Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers are odds-on for a successful EFL Cup trip to West London, but our tipster reckons Neal Ardley’s Wombles can cause a shock
League One outfit AFC Wimbledon welcome West Ham United of the Premier League to Kingsmeadow for Tuesday night’s EFL Cup clash.
The home side are underdogs but they are used to battling against the odds, even in the third-tier, where they are as big as 25/1 (26.0) with William Hill for promotion this season – the capacity to fight in adversity is simply drilled into the club’s DNA.
Their visitors from across the capital, meanwhile, are 9/2 (5.5) for relegation after a bad start to their league campaign.
Due to the gap of two divisions between these sides, West Ham are understandably 4/6 (1.67) favourites to record their first competitive victory under Manuel Pellegrini without needing a penalty-shootout.
AFC Wimbledon, meanwhile, can be found at 15/4 (4.75) to win in 90 minutes; the biggest price of any home team in the Second Round.
A draw, which due to recent rule changes would see the game go to spot-kicks straightaway without extra-time, is 3/1 (4.0).
Wombles boss Neal Ardley will pick the strongest possible side for this match and is helped by not having any injury problems to contend with. Key centre-back Deji Oshilaja will hope to continue his run of impressive performances.
West Ham will be without Marko Arnautovic due to a muscle problem, Mark Noble is unlikely to be risked after sustaining a back injury while Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll are long-term absentees. Manuel Pellegrini might rest many key players with a crucial home game against Wolves to come on Saturday.
Upset on the cards?
The ingredients for a cup upset are in place. Wimbledon will move to Plough Lane in 2019; the club will therefore be keen to make some memories from their final full season at a packed Kingsmeadow.
West Ham have conceded nine in three matches in the Premier League, albeit against much stronger opposition and have looked questionable out of possession; it remains to be seen how a likely youthful line up will adapt to a unique atmosphere.
Three of Wimbledon’s last six victories in all competitions have come by the 1-0 scoreline and, if they bag the opener here, their focus will be on protecting the lead rather than adding more goals. James Hanson, a key part of Bradford’s run to the final of this competition in 2013, typically fares well against Premier League defences not used to facing old-school target men; Hanson to score in a 1-0 home win at 45/1 (46.0) might therefore appeal to the more audacious punter.
Preview and predictions
The best bet though is in the Match Handicap market with Wimbledon getting a one goal start at 21/20 (2.05), which will land should the hosts avoid defeat in 90 minutes.
If West Ham don’t match the League One side’s endeavour and industry, they could potentially be in for a disappointing evening.
Wimbledon +1 goal handicap at 21/20 (2.05) for a 1pt stake with William Hill