Tom Hill's best bets for the midweek EFL Cup first-leg ties include routine wins for two of England's biggest clubs.
Middlesbrough v Chelsea (Tuesday 20:00)
Championship side Middlesbrough will try to bounce back from their defeat to Aston Villa in the third round of the FA Cup when they play host to Chelsea in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup.
Boro fell to a 1-0 defeat to Unai Emery’s side, but they may feel that Tuesday’s meeting at the Riverside Stadium is an easier challenge.
While Villa are competing for a top-four spot, Chelsea are 10th and struggling for consistency under Mauricio Pochettino.
Michael Carrick’s side have dropped away from the Championship playoff spots of late, and three defeats in five have unsettled the Teesider’s.
Boro have also lost four of their previous five at home, so Chelsea should have enough quality in their squad to cause them problems.
Carrick’s men conceded 12 corners against Villa, and Chelsea have a wealth of options out wide who should be able to win more set-pieces against this fragile Boro backline.
Liverpool v Fulham (Wednesday 20:00)
Liverpool were second best for large parts of their FA Cup tie against Arsenal, yet they ran out 2-0 winners at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Jurgen Klopp’s troops have won four of their previous five in all competitions, and they have only lost one of their last 10.
Klopp’s team have been in fine fettle in front of goal as of late, scoring at least two goals in seven of their last 10 in all competitions.
That bodes well as they prepare to host a Fulham side that has tasted defeat in six of their recent 10 away matches under Marco Silva.
Fulham have failed to score in two of their last three on the road, but Liverpool’s defence is lacking some of their usual first-team names, so there’s every chance they are put under pressure at Anfield.
Reds forward Mohamed Salah is away with Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations, so the responsibility will need to be shared amongst the other forwards as they try to fill the void up front.
Uruguay international Darwin Nunez has not yet delivered on a consistent basis, but he continues to find space in and around the penalty area of opposition defences.
Nunez should lead the line, and he will be given plenty of chances to find the back of the net, especially against Silva’s men.
While he may not take all of those opportunities, Nunez should be able to test Bernd Leno in the Fulham goal on a number of occasions.
Liverpool to win and both teams to score @ 17/10
Darwin Nunez 2+ shots on target @