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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Manchester United look best placed for strong tilt at EFL Cup

Lively Wolves stand out as each-way alternative to big guns

Paul Pogba passes the 2017 EFL Cup trophy to Jose Mourinho
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The EFL Cup remains the lowest priority on the domestic calendar for Premier League bosses but that has not stopped the elite clubs from taking a stranglehold on the competition.

Chelsea, Manchester United, LiverpoolTottenham and holders Manchester City have won 12 of the last 14 between them - Swansea and Birmingham are the only sides from outside the big six to have their moment of glory.

It makes sense to stick to one of the top dogs for the main bet and United, who start against Frank Lampard's Derby, look best placed for a strong tilt at the trophy as boss Jose Mourinho aims for his fifth League Cup triumph.

Mourinho is a serial winner, who even takes Community Shield matches seriously, so after a campaign in which the Portuguese has been heavily criticised don't expect him to easily give up on the opportunity of landing the first available piece of silverware.

Mourinho has a massive squad to juggle with.

Argentinian goalkeeper Sergio Romero is a decent understudy for David de Gea and the potential replacement full-backs are Diogo Dalot, impressive in the Champions League win over Young Boys, and Ashley Young.

United's centre-backs are all roughly of the same level - a problem in terms of trying to win the Premier League as they lack a genuine world-class option - but perfect for having a bet in this competition.

Fred, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata are arguably not part of United's best 11 and the same could also be said of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.

Mourinho did not mess around against Derby in last season's FA Cup third round either. Even though the fixture came just after a heavy Christmas workload he started Paul Pogba and brought on Romelu Lukaku at half-time.

United's start against Sky Bet Championship opposition is easier than that of Liverpool and Chelsea, who meet at Anfield.

Chelsea have a huge squad but are also in the draining Europa League and Jurgen Klopp may decide this could be the competition to give way if Liverpool are to be genuine title challengers.

City will expect to overcome Oxford but Pep Guardiola was able to give the League Cup more focus last season as the league was wrapped up a long way from home.

That may not be the case this term and after defeat to Lyon they are under a bit more pressure in the Champions League too.

Arsenal's approach under Unai Emery is unknown and north London neighbours Tottenham are sacrificing home advantage by playing Watford at MK Dons. Progress definitely can't be taken for granted.

There is some mileage in an each-way punt on a less obvious candidate given Southampton, Sunderland, Bradford and Cardiff have reached the final in the last seven years, and Wolves stand out as possibly the best of those.

Wanderers have a difficult start at home to Leicester but have already graced the Premier League and are surely in no danger of having to worry about a possible relegation dogfight.

Nuno's men went to the Etihad and took the EFL Cup winners all the way to penalties in last season's competition so they are capable if rotation is the name of the game again.

However, Nuno must also realise this represents an opportunity for the current squad to go down in Wanderers' folklore as the grand old club aim to lift their first major trophy since the 1980 League Cup.

Wolves have drawn with both Manchester clubs this season and may yet be best of the rest outside the Premier League's big six.

Man Utd
2pts 7-1 Betfred, Betway, Paddy Power
0.5pt each-way 33-1 bet365

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Mourinho is a serial winner, who even takes Community Shield matches seriously
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