Manchester United v Hull
Tuesday January 10, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports
After a few early season hiccups United are beginning to look a bit scary under Jose Mourinho. The four-time League Cup champions come into this fixture on an eight-game winning streak, and haven't suffered a defeat in any competition since November. Their latest victory came on Saturday when Reading were knocked out of the FA Cup, beaten 4-0 at Old Trafford thanks to goals from Wayne Rooney - his opener equalling Sir Bobby Charlton's club goalscoring record - Anthony Martial and a Marcus Rashford double. Importantly, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were rested for that game and are very likely to feature in the lineup on Tuesday night.
Mourinho has a near fully fit squad to choose from with Marcos Rojo the only doubt. Eric Bailly is away on African Cup of Nations duty.
The Tigers enjoyed a winning start to new manager Marco Silva's reign, when despatching Swansea from the FA Cup courtesy of a pair of late goals at the KCOM. Match reports do not suggest it was a particularly impressive display which is probably to be expected given the club's poor season so far and presence of a new leader in the dugout. Still any win has to be seen as a positive - their last victory under Mike Phelan came in November.
Silva goes to Old Trafford with concerns over a few players. Most of the club's defenders are carrying knocks including the central defensive pair of Michael Dawson and Curtis Davies, although both should feature. Ahmed Elmohamady and Dieumerci Mbokani are both at the African Cup of Nations.
It's a surprise to see Hull in the semi-final but they have earned their place in the final four, having won three on the road (two against lower league opposition admittedly) and then ousting Newcastle on penalties in the quarter-final when they finally landed a home fixture. They have clearly not faced a test as large as this one, however, and Hull are a massive [18.0] to pull off a shock win at Old Trafford. The home side are [1.21] to gain a first leg advantage and the draw is [7.8].
Clearly, most punters will be looking to back the home side but those odds are prohibitively short. If convinced of United's superiority - and it's very tricky not to be - then you may look at the Half-Time/Full-Time market where United to hold the lead at the break and final whistle is a [1.66] shot.
And you won't get huge prices on United winning the match, even when giving Hull a two goal start - the home win -2 goals is just [2.37]!
Under/Over 2.5 Goals
Under Phelan, Hull have been pretty poor at the back and not particularly prolific in attack - they are the lowest scorers in the Premier League and own the joint second-worst defence. Not a good combination!
Accordingly, overs is strongly fancied in the market, even though United do not rate among the most prolific teams in the top-flight. Their 31 goals is 17 fewer than top-scorers Liverpool, and 10 behind Manchester City.
Hull's gameplan must be to keep it tight to give them a chance in the second leg, and that might make a low-scoring match a bit of value. The visitors were able to shut out Swansea in their last match - not much of a marker it must be said - and maybe that parsimony can be carried over to Old Trafford?
You can get [3.55] on United winning 1-0 or 2-0, and in a one-sided betting heat where everything is skewed towards a comprehensive home win that might prove to be a decent value wager. That price could get bigger, too, as the market is still developing.