Luton Town vs. Leicester City
The third round of the Carabao Cup brings together second tier Luton Town and an in-form Leicester City at Kenilworth Road. Despite teetering above the drop zone in the Championship, The Hatters have been involved in some fantastically high scoring and enthralling games this season, a whopping 88% resulting in over 2.5 goals with goals flying in at both ends. Their solidity at the back is a cause for concern, donning the worst defensive record in the league, conceding 16 goals over 8 matches, an average of 2 per game. The gung-ho officionado’s will be coming into this cup tie at a relatively low ebb after Hull City ran out 3-0 winners following a second half capitulation last Saturday afternoon.
On the other hand, Leicester City arrive on the back of a hard-fought victory against Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs, having to come from behind to claim a 2-1 win after an early Harry Kane goal put the visitors in front. The 2015/16 Premier League champions have started the domestic season in fine fashion, wedging themselves in between Manchester City and Arsenal in 3rd position in the league, Brendan Rogers will certainly have his sights set on breaching the exclusivity of the so-called ‘Top 6’.
No doubt the Northern Irishman will have earmarked this competition as a potential avenue for silverware, but with a chance to steal a march on the faltering top 6 he will most likely want to give his star performers a well-earned break from action in order to keep them fresh, still remaining confident of progressing past an opponent of significantly lesser stature. Nifty Spaniard Ayoze Pérez could lead the line with Marc Albrighton and Demarai Gray hoping to bump up their playing time, providing ammunition and guile from either flank.
Taking into account the somewhat unpredictable nature of a cup tie, I do envisage a fairly cruisy run out for a Leicester team still packed with talent and superior quality to that of a leaky Luton Town side, who’s defensive frailties will ultimately see them swept aside in tonight’s matchup.
Monaco vs. Nice
A trip to the principality now for a potentially captivating clash between a struggling Monaco side and a resurgent Nice.
The dizzying heights of a Champions League semi-final in 2017 are all but a distant memory as ‘Les Rouges et Blancs’ are currently languishing at the basement of the French top division having retained Ligue 1 status by the skin of their teeth last campaign. Despite being stripped of their most prized commodities in Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappé amongst others, Leonardo Jardim’s side still possess a real plethora of quality spearheaded by a robust vanguard of Islam Slimani and Wissam Ben Yedder, both of whom have found the net on 3 occasions this season.
A strikingly high percentage of fixtures involving these 2 sides have seen over 2.5 goals scored (92%), 9/12 of said fixtures resulting in both teams to score and over 2.5 goals. Somewhat uncharacteristic of a Nice side who were resolute and notoriously low scoring last season, ‘Les Aiglons’ have netted 10 times already and are yet to keep a clean sheet – looking susceptible at the back. Interestingly, all 6 of Nice’s previous fixtures have produced a 2-1 score line either way, and there’s more than enough evidence to suggest that a similar outcome will be on the cards tonight.
Nice have made a few shrewd acquisitions to supplement their forward line, shelling out around €20m for 21 year old Dane Kasper Dolberg who bagged 33 goals in 78 appearances for Ajax, definitely not a record to be snaffled at. The loan signing of Algerian attacking midfielder Adam Ounas from Serie A outfit Napoli should also provide some well needed flair and craft.
Both teams sporting a propensity for goals paired with lacklustre defending should be indicative of an open and entertaining affair awash with goal scoring opportunities.
Luton vs. Leicester, Leicester to win and over 2.5 goals – 11/10 @ bet365
Monaco vs. Nice, Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals – 6/5 @ bet365