, playing excellent attacking football. The Gunners are in a rich vein of form with six wins on the spin, scoring goals at will. They’re undefeated in the last 10 games, winning eight times. Due to fixture congestion, Arsene Wenger will surely rotate his squad for this fixture against unfancied Reading.
The Royals have been decent this season, however, any team Wenger selects should roll them over easily. Jaap Stam’s team kicked off this competition with a 2-0 win over Plymouth Argyle followed by 2-2 draw against MK Dons winning on penalties, as well as a 2-1 win away to Brighton & Hove Albion. Reading goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi will have his work cut out, back the Gunners in this clash.
Liverpool 7/10 | Draw 28/10 | Tottenham 36/10
Spirits at Anfield are high, they are playing flamboyant football and scoring goals for fun. Jurgen Klopp has been named Premier League Manager of the Month for August. The Reds have only lost a single game all season, a 2-0 defeat to stubborn Burnley. They are now unbeaten in eight games with six wins, at the time of writing. The Reds have scored 15 goals in the last six games.
Spurs are on a six-game unbeaten streak, having kept four clean sheet in that run. Son Heung-Min was named Premier League Player of the Month after fabulous showings in September, his form has made Harry Kane’s absence bearable. Spurs thrashed Gillingham 5-0 in the last round. It promises to be a humdinger to liven up this usually dreary cup competition. This one is too hard to call, easiest way to go will be to back Both teams to score at 7/10.
Wednesday 26 October
West Ham 33/10 | Draw 28/10 | Chelsea 15/20
The Hammers have been finding it hard to replicate the type of football they played and results they accomplished last season. This has largely been down to the form of their strikers, none of whom have found the net to date. Injuries have also hindered their progress with Ghanaian star Andre Ayew suffering from a thigh muscle strain. West Ham have won three games, drawn two and lost six of their 11 games, across all competitions to date.
Chelsea have won seven of their 10 games played in all competitions this season, including a 2-1 victory over West Ham in the first game of the season. Diego Costa has been in splendid form and there won’t be much need for Conte to rotate his squad as Chelsea don’t have European football this season. They come into this round after defeating Leicester in 4-2 extra-time due to the brilliance of Cesc Fabregas coming off the bench and bagging himself a double. The Blues will be targeting any silverware they can get their hands on and are tipped to win at 15/20.
Southampton 4/10 | Draw 34/10 | Sunderland 6/1
The Saints are enjoying a good run of form under new manager Claude Puel, the only blemishes to their season have been losses to Premier League giants Manchester United and Arsenal. They are unbeaten in the Europa League, a competition their opponents Sunderland are not involved in. Southampton are unbeaten in the last seven games, conceding just one goal in that period, a Sam Vokes penalty. Virgil van Dijk and Jose Fonte are proving to be a formidable duo, even if teams get past their central defensive partnership, the man between the sticks Fraser Forster is in fine form as well, only conceding seven goals in the 720 minutes he has played to date.
David Moyes’ Black Cats are struggling and are the only team yet to win in England’s top-tier. They have only won two games this season, both coming in this competition beating Shrewsbury Town 1-0 (Sunderland’s only clean sheet to date) and Queens Park Rangers 2-1. Both these sides are tipped to cancel each other out in 90 minutes at 34/10.
Manchester United 15/10 | Draw 9/4 | Manchester City 7/4
The Red Devils began the season well, but suffered losses to Manchester City, Feyenoord and Watford in the space of three games. They have bounced back and are now unbeaten in five games, winning three and with back-to-back draws against Stoke and Liverpool. This game comes after United play Robin Van Persie’s Fenerbahçe in the Europa league and travel to Stamford Bridge for a league clash with Chelsea. The Red Devils have enough depth in their squad and this run of fixtures will be a true test of Jose Mourinho and his troops.
Doubts are setting in the blue side of Manchester as City are winless in the last five games after their excellent start to the season. They conceded three goals in a draw against Scottish champions Celtic in the Champions League, suffered their first loss of the season 2-0 at White Hart Lane and missed two penalties in their recent 1-1 draw at home to Everton. The Manchester Derby also comes after tough games for the Citizens, a Champions League showdown with Barcelona at the Nou Camp as well as a disappointing 1-1 home draw against Southampton. The sides met in September when City won 2-1 at Old Trafford thanks to goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho. It will be exciting to see what part 2 of the Manchester Derby has in store. One thing I know is that there will be goals, with Both teams to score tipped at 15/20.
Written by Bryan Naicker @Hollywoodbets