Hull City v Manchester United
Thursday January 26, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports 1
The hosts have it all to do to reach next month's final at Wembley after losing the first leg 2-0 at Old Trafford. Hull are [26.0] to qualify which tells you everything you need to know about their chances of progress. But new boss Marco Silva has given his team belief and they acquitted themselves well defensively in the first leg.
Hull are in a huge battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League and this will be their main priority. Silva has guided them to home wins in both of his matches at the KCOM Stadium so they are not without hope. But his squad has been stretched to the limit with the probable exit of Robert Snodgrass and Ryan Mason's fractured skull, suffered in Sunday's defeat at Chelsea, the latest setbacks to hit the team.
Jose Mourinho's side have one foot in the final after second-half goals from Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini fired them to victory in the opening match. This has given Manchester United a healthy cushion and it is difficult to make a convincing case for Hull overturning the deficit. United come into the match on a 17-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
United have drawn their last two matches but prior to this won nine games on the bounce. The Red Devils are closing in on a top-four finish but Mourinho will have his eye on landing his first major trophy at the club in this final next month. United are expected to shuffle their team around and there could be a start for Wayne Rooney after he became the club's record scorer following his 250th goal with Saturday's late equaliser at Stoke.
The hosts are big outsiders at [7.4] to win on the night which at first glance looks slightly overpriced. Hull have won their last two home games but their record against United offers no encouragement. City have failed to beat them in their last 13 meetings and their current side has been weakened by injuries leaving too many doubts surrounding them.
United are understandable favourites but there are several reasons to be wary about lumping on them at [1.55]. This does not look a very generous price considering Mourinho's side do not need to win. A draw or even one-goal defeat will send them through and with some of the first-team players likely to sit it out there is no temptation to back them.
The draw is around the [4.5] mark and is certainly worth consideration. United have been held in their last two games and have made a habit of drawing this season with eight in the league. But only one of Hull's last nine games have finished level and the home side have to push for a win. This means they could get picked off on the break so this market is probably worth swerving.
Over/Under 2.5 goals
Four of Man United's last five matches have seen under three goals including their home win in the first leg. Hull have found scoring difficult this season and three of their last four games have also seen less than three goals. The last three meetings between the teams have seen no more than two goals scored each time.
Mourinho's side are unlikely to be cavalier with a two-goal lead established and there may be a reluctance to push too much with containing the hosts enough to progress to Wembley. Some of their star attackers may also be left out so a high scoring game does not necessarily look on the cards. Backing under 2.5 goals appears generously priced at [2.26].
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Simon Mail's 2016/17 Season P/L
Staked: 31 pts
Returned: 31.71 pts
P/L: +0.71 pts