Carabao Cup Quarter-Final Betting: Everton to keep on rolling
Andy Schooler previews the two non-televised Carabao Cup quarter-finals and he's keen on Everton to continue their improved form under Duncan Ferguson.
Toffees can gain quick revenge
Everton3.00 v Leicester 2.52; The Draw 3.65 Wednesday 18 December, 19:45
Having beaten Chelsea and drawn with Manchester United under Duncan Ferguson's leadership, Everton look worth a nibble at 3.00 to beat Premier League high-fliers Leicester.
As ever with the Carabao Cup, you have to wonder exactly which players will take to the pitch but what does seem likely is that Everton will make fewer changes.
Yes, they remain very much in a relegation battle but Ferguson - part of the last Everton team to win silverware in the 1995 FA Cup final - knows the Blues' fans crave a trophy and he won't be messing about with his selection.
He may have little choice either. Theo Walcott and Morgan Schneiderlin both missed the draw at Old Trafford with calf injuries, while Lucas Digne limped off early. At least Djibril Sidibe and Gylfi Sigurdsson may return after illness, although the hosts will still be a bit light in midfield where Mason Holgate impressed as stop-gap on Sunday.
As for Leicester, Brendan Rodgers made nine changes in the last round at Burton and while so many seem unlikely this time out, still expect several players not getting a regular game to be handed a run-out.
The Foxes' next two league games are Manchester City (away) and Liverpool (home), opponents who will truly test their top-four credentials.
Rodgers, whose side's nine-game winning run was halted at home to lowly Norwich on Saturday, will need his best XI available for those so it's not hard to see Kelechi Iheanacho starting at Goodison Park ahead of Jamie Vardy, for example, while Marc Albrighton and Demarai Gray are among the others ready to step up.
If this is indeed the case, an Everton team with confidence renewed look capable of avenging the agonising injury-time defeat suffered at Leicester just over two weeks ago.
The players appear to be working harder under Ferguson - tackling stats are certainly up considerably - and backed by a sell-out crowd under the Goodison lights, they look decent value to claim the win.
Wait for it at Old Trafford
Manchester United1.14 v Colchester 26.00; The Draw 10.50 Wednesday 18 December, 20:00
Consistency remains a huge problem for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United.
Currently sixth in the Premier League, United have taken 13 of a possible 15 points from games against the sides above them but just 12 from the 12 matches against those ranked below.
That was summed up at the weekend when, having beaten Spurs and Manchester City back-to-back, United were held at home by Everton.
So how will they fare against opposition further down the league structure?
If their third-round showing against Rochdale is anything to go by, badly could be the answer.
Solskjaer's men only just scraped past the League One side on penalties, despite fielding a decent-enough side which included Paul Pogba.
Now they face a side from League Two, one who always seem to be just outside the play-off spots.
Colchester are unbeaten in six in the league and have conceded just 19 goals in their 20 games in the fourth tier.
Having managed not to concede to Premier League Crystal Palace or Tottenham in previous rounds (both ties were won on penalties), the Essex side may well be capable of making this an awkward night for the hosts, who look likely to give the likes of Axel Tuanzabe, Brandon Williams and Andreas Pereira starts after they all began Sunday's game on the bench.
As in previous rounds, it should still be a fairly strong United team, one unlikely to be disjointed given the squad players have been getting regular game-time in the Europa League.
The hosts should win but may have to work hard against a well-organised visiting team, who have shown they are capable of snuffing out a decent attack.
A half-time correct score of 0-0 at 5.10 may have some legs in it.
United have failed to score in the first half of three of their last seven Premier League games (four of 10 in all competitions) and needed 68 minutes to break down Rochdale in September.