LEAGUE Two’s Luton entertain Premier League Stoke in the second round of the Capital One Cup on Tuesday. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) explores the best betting options.
Luton v Stoke | Tuesday 19.45 | Sky Sports 1
Luton’s ante-post odds halved over the summer as punters (including me) saw potential for the Hatters to go the distance in League Two. John Still’s troops began their 2014/15 campaign like a train following promotion but soon ran out of gas in the final third and following heavy investment, a top-three challenge was (and is) the least we expect.
But the season hasn’t gotten off to the greatest of starts for Luton. Their 3-1 win against a second string Bristol City side in the first round of the Capital One Cup is their only victory from five with a 3-2 loss at injury-hit Yeovil on Saturday a real concern. The Hatters had led 2-0 in that fixture and Still was rightly upset with the manner of the defeat.
Worryingly, Still was at a loss to explain their winless league form at the weekend (W0-D2-L2) and having been outplayed by Bristol Rovers in a 2-0 defeat at Kenilworth Road last Tuesday, fans are understandably a little subdued over the arrival of Premier League outfit Stoke, in front of the live television cameras on Tuesday night.
But like their hosts, the Potters have found the going a little tougher than we might have assumed. Mark Hughes is overseeing a transitional phase, bedding in plenty of new faces, and Stoke were outplayed for long periods of their 1-1 draw at Norwich on Saturday. With an opening day defeat at Liverpool and draw at Spurs, the visitors are chasing their first win of 2015/16.
Hughes and the board at the Britannia should be outlining the League Cup as a potential route to European football and I’m sure all Stoke fans would enjoy a decent cup run. Since arriving in Staffordshire, the Welsh boss guided the Potters past the first two rounds in both seasons, fielding a strong side in each outing.
Stoke have now reached the fourth round of the competition in six of the past seven attempts and although we were treated to a catalogue of cupsets in the first round of the Capital One Cup, looking over the past four years of action, Premier League teams do tend to fare well against their lower league opponents.
In fact, top tier sides have returned a mightily impressive W33-D8-L13 from 54 second round meetings with lower league teams in the past four seasons. That’s a win rat of 61%. Stoke are a best price 8/11 (Bet365) to win in 90 minutes on Tuesday night and those odds reflect just under a 58% chance of success, so going on previous Premier League performances, the Potters are a value bet.
Throw in the fact there are three divisions between the two teams and 8/11 doesn’t look that bad a bet, especially when you compare it to the standard price of weekend league fixtures. The odds of Stoke winning at Luton are actually bigger than what we were offered on Man City beating Everton on Sunday and Chelsea defeating West Brom on the same day!
It may not make us rich overnight but I’m happy enough suggesting Stoke to win away at Luton at 8/11 with Bet365 is the best available bet on the live Sky Sports encounter. The Hatters clearly need time to find their feet and Premier League quality should shine through at Kenilworth Road. If you are chasing something a little bigger, Bet365 are offering 4/5 on the visitors netting Over 1.5 Goals – they’ve done so in five of their last six League Cup second round ties.
Luton v Stoke – Stoke to win (8/11 Bet365)
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