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Wolves v Gillingham
Premier League sides are making their first competitive appearance for over a month owing to the World Cup, and players will be slowly but surely returning to the fold for Wolves, but it remains unclear what kind of side they’ll field with a flurry of league fixtures on the horizon.
Wolves don’t have a great recent record in this competition, not managing to get past this stage since they reached the quarters in 1995/96, though it would be a serious upset to see them falter here against a side currently fighting to stay in the football league altogether.
Gillingham currently sit bottom of League Two having won just twice in 20 league outings this season. They’ve been more impressive in cup competitions though, as they are here courtesy of a 2-0 win over AFC Wimbledon and penalty victories over Exeter City and Premier League Brentford, so they shouldn’t be taken lightly by an relatively out of sorts Wolves side.
Julen Lopetegui’s men are bottom of the league, with output a real concern having netted just eight times in 15 matches, the lowest in the league. In fairness, that was primarily under former manager Bruno Lage, though the personnel remain the same and there value would be to back a low scorer here.
These are the two lowest scoring sides in their respective leagues, with just 14 goals in 35 combined matches to their name as Gillingham have failed to find the net more than once in a match all season, while they’ve drawn a blank in six successive league outings now.
UNDER 2.5 GOALS
Southampton v Lincoln
New manager Nathan Jones will be thankful for a lengthy period of being able to work with his Southampton squad during the World Cup, and he’ll be hoping that five-week period will have been sufficient to get some of his ideas across.
Lincoln have a good recent away record in this competition, not losing any of their last seven such matches within 90 minutes. With that said, they haven’t faced a Premier League side in that run and since returning to the Football League in 2017, though two Premier League sides they’ve faced in this cup have been Liverpool and Everton, losing both outings 7-2 and 4-2, respectively.
The League One side come into this in decent form though having lost just one of their last seven games, which included victory over Bristol City in this competition.
The Saints are likely going to have too much for them though, as Jones will probably want to start as close to his first choice 11 as possible. Kyle Walker-Peters could return to the frame, while Mohammed Salisu may start having exited the World Cup early, and while we’d expect the hosts to claim victory, the value looks, again, to be on the unders market.
Lincoln tend to keep games tight, with 13 of their last 16 outings seeing under 2.5 goals land, while Saints haven’t netted more than once in a game since beating Chelsea 2-1 back in August.
UNDER 2.5 GOALS
Newcastle v Bournemouth
The first of just two all Premier League clashes in the last-16 sees a high-flying Newcastle side hoping to pick up where they left off against Bournemouth. They were on a five-match winning streak in the league, and also managed to overcome Crystal Palace on penalties in the previous round here. They carried that winning momentum into their friendlies, with 5-0 and 2-1 wins over Al Hilal and Rayo Vallecano.
Eddie Howe does have some absences to contend with though. Alexander Isak remains out having failed to fully overcome his calf injury, while Callum Wilson and Bruno Guimaraes will also likely not feature having only just returned from Qatar. Fabien Schar is a doubt at the back, and Joelinton is another big loss in the middle of the park, so that may be an area that Bournemouth look to dominate.
The Cherries had recorded back-to-back three goal victories over Everton before the break, though may struggle to carry that momentum over here to St James’ Park. Both those results came at the Vitality, while they lost their last two away games at the London Stadium and Elland Road.
There’s every chance we see goals here, with Bournemouth seeing 20 fly in across their last four matches alone, while only Arsenal, Man City and Tottenham have netted more than the Magpies this season, who have netted nine times across their last three games in the league.
NEWCASTLE TO WIN AND BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE
MK Dons v Leicester
Leicester were picking up some momentum before the break as having propped up the table for the majority of the season, the Foxes have won five of their last six matches in all competitions, losing only narrowly to Man City, while all five victories came to nil, including their 3-0 victory over Newport in the last round.
MK Dons have had an equally disappointing start to their campaign, though unlike their Premier League counterparts they haven’t showed any signs of a bounce back. Liam Manning has been replaced as manager, and it’s unclear whether that decision will bring with it any sense of success in the weeks to come. A 2-0 victory over Portsmouth at the weekend will have fans in a good mood, though progress to the quarters here would really set pulses racing.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see both sets of managers rest players for this one considering the congested period ahead. MK Dons have a big clash with Forest Green at the weekend, while Leicester will have one eye on Newcastle on Boxing Day.
That said, Brenden Rogers knows a thing or two about domestic cups, and Leicester have now lost just two of their last 24 matches in this competition within 90 minutes. Those defeats came to Aston Villa and Arsenal, while eight of their nine matches with lower league opponents in that time saw them cover the -1 handicap.
LEICESTER –1 HANDICAP
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