Favouritism doesn’t come heavier than Liverpool’s 9/25 to beat Middlesbrough in the first batch of the week’s Capital One Cup clashes.
Inferior quality and an away draw is expected to be the death of Aitor Karanka’s men at Anfield, with the odds gurus at bwin.com being so bold as to afford the Championship club a colossal 13/2 for third-round success.
Inconceivable it may seem, but blend the fine fettle of the Teessiders with the Reds’ stinking form over the following ice-cold cubes of betting intelligence and discerning punters will be slurping classic cup upset cocktails all the way to the bank.
Juggling Premier League and continental commitments is proving tough enough, so expect Liverpool to field a much-changed line-up.
Given their hosts’ losses to Aston Villa and West Ham, not forgetting their humdrum showing against Ludogorets sandwiched in between, it may be Boro who elect to field a few fringe players here.
Whatever strength side the 2004 competition winners send into battle, their prospects of a fourth successive victory will be augmented by the team of youngsters, reserves and Kolo Toure the Merseysiders are likely to call upon.
Travelling is fast proving to be the north-easterners forte.
Only Sheffield Wednesday boast a better road record than Middlesbrough in the second tier.
They’ve snapped a 20-year winless run at Bolton this term, as well as besting a Cardiff side stocked with several Premier League-proven players in the Welsh capital.
Top-flight side Sunderland were slain on their own turf in the 2012/13 instalment of the competition, meaning the underdogs also have previous when it comes to usurping the odds too.
Liverpool tossed the Capital One Cup towel in at this stage twice in the past four years.
Sides all the way up and down the mighty-to-minnow spectrum have written the Reds out of the League Cup plot in recent campaigns.
Manchester United and Northampton have donned the executioners’ hood in post 2010 third rounds, with the latter doing the honours in front of the Anfield faithful, where Swansea have also swung the axe in post-2010 editions.