Yano who it’s going to be a bad week for? Stoke. It’s a funny time of year. The last thing anyone wants when everyone’s up-and-running is more games when players are getting back to full fitness – particularly if you’re a Premier League club struggling in the early stages.
But yet here we are. Crystal Palace, fresh from seeing off Manchester United, have to host Colchester United, play their kids, in front of about 4,500 people. The only people who genuinely benefit from these nights are the likes of you and I who’d otherwise have to watch something less entertaining – and the footballers who are barely better than us at a midweek five-a-side.
Oh what a life.
Graham Potter is only in the door at Brighton following a stint with Ostersund, and he’s already revitalised the club. Not only are the first team playing a brand of football foreign to the modest tastes of those on the south coast, the underage academy systems are aligning, and this is already producing a more widely-equipped squad – one that’s more than capable of competing on all fronts.
This is why Brighton are the bet of the round. Nobody is worried about them in the Premier League, so a couple of squad players will get minutes, but don’t be surprised for the unheralded youngsters to shine against humble opposition.
Selection: Brighton to win in 90 mins @ 4/7
Farke-ball! You’ve heard it, folks. That steely German mentality where priorities don’t exist, only opportunities to win it, all do. It’s quite a simple formula that Norwich have – play attacking football, regardless of what happens. They might be the shortest price on the list – but they’re also the biggest certainty.
Pukki and Cantwell may be resting up to get onside with your local fantasy football freak, but there’s enough depth in behind those two to get the Canaries over the line in some style.
Nobody needs to see Farke cry, either. Not sure my heart could tale it.
Selection: Norwich to win in 90 mins @ 1/3
Just when you thought I’d be tipping four shorties. You had your hotkeys ready to assault my conservative nature, and maybe even the shape of my head. Well, now you can’t. Well, you could still theoretically do the latter, but that’s rude and your mother raised you better than that. I think.
Fulham got tanked the weekend which is exactly the kind of result we’re looking for here. Southampton won 2-0 at the weekend, despite being second-best for a lot of it – which is exactly the kind of result we’re looking for here.
The hosts will need to revert to conservative, possession-based football, meaning they’ll have to be exceptionally sharp and will probably include starters. Southampton will be the polar opposite and will expect to win this comfortably. Not for me, Bill.
Selection: Fulham to win in 90 mins @ 17/10
I got my entitlement from the last selection, don’t @ me. Coventry don’t play home games anymore due to their Ricoh predicament. So, being on the road has kind of galvanised them.
But to the point where they’ve now gone unbeaten in five games in League One and have absolutely no intention of bringing a big-name side to St. Andrew’s, only to give half the gate away to a side above them in football’s league ladder, where memories can never be looked more fondly upon.
All this club are focused on is a return to the second tier so they can escape Birmingham and get back home. To be honest, Peaky Blinders aside, it’s hard to blame them.
Selection: Watford to win in 90 mins at 1/4
*Prices correct at time of publishing