Over the past ten seasons, the League Cup has produced 17 cross-division quarter-final ties and the Premier League side has been dumped out in nine of them, seven inside 90 minutes. With that in mind, there’s really no reason to be shying away from a couple of upsets that appeal on this week’s Capital One Cup coupon.
For starters, you can get 2/1 about Middlesbrough beating Everton at the Riverside, and that’s fair enough. But on an equivalent value basis, we could do better by dividing our interest between two separate bigger-priced outcomes that best reflect how Aitor Karanka’s men go about their business. We might land one, we might land both. Either way, we’re buying into Boro at their most effective.
Since the beginning of last season, the Teessiders have won 44 matches inside 90 minutes, 30 of them (68 per cent) have been by the Middlesbrough/Middlesbrough half-time/full-time method and 27 of them (61 per cent) have been win-to-nil victories, while on 16 occasions they have landed both bets simultaneously. Based on those figures, it’s worth taking more of a risk and pursuing those particular avenues if you fancy Boro to prevail.
Granted, Everton aren’t your average Championship fodder but neither is this a step into the unknown for the home side. Over the past 15 months, Middlesbrough have visited Anfield, the Etihad, the Emirates and Old Trafford in knockout competition and they’ve conceded just four goals in seven hours of football. So they certainly know how to set their stall out and it’s hardly far-fetched to believe they can maintain that resistance of 105 minutes per goal in front of their own fans.
Roberto Martinez has a curious record when it comes to cup competitions. An FA Cup winner with Wigan, his managerial career is littered with a string of limp exits against inferior opposition. The Toffees have triumphed in just four out of 12 cup matches (over 90 minutes) under the Spaniard and they’ve already been taken to extra time by Barnsley and Norwich in this season’s competition.
Mark Hughes has a hideous cup record against lower league opposition. The Potters were dumped out of the FA Cup 4-1 by Blackburn last season, having also struggled against non-league Wrexham, which follows on from prior embarrassments at the hands of MK Dons, Nottingham Forest and Brighton during previous tenures working with big budgets at QPR and Manchester City.
If Wednesday take the cautious route and play with the handbrake on, which has worked wonders for them up to this point, they are well capable of landing the 8/1 available on a win-to-nil victory. Stoke have one of the lowest shot ratios in the Premier League at 40.1 per cent. They’ve failed to find the net in six of their 14 league matches, while they’ve nicked four of their five victories by a 1-0 scoreline.