What a triumph it would be for Hull City, amongst their myriad of trials and tribulations this season, to somehow complete a remarkable comeback against Manchester United in this EFL Cup semi-final and overturn the 0-2 deficit from the first leg.
Goals from Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini ensured the Red Devils will take a handsome lead into Thursday’s second leg at the KCOM Stadium, but as we know football is a funny old game….the Tigers won’t give up a fight.
But Jose Mourinho knows that a trophy in his first season as United manager, however relevant or otherwise the EFL Cup is, will help to win over his detractors. After his decidedly awful last six months in charge at Chelsea, the Special One wants his halo back.
So will this be a routine Manchester United victory, or can Hull City bite back? Here is the pick of the EFL Cup betting tips:
Mourinho laid down a marker in the first leg by naming a nigh-on full strength side, with the likes of David de Gea, Phil Jones, Juan Mata and Paul Pogba all starting, and being just 90 minutes away from a Wembley showpiece we expect the Portuguese gaffer to name a similarly strong starting eleven.
His counterpart here Mike Phelan will simply do what he can to get eleven players onto the pitch. His thin squad has been further depleted by injuries suffered by Ryan Mason – who thankfully appears to be on the mend after that sickening clash of heads with Gary Cahill last week, Curtis Davies and Markus Henriksen.
Robert Snodgrass also missed out at Stamford Bridge – the optimists suggesting he was resting for this match, the cynics observing that his head may have been turned by transfer talk linking him with a move elsewhere – and so the Tigers are down to the bare bones at present. They will be dogged, determined and impassioned in front of their own supporters, but in football those adjectives can only take you so far.
Manchester United haven’t lost a game since October 23; Hull have won just three times in the same period. We have to fancy an away win here, although at a best price of 8/15 the bookmakers aren’t really cutting us much slack.
So our pick is United to Win & Both Teams to Score at 11/5 (Paddy Power). Hull have notched in four of their last five outings, with the Red Devils keeping just one clean sheet in their last five attempts. If this match goes as we expect, United will net a couple of goals either side of half time to break Hull’s spirits, but then take their foot off the gas – enabling the Tigers to strike.
Attuned to our first selection above is Over 2.5 Goals (7/10 with bet365), which should land if our projection of this fixture is correct.
For any side taking on Hull, the Anytime Goalscorer market is an excellent one to explore. Even with man-mountain Harry Maguire at the heart of their defence, the Tigers have shipped in all but one of their outings this term. There’s a certain element of guesswork regarding team selection here, but with equal stakes we can turn a profit if two (or more) of Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata find the net.
Manchester United to Win & Both Teams to Score (11/5 with Paddy Power)
Over 2.5 Goals (7/10 with bet365)
Wayne Rooney Anytime Goalscorer (7/5 with Betfair)
Marcus Rashford Anytime Goalscorer (6/5 with William Hill)
Anthony Martial Anytime Goalscorer (21/10 with Coral)
Juan Mata Anytime Goalscorer (9/4 with Betfred)