By Lee Dover
The menu for the Capital One Cup ties tonight features a couple of games where upsets could well be on the cards, as well as a tasty all-Premier League affair and a good ol’ derby clash.
Here’s where we reckon you should consider placing your money to be quids in by the end of the night.
Leeds v Southampton
Southampton will definitely be pleased to see a break in proceedings in the Premier League.
The south coast team have had their backs up against the walls ever since the first whistle of the 2012/13 campaign. The club have only won one game in the league – albeit a convincing 4-1 home victory over Aston Villa.
However, it has been a whole different story in the Capital One cup when they eased past Sheffield Wednesday to set up a juicy fourth-round tie against Leeds United.
The Whites are eager to give Southampton another reason to curse their recent bad fortunes though.
‘There’s no league points at stake and we’ll have a go at them’, said boss Neil Warnock. ‘The fans created a tremendous atmosphere at the last game and while there might not be the same numbers this time, the crowd will have a part to play’.
Reading v Arsenal
It may not sound like an epic all-Premier League tie on paper, but the Capital One Cup match between Reading and Arsenal could well end up being a game for the ages.
Arsenal have been struggling to hit the right notes on the pitch. They lost 1-0 away from home against Norwich, tasted their first Champions League defeat of the season courtesy of a 2-0 loss against Schalke 04, and were unconvincing in their gritty 1-0 home win against ten-man QPR.
Can Wenger stop the slide? Paddy Power is offering 5/6 that Arsenal will cruise into the Capital One Cup final eight, while odds of 10/3 are up for grabs for Reading to give The Gunners something else to moan about.
Sunderland v Middlesbrough
No sooner have Sunderland fans had time to digest their 1-1 home draw against their bitter rivals Newcastle United than the club welcome another neighbour to the Stadium of Light.
Middlesbrough take the short trip up the A19 to face the Black Cats, less than 12 months after the two teams threw everything but the kitchen sink at each other over two feisty FA Cup ties.
Sunderland will be confident that their home form will be enough to keep Boro at bay. They have only been beaten once at the Stadium of Light since April and that was a 1-0 loss to Manchester United.
Swindon v Aston Villa
Despite being two divisions apart, there is little to separate Swindon and Aston Villa in the betting for this tie.
Swindon are a mere 11/5 to record a historic win over their Premier League opponents, with Paulo Di Canio’s men already claiming a top flight scalp in the tournament in the form of Stoke City.
Looking into what a victory over Villa would mean for his club, Di Canio mused: ‘Better than having sex with Madonna? Let me try it and I will give you an honest answer’.
Not sure if the Material Girl would take up the challenge, but it may be worth backing a Swindon win to bring this dream a step closer to reality.
Wigan Athletic v Bradford City
On paper, punters will be forgiven for putting a few bob on the price of 3/10 for Wigan Athletic to cast aside Bradford City in the Capital One Cup and ease through to the tournament’s final eight.
However, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez is not getting ahead of himself, saying ‘Every game is a big game now’. ‘Getting into the final eight is a fantastic prize for Bradford and for ourselves. We’re going to get 5,000 supporters from Bradford and that’s going to make it a big game’.
With such a huge and rowdy away crowd, fans cannot totally count out the odds of 8/1 that League Two’s surprise outfit Bradford will shock their Premier League hosts and bag a famous victory tonight.