Arsenal were frustrated by Middlesbrough at the weekend, something that was all the more remarkable given their rampant performance in the Champions League a few days before. An interesting fact from the 'Boro game for Arsenal was that, despite having 75% of the possession, they managed one fewer shot than their more lowly visitors.
Reading shouldn't really cause Arsene Wenger and his men too many problems - they narrowly beat Rotherham at the weekend, but that was their first 3pts in five games. That's no sort of form to be taking to the Emirates. Yet, of course, it depends on the type of team Wenger fields. If just a few of their superstars play they should get past Reading, who concede well over a goal a game on average, fairly easily.
Sound the POTENTIAL UPSET klaxon! Hull are in terrible nick despite their bright start, and have now lost five in a row in the league, and won none of their last seven. They have the worst defence in the division by a distance (22 conceded already), and have scored just three since they last won a game, way back on August 20th.
Bristol City, on the other hand, are flying high in the Championship and secured a win against Blackburn at the weekend. That's now four wins in their last six. They do concede a canny few though - 15 in 14, so it's probably prudent to back Yes in Both Teams to Score at about [1.8].
The Toon are pumping under Rafa Benitez and are currently the best team in the Championship by a mile. They've won five in a row now, and should have just about too much for visitors Preston who are, to be fair, in good nick themselves. These two haven't played each other in the league yet, but they do so at the weekend straight after this one, albeit at Deepdale rather than St James's Park.
You'd probably want a bit more juice in the price to back the home side here (they're currently [1.58]), so I think I'll take Dwight Gayle to open the scoring on the Sportsbook, at 23/10. That boy is way too good for the second tier and relishes a night under the floodlights.
You'd imagine both these sides will give some peripheral players some game time here, for different reasons. David Moyes is scrabbling around for anything that's going to give his side a boost, and Southampton are on a good run in the league and have Europe to worry about, also.
Regardless of the personnel, Sunderland are currently in a terrible state. That said though, four of their last five games have been pretty low-scoring and as I expect this to be a boring affair I wouldn't put you off backing Under 2.5 Goals at a generous-looking [2.0]. I can see this being a terrible advert for this competition. Don't expect any drama.
Last but no means least, this one looks like it may well have a bit going for it. Antonio Conte will undoubtedly rest players but there is a rivalry here and the London Stadium has already seen its fair share of drama (even if it has mostly been confined to the stands).
I expect this one to be pretty keenly fought, and with Slaven Bilic knowing this is a good opportunity for silverware and being the kind of manager that likes to compete on all fronts, he may well play a strong XI which could mean a competitive game.
(1pt each bet)
Luke Moore 2016/17 P/L