MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) shares his thoughts from Wednesday night’s EFL Cup action.
Luton v Aston Villa | Wednesday 19.45 | Sky Sports 1
This season I’ll be contributing selected content to 188BET to coincide with their sponsorship of our weekly Football League column.
And so I’ve written a match preview for 188BET on Wednesday night’s televised EFL Cup tie here.
QPR v Swindon | Wednesday 19.45
I think I speak on behalf of all who watched Sunday’s live Championship encounter between QPR and Leeds – the R’s richly deserved the three points and it was a hugely promising performance.
Of course, opening weekend results and displays tend to have little bearing on the final day standings but after a rigorous pre-season, it was great to see Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s squad dominate proceedings.
However, Sunday’s score is unlikely to have any impact on this League Cup showdown with the Rangers boss confirming he’ll rotate his relatively small squad for the visit of Swindon.
Conor Washington, Joel Lynch and Nasser El-Khayati are all in contention for a starting spot whilst new signing Yeni Ngbakoto is available for a debut. Although the cash has come for QPR this week, I’m treading very carefully.
Hasselbaink’s media comments don’t strike me as a man that’s desperate to progress and Rangers have a shameful record in this competition.
This decade the R’s have been beaten in six of their nine League Cup duels whilst five of the past six teams to eliminate the Londoners have been from the third-tier or below – more than enough reason to believe Swindon could cause an upset.
The Wiltshire raiders have won four of their last five League Cup first round ties and started their season with a welcome 1-0 win over Coventry on Saturday thanks to Iraqi international Yasser Kasim’s late goal.
A team that like to keep possession, make the pitch big and play out from the back, the Robins will relish the occasion with manager Luke Williams reiterating to the local press that there’s no pressure on the League One visitors here.
Williams has encouraged his troops to play with freedom, enjoy the encounter and be confidence on the ball. So even though centre-half Raphael Branco is absent, as well as ineligible QPR loanee Michael Doughty, the guests can call upon new signings Lloyd James and Luke Norris and attack the Hoops.
Of the 28 clubs that faced opponents at a lower-level in Tuesday night’s action, only 13 (46%) progressed and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Swindon enhance that record here.
The +0.75 Asian Handicap angle would see us only lose half our stake should the Robins lose by exactly one goal with the second part returned as a push. However, a win or draw for the visitors would see our selection paid out as a winner.
Fleetwood v Leeds | Wednesday 19.45
As already alluded to above, Leeds made a desperately disappointing start to 2016/17 on Sunday when being completely out-played in a 3-0 defeat at Loftus Road.
The result leaves Garry Monk’s men rock-bottom of the Championship but the two-time League Cup finalists can bite back on Wednesday night when they travel to third-tier Fleetwood.
The Whites have W11-D1-L0 in their 12 first round League Cup ties since Premier League relegation – a supremely strong stat that ties in nicely alongside Fleetwood’s return of four successive first round exits.
The hosts picked up a creditable 1-1 draw with Northampton on Saturday in ex-Leeds boss Uwe Rosler’s first fixture but with many tipping the Cod Army to struggle this season, overcoming a Leeds outfit that’s desperate to bounce back might prove a tall order.
Leeds will rest and rotate but the likes of Liam Cooper and Alex Mowatt are capable characters and should be supported by new signing Pablo Hernandez in a side that’s good enough to justify 13/10 (BetVictor) odds with victory at Highbury.
QPR v Swindon – Swindon to score Over 0.5 Goals (4/6 Boylesports)
QPR v Swindon – Swindon +0.75 Asian Handicap (9/8 188BET)
Fleetwood v Leeds – Leeds to win (13/10 BetVictor)