The Artist Formerly Known as the Coca-Cola Cup is back for it’s third round and ohh, feel the excitement drain out of the room. In a competition worth as much as Sarah Palin’s opinion good punts can be few and far between but fear not, punt-hungry friends – we are here to help.
Games like Villa v Birmingham may seem as obvious as a ‘John Terry will shag your girlfriend’ joke, but with the various managers giving a crap of various sizes, results can be unpredictable. Is the gaffer going to put out the kids and benchwarmers and save his first team for the all important battle for 12th in the league this weekend? See – it’s a minefield of lazy metaphors.
Gestede (Villa v Birmingham), McCormack (Fulham v Stoke) and Keane (Preston v Bournemouth) all to score in 90 minutes – 22/1
Aston Villa v Birmingham
The battle for the worst team in the West Midlands begins a new chapter tonight as Aston Villa and Birmingham go head-to-head for the first time since the 2010/2011 season. While Villa have the ability of a Mariah Carey performance Rockefeller Center in 2014 they should have enough in the tank to see off the challenge of a fairly poor Birmingham side. Backing any Villa goalscorer is more dangerous than signing up for an Ashley Madison account, but Rudy Gestede at 11/2 to be first goalscorer or 13/8 to score at anytime looks good. If you fancy Irishman Englishman Irishman Whocaresman Jack Grealish to continue on from his rather nice goal against Leicester, he’s a tasty 7/1 to find the onion bag first, 13/5 to do it at anytime.
For Villa’s deadly rivals they have started reasonably well in the Championship, but as much as it would pain the fans, the players and the manager know that the quicker they get out of this competition the better. They are capable of pulling off a shock, but the reality is that Villa should beat them handy enough. If you do think that the Blues will add another giant-killing to the list of famous cup upsets Clayton Donaldson is the man to back. Three goals in seven games makes him top scorer for the club and at a delicious 2/1 to score at anytime in the 90 minutes, he’s surely worth a punt.
Fulham v Stoke
Fulham can pull this one off. They’ve had a shite start to the season, but this is the type of game they could win to delude themselves into thinking things are starting to turn around. The Cottagers are lying 16th in the table with a measly eight points from seven games, but with Ross McCormack in their ranks they have a proven goalscorer. At 11/2 to be first goalscorer and 21/10 to score anytime, he is far and away the best bet if you’re going down the goalscorer market. Four goals from seven games is a very good return in a football team equivalent to an Adam Sandler movie. If you’re looking for slightly longer odds Tom Cairney is at a lovely 16/1 to bag the game’s first goal and 6/1 to score one at any stage. For a guy with three goals from midfield they’re great odds.
Preston v Bournemouth
Preston are at 3/1 to win this one mainly because they’re sitting 22nd in the table. That sounds about as appealing of letting David Cameron babysit your pet micro-pig, but they have a decent side. Daniel Johnson is on fire for Preston with three goals so far this season, including in his last game against Brentford. At 7/2 to score at anytime in the game, he’s a great shout. If you don’t want to risk a midfielder to open the scoring Will Keane is a very decent 13/2 punt to net first and 15/8 to score anytime.
Bournemouth have done well since they went up and should have gotten something from the Liverpool game. They will be high on confidence after beating Sunderland 2-0 and that Matt Ritchie goal. Callum Wilson has scored five so far this season including the hat-trick that messed with a lot of fantasy football managers. A 9/2 shot to open the scoring looks promising, but Junior Stanislas scored twice against Jeff Stelling FC in the last round and he’s a big 11/4 to score in this game.