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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Midweek Football Picks 2015 (October 27-28)

The Capital One Cup takes centre stage this week as we have reached the Fourth Round of the competition and the Quarter Final draw will be made at the end of the Wednesday night games.

It has been a strange competition in that it feels like the top teams don't take it that seriously, yet the likes of Birmingham City and Swansea City winning the League Cup have been rare underdogs having success over the last decade.

Both Chelsea and Manchester United have won the League Cup three times each in that time, while Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester City have also taken home the first piece of domestic silverware in the last eleven years.

You can see many of the top teams are still involved in the League Cup this season too and it looks like a competition that will produce a very strong end with potential top class Quarter Finals, Semi Finals and then a Final.

Of course the big question is what kind of teams managers will put out this week as there will be rotation amongst the Premier League and European commitments, so it is always wise to perhaps keep an eye out on the team news that is released ahead of these games.

I have wrote a few thoughts from the Premier League this past weekend which includes Tim Sherwood's firing, Chelsea's continuing problems, Arsenal's title challenge, North East troubles and the questions surrounding Wayne Rooney. That can be read here.

I'd always recommend keeping stakes to a minimum when it comes to the League Cup at this stage with managers still likely to make plenty of changes to keep their players fresh. Once we reach the Quarter Final it is a different story as those games are played in December once the European commitments are completed although still two weeks before the hectic schedule over Christmas and the New Year.

Everton v Norwich City PickThe Capital One Cup can be a difficult competition to get a read on because of the lack of team news ahead of these ties. The fact is that managers will make changes to their first teams, but some may many more than others, and so it can be difficult to make predictions prior to that team news being released.

I do think Roberto Martinez has less of a reason to make changes than Alex Neil as Everton will see the Capital One Cup as a genuine trophy they can win. On the other hand Norwich City won't be overly concerned about any deep Cup runs this season with the Premier League being the priority.

Previous Rounds have shown Everton make fewer changes than Norwich City and home advantage may be key as the latter have lost 5 of their last 8 away ties in the League Cup. It might be close, but Everton should have enough to come through.

Liverpool v Bournemouth PickThere might be a lack of confidence in both dressing rooms at the moment and that makes for a fascinating League Cup tie on Wednesday in front of the television cameras.

Jurgen Klopp has urged his team to relax as much as possible to ensure results come their way, but Liverpool have had a knack of conceding and they are simply not scoring enough to overcome that. Players are also returning from injury which is producing some inconsistent performances, but I do think they have the more recognisable starting eleven in this fixture.

The Premier League is the priority for Bournemouth and I think they will decide to play a few more fringe players. That will give Liverpool the edge, but the nerves in the home team might make this a tighter game than expected when the team news is perhaps released.

Any kind of win will do for Liverpool at the moment and I think they do finally get back to winning ways by the narrowest of margins this week.

Manchester City v Crystal Palace PickManchester City are pretty big favourites to win this Fourth Round Capital One Cup tie, but I really don't know whether they should be favoured to win the game as easily as the layers expect.

There is plenty of quality in the Manchester City squad even without David Silva and Sergio Aguero, but they are off a very tough Manchester derby and have had one less day than Crystal Palace to prepare for this one. Manuel Pellegrini has played a strong team in the League Cup through his time as manager, but he might not risk some of his players that had to battle on Sunday and that gives Crystal Palace a chance.

In his time with Newcastle United, Alan Pardew did give the League Cup his attention and the Premier League form means Crystal Palace can do that this season. Don't forget it was Pardew's Newcastle United that won at The Etihad Stadium last season in this Round of the League Cup and I think Crystal Palace will cause problems in this Fourth Round tie.

Backing the away team to keep this competitive by backing them with the Asian Handicap start looks like it will give us a run this week and I think Crystal Palace may even spring a big surprise.

Southampton v Aston Villa PickThe League Cup isn't always seen as a positive for some managers, but Ronald Koeman was playing a strong team in the competition last season and has clearly got a real belief that Southampton can go far in it this time around.

They should be too strong for an Aston Villa team that is lacking direction and with a group of players whose confidence has been pummelled in each passing week. The uncertainty of who is going to take over and the pressure of the Premier League results are all going to play a part and I think it would take something special for Aston Villa to get a result here.

Saido Mane is out for Southampton, but they still have plenty of attacking threats and The Saints have been scoring plenty of goals which is going to be tough for Aston Villa to match.

To be fair to Aston Villa they have been competitive in away games and only once been beaten by more than a single goal margin in recent weeks. That includes blowing a 0-2 lead at Leicester City in a 3-2 defeat and I don't want to underestimate their chances of producing a performance to give Southampton some problems.

However, the sacking of Tim Sherwood has to play a part even if the manager was shifting the blame of recent results on his players rather than himself. Maybe that frees up the players, but I am not convinced and I expect the better team playing at home to win this by a couple of goals.

Manchester United v Middlesbrough PickLouis Van Gaal played a strong Manchester United team in the Capital One Cup Third Round just days after a Sunday Premier League game so there is the potential he does that again this week. It was a tough Manchester derby that was played on Sunday, but the Dutch manager looks keen to right the wrongs of a poor League Cup defeat at the MK Dons last season.

He will make some changes as the likes of Daley Blind, Michael Carrick and Memphis Depay come in with the Premier League game at Crystal Palace in mind, but I do think a strong Manchester United eleven will take the field.

I do think Aitor Karanka will play a strong Middlesbrough team too as he looks to give his players a chance to impress against one of the biggest names in world football. However, the Championship is his priority and Middlesbrough may go the same way as Ipswich Town in this Fourth Round tie.

Manchester United have won 1 of their last 4 games in all competitions and I think Louis Van Gaal will want to get back to winning ways here. Some players will be rested in anticipation of big games coming up, but I think Manchester United will be too strong on the evening and are able to win this by a couple of goals.

Defensively they have remained sound and Middlesbrough have been struggling for goals of late. I'd keep an eye on team news in case there are vast changes made by the home team, but I think Manchester United will cover the Asian Handicap.

MY PICKS: Everton @ 1.70 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Liverpool to Win by One Goal @ 4.00 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Crystal Palace + 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.83 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Southampton - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Manchester United - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Bet365 (1 Unit)

October Update15-21, - 8.31 Units (65.50 Units Staked, - 12.69% Yield)
September Final29-30-3, + 4.18 Units (117.5 Units Staked, + 3.58% Yield)
August Final16-31-1, - 24.34 Units (94 Units Staked, - 25.89% Yield)

Season 2015/1616-31-1, - 24.34 Units (94 Units Staked, - 25.89% Yield)
Season 2014/15159-208-5, - 20.22 Units (647 Units Staked, - 3.13% Yield)
Season 2013/14164-185-3, + 15.84 Units (577 Units Staked, + 2.75% Yield)

Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

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