Manchester United kick off their Carabao Cup campaign with a tricky game at Luton on Tuesday, and Alan Dudman is backing the hosts to cause a shock in front of the Sky cameras...
The hosts are dangerous here. Winning almost certainly becomes a habit, and they'll be buoyed by their 3-1 victory against Norwich in the first round.
Luton Town v Manchester United
Tuesday 23rd September, 20:15
Live on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event
Return of Jones has revived Hatters
Luton haven't reached the fourth round of the League Cup since 2008, and drawing Manchester United out of the hat initially would have dampened a few hopes of the Hatters making and breaking that stat. But with Nathan Jones back and Manchester United appearing completely abject against Crystal Palace on Sunday, perhaps they fancy their chances?
The hosts are in great shape too, as their current form in all competitions reads WWWW. Two wins in the Championship, two in the Carabao.
I can't stress enough how that is down to Jones. I tipped Luton for promotion for an ante-post piece in their title-winning League One season in 2018/19 and they absolutely tore up the division with nearly 100 points and 96 goals. Luton had a very specific way of playing, quick and high-pressing, so it was understandable Stoke went in for Jones at a time they needed that sort of manager.
For whatever reason it didn't work out, but since his return to Luton, they have lost only once in 11 matches. They were shipping goals at an alarming rate under previous boss Graeme Jones, but sometimes certain people just fit certain clubs.
At least they've picked the right Jones again.
Too quick to write Ole's team off after Palace debacle
Critics have been rounding on Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer again following their awful performance on Sunday. It was pretty tame stuff, but the lack of preparation clearly was a huge factor. Solksjaer cited "only five days" preparation, and it showed.
Of course we can be fickle in this great game, as after the restart, the Red Devils secured third spot and Champions League football with a run of W6 D3 L0.
Maybe that effort, and some of the players being run into the ground by the end of the season has had an impact. The goal was achieved last term, but that could be a potential excuse for the Palace loss.
The question as always with these games is the team news. Last term in the EFL Cup, the Reds were held 1-1 at home by Rochdale, with Phil Jones, Jesse Lingard and Fred starting. The fact that United won't have a spare midweek before Christmas if they win this could have a major bearing on the approach for Tuesday night.
Or if you fancy them to win the trophy, they are currently fourth favourites at 15/28.6.
With United priced up at initially at 1/51.20, I can't exactly tip them for the Draw No Bet. But Luton at 12/113.0 is a massive price judged on how fast they have started. The visitors had gone out a little to 1/31.32 on Monday evening.
It's a real shame there are no fans, as Kenilworth Road is one of those tight grounds made for a cup night. Although back in the 1980s, the prices would be a lot different on the old plastic pitch. If the ball bounced on that it took about five minutes to come back down. Those surfaces were horrible to play on.
Whilst the Red Devils are unbeaten in their last 10 meetings with Luton (W8 D2), there is the nagging doubt of that ever-increasing fixture list. And Opta stats perhaps reveal how priorities have changed, as United have been eliminated from five of their last 10 League Cup ties against lower league opposition. Which is as many as they had in their previous 27 such ties.
The hosts are dangerous here. Winning almost certainly becomes a habit, and they'll be buoyed by their 3-1 victory against Norwich in the first round. Granted, the Canaries fielded a weakened team, but it highlights the perils of taking the competition seriously and not.
Luton are extremely efficient in their high-press and are superb on the counter-attack. They beat Derby and Cocu's "total football" recently in the Championship with just 35% possession stats - something we are seeing more of lately.
United are a laying price of course, and at 1/51.20, it's the equivalent of backing a 5/1 chance with two running for you. But I like the Draw No Bet here at 9/110.0, as Jones gets the very best out of his players and the system they work in so we could have a chance. Of course with that we have the push included, so if you want the two results running for you, the Double Chance bet at 3/14.0 on Luton is just as appealing and just about sways it as the selection.
Can Collins continue his Carabao Cup hot steak?
By siding with the hosts, we have to believe they can score. Something they have little problem with so far this season. There's a perfect symmetry in 2020; in two away games (in EFL and Championship), they have kept clean sheets winning 0-1. At home in both competitions they have won 2-1 and 3-1.
Striker James Collins excels in the set-up, and his ruthless finishing was to the fore with a hat-trick against Norwich and a goal at Barnsley. Prior to the Derby win at the weekend, the forward had registered an astonishing 3.39 xG figure individually.
On the Sportsbook he is priced at 10/1 and 12/1 for First and Last Goalscorer - and he does take penalties. I like his price of 4/1 for Anytime Goalscorer. Especially with the speed that Luton can possess when attacking.
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Back Home and Draw Double Chance @ 3/14.0
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