THE EFL Cup semi-finals takes centre-stage this midweek. We asked Tom Love (@TomLove_18) to source the best bets from the second leg of Manchester City v Manchester United on Wednesday night.
Manchester City v Manchester United | Wednesday 29th January 2020, 20:00 | Sky Sports
Manchester City ran riot at Old Trafford in the first leg of this eagerly anticipated League Cup semi-final. The game ended 3-1 to the Blue Moon and in all honesty it could’ve been more given their sheer dominance, a 70th minute Marcus Rashford strike means there’s an outside chance of United pulling off a miracle similar to that of last season in Paris in their stunning Champions League comeback.
It looks a bit of a stretch though given their current inconsistencies. Losing to Burnley was another blow and every time the Red Devils lose the pressure mounts on the hierarchy at the club. It looks like the Bruno Fernandes prospective transfer has once again stalled and they desperately require some quality in midfield, as well as a number nine. It’s just a bit of a mess and the lack of a sporting director doesn’t help matters.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made the point that his side were still in fifth in the table and although true, it’s not the full story. I can’t quite believe my eyes when looking at the standings, they are fifth but they’re only on 34 points from 24 games. It’s a bizarre situation.
As WLB colleague Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) pointed out a few days back, Solskjaer has won just 12 of 32 Premier League games and his 38% win ratio is the worst since 1937! Usually that volume of points at this stage of the season sees a side sitting mid-table so I’m not having any of this table talk.
Pep Guardiola has admitted defeat in the title challenge and he will be after a different kind of treble with this cup, the FA Cup and the Champions League still up for grabs. For that reason I expect him to go pretty strong here in order to see the tie off.
With Aymeric Laporte returning to full fitness it is hoped the Frenchman will sure up a defence that has been more porous than expected without him. However, I don’t expect Pep to bring him fresh in here with the Champions League returning soon. Erik Garcia has done a decent job in this competition and could hold his place.
Going forward though the options are plentiful. Pep can bring Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne into the side here. He also has the choice between Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus at the top of the pitch. Even if United to score and scare the Etihad it’s difficult to see the hosts not bagging a few themselves.
The betting angles
It’s always a conundrum finding a bet in the second leg of a cup tie when one team already has a fairly comfortable lead because motivation to attack, playing style and line-ups can be hard to predict. That being said there are two angles that do interest me.
Marathon go odds-against on the second-half being the Highest Scoring Half and that looks a fine bet given the dynamics. United will have to come out and attack at some point but I cannot see them going all out from the get go. Their best port of call could be to hold off until the second-half and then try and hit their rivals.
City will be happy to keep the ball one would imagine and it could see a bit of a stand off in the first-half with not much going on. If it plays out like that then you’d imagine the chances will start to come for both sides as the game opens up and that makes this a unique but fascinating play. A safer play could be the 37/50 from the same firm on Over 1.5 Second-Half Goals.
I’m also willing to have a punt on the next prodigy coming through at United. With Marcus Rashford out Mason Greenwood could come in to give United that pace on the break. He’s a special player, you can just tell by his movement and ball striking ability that the Bradford-born frontman is an England player in waiting. He has a lot of confidence in himself and is never afraid to have a pop at goal.
Bet365 go 4/5 on Greenwood attempting over 1.5 shots and if he starts that looks like a generous line. He has only started the two Premier League games but still has four goals to his name already. In the Europa league he has started five times and averages 2.80 shots per-game in that competition.
As mentioned, United have to go for it at some point and even if he doesn’t start and comes on with half an hour to go I could still see this landing given they have to score at least twice.