Last season's Carabao Cup runners-up Aston Villa travel to Burton Albion on Tuesday night, and Alan Dudman is backing a shock result at the Pirelli...
"Backers of the League One team would certainly have made a healthy profit since 2016 with all of their EFL Cup games."
Burton Albion v Aston Villa
Tuesday 15th September 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Football and Main Event
All change at the Pirelli, but can the good years continue?
Times have changed at the Pirelli following Nigel Clough's departure in the summer. Jake Buxton, who was the long-time heir apparent under mentor Clough, has been given his chance at management at a time when the club have had to cut their cloth accordingly.
Buxton's most difficult task was to persuade some of his senior players (and new signings) to take a reduced salary in these Covid-hit times. Buxton will be hoping to build some momentum on the pitch too, but they are an extremely well-run club who have punched well above their weight between League One and the Championship. They've also played some excellent football on the way.
Their progress to the second phase of this competition came courtesy of a 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory against Accrington Stanley. But they do have previous, they were beaten in the semi-finals by Manchester City in 2019 - one of Clough's finest achievements.
New signings, but can we expect another Cup run from Smith's men?
The financial plight of Burton hasn't quite been replicated at Aston Villa, with manager Dean Smith breaking the club's transfer record following the addition of Ollie Watkins from Brentford for £28million. Watkins will give the attack a much-needed boost, and he joined Matty Cash, touted as one of the "best young prospects in Britain" by Smith, as one of the new signings at the Midlands club.
Deals for Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez and Lyon forward Bertrand Traore could also be likely.
Whilst Villa survived in the Premier League on the last day of the season, their Carabao Cup campaign was a complete triumph. A blitzkrieg of goals in every round got them to the final - only to lose out to Manchester City at Wembley.
Smith has spoken of the great tradition of the club in the competition, and it's important he recognises that fact as five-times winners. However, Premier League survival trumps that surely? Will he have Sheffield United in mind for the weekend?
Burton have enjoyed a fine record in this competition in the last four seasons, and with some of the bigger clubs perhaps not seeing a run in the Carabao as imperative, the Brewers have cleverly targeted the early rounds to progress - and of course boost the finances.
Backers of the League One team would certainly have made a healthy profit since 2016 with all of their EFL Cup games. They have won 12 out of 17, and five of their seven ties at home. They've beaten a few top-flight teams along the way too, and even beat Villa in 2018.
The outright win of Burton at 7.26/1 does stir a bit of interest, especially as they have already played in three competitions, where as Villa have yet to kick a competitive ball following the postponement of their Manchester City game. And those factors won't have me lining up to take some of the 1.330/100 on offer for an away victory. It's too short, especially as their defence was one of the leakiest in town last season.
Therefore I think there is some mileage in backing Burton here at 5.24/1 in the Draw No Bet market.
The hosts were known for the fluid passing style and movement under Clough, and Buxton looks as though he has tried to carry that on with his comments, and also their attacking intent at Fleetwood last weekend. They had plenty of chances, but they also looked open. But then a lot of teams do in the third tier.
The hosts have John-Joe O'Toole suspended and a couple of injuries with Neal Eardley and Charles Vernam ruled out, but it's a price that offers a bit of interest in terms of shock potential.
Villa usually deliver goals in the Carabao
With a glance at the Over/Under 2.5 market late on Monday night, it was entirely understandable that the Over 2.5 price was the shorter of the pair at 1.845/6, a figure that seems more than fair judged on Villa's record.
Lest we no forget; they conceded 67 goals in the top flight last term - second only to Norwich. Whilst their record in the Carabao Cup was one of excitement. Six of their seven matches hit the Over target, and that included a hammering of Crewe (1-6), and a big success at Brighton (1-3).
According to Opta; Villa scored more goals than any other side in the League Cup last term (with 20).
Marry that with Burton's sloppy defensive play at the weekend from set-pieces, I was expecting around the 1.664/6 mark for the bet.
If you are playing on the BTTS, you'll get 1.910/11 for 'Yes' - and Villa hit that six times in their run to the finals last season.
Watkins could be popular for possible debut
Villa's record signing Ollie Watkins was the joint-top scorer in the Championship last term with 26 goals, and he'll be eager to impress Smith with a starting berth in mind for Sheffield United this weekend. His price at 2.186/5 was the shortest on offer in the To Score market, and that could alert the layers considering the Villa forwards only scored six of the team's 41 goal output in the PL last term. It's certainly a laying price.
Back Burton Albion Draw No Bet @ 5.24/1 v Aston Villa
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.824/5