Soccer Picks Manchester United vs. Sunderland

Nila Amerova

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 4:14 PM GMT

Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 4:14 PM GMT

Manchester United must reverse the tie against Sunderland in order to advance into the Capital One League Cup final. Find out what the odds makers have released and where the value soccer picks are to be had.

Manchester United behind

The soccer-betting highlight on the midweek menu across sportsbooks is the tilt between Manchester United and Sunderland at the Old Trafford. Sunderland descend on the Trafford’s hallowed grounds with a 2-1 edge, largely down to an own goal in the first half by veteran Man U defender Ryan Giggs. A fortuitous turn of events that gave Sunderland the lead going into the break but that also left Man U with plenty opportunity and time for a comeback, which alas they let slip through their fingers on a careless penalty after Nemanja Vidic brought them level in the 52nd minute.

The Red Devils started the second half brightly and drew level quickly but an enthusiastic tackle that brought Adam Johnson down (somewhat theatrically some would say) was rewarded with a penalty to the Black Cats, a gift horse they weren’t about to stare in the mouth. So Fabio Borini, who stepped up to the mark, made sure as he sealed the victory at the Stadium of Light.

The upshot: Man U have all to do in the second leg of this semi-final clash. A 2-1 deficit is not an insurmountable obstacle by any stretch of the imagination. Man U could still reverse their League Cup fortunes. Certainly, odds makers are backing them heavily with -250 soccer odds to win outright at the Old Trafford on Wednesday. Sunderland meanwhile are listed at +900 soccer odds to win outright, emphasizing the fact that their job is not only half-done but also extremely tough to see through to completion.

But is it really as tough as sports betting markets would have you believe? Before you dip into Man U’s soccer odds (to leap to the assumption that all and sundry are backing Man U), consider the current Premier League reality and Man U’s predicament this season.

Man U are enjoying abysmal form of late with four defeats in their last five matches across all competitions on 2014, two of which were at the Old Trafford – a 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Spurs in Premier League action and a 2-1 defeat to Swansea City that forced them out of FA Cup. Their lone victory since the New Year was a 2-0 victory over Swansea City in Premier League.

It’s worth mentioning that both Rooney and Van Persie sat on the injury list had all to do with this poor turn. Yet, at the same time, what does their absence say about Man U as a whole? If the Premier League table were any indication the answer is obvious: they are merely middleweight strugglers.

Clearly, David Moyes’ tenure is off to a hellish start. Old Trafford isn’t an indomitable fortress anymore. And the Red Devils are but a shadow of the nigh invincible team of Sir Alex Fergusson’s era. Sunderland might have been lucky to win the first leg but there is no doubt about just how vulnerable the Red Devils are these days, which means that in spite of the odds being cornered firmly in their camp, it’s not a foregone conclusion they’ll win. By that same token, the probability of an upset is higher than would have been the case otherwise.

Soccer Betting Verdict: Old habits die hard and so it’s understandable that the majority (including sportsbooks) are favouring Man U to win the second leg and, in turn, the tie. What’s more, there is something rather seductive about the prospect of both Manchesters going head-to-head in the League Cup final at Wembley (Man City is all but through to the final).

Still despite Man U’s favourable odds of -250 to win outright at Bet365,, they have all to do. And without their stars, it’s akin to Mission Impossible (both Rooney and Van Persie were absent at the weekend in Man U’s 3-1 defeat to Chelsea and they remain question marks for League Cup action against Sunderland).

The Black Cats on the other hand are enjoying a renaissance with three wins and a draw ahead of this clash across all competitions, which should send them into the Old Trafford with measured confidence. Let’s not forget the lead they also have going into this clash, one that is hard to ignore and lends their +900 soccer odds enough value to tempt a tickle. Odds that will look even more attractive if it is confirmed neither Rooney nor Van Persie will feature on the fateful day. In fact, the more we think on it the steeper Man U at -250 to win outright seems and, thus we will back Sunderlnd with our soccer picks as we fancy the Black Cats to heap more misery on David Moyes and Co.

Soccer Free Picks: Sunderland to advance into the final
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