Sheffield Wednesday @1.54 vs Mansfield
The home side had a good start to their season with a 2-0 win on the weekend, with a tricky fixture against the promoted League 1 champions. After a solid mid-table Championship performance last year, Wednesday will be looking for a good start to the cup and another impressive performance in front of the home fans. The last thing they will be expecting is a loss to a Mansfield side who are two divisions below them. The away team struggled with a home draw against Carlisle in their opening league fixture. Wednesday, in good form, in front of their home fans, two divisions above their opposition – would think about -1 handicap @2.30, don’t know how intent on scoring multiple goals the home side will be though (they might take it a bit easy with a game on the weekend etc).
Swindon @1.69 vs Exeter
Swindon’s pre-season form was slightly deceptive as they played 4 Premier League teams at home before their opening game… losing all of them. They are generally pretty impressive at home in the league as a rule and, despite dropping off at the end of last season, go into this campaign as 4th favourites for the title. They beat Bradford 4-1 in their opening game, despite going behind early on, and will look to follow this up with another win in the cup to gain momentum to their season. Exeter, who finished mid-table in League 2 last season, started their campaign well with a 3-2 win over Yeovil, thanks to a late goal. However, they are yet to demonstrate their away form this season, and a trip to the County Ground will be tough for them. Exeter also went out of the League Cup and FA Cup in round one last season. Their form came in patches last season in the league – suggesting they benefit greatly from a run of good results to build up momentum to a big game like this, which might be why they had a poor cup run last season, as they started without a win in their first 7 league games then. Their win against Yeovil on the weekend will come as a positive, but League 1 side Swindon should really be too strong for them.
Nottingham Forest @1.78 vs Walsall
Forest lost their opening Championship game on the weekend to Brighton, but they really weren’t too far off the pace against a relatively tough ground to go to. They will most likely be mid-table possibly challenging for promotion again this season, and have a decent squad to compete in the Championship. They should go into this game looking to kick off a cup run and hopefully get things back on track for their next league game, because they know they have a talented squad and should be desperate to not underperform again. First competitive game at home is like a second start to the season and a chance to get the fans behind them. Walsall, on the other hand, are an average League 1 side at best, and suffered a miserable start to the season last year. They shouldn’t really have the quality to beat Forest away from home here, but it could depend if Dougie Freedman wants to get their season going here or take it easy and potentially give Walsall a chance to frustrate the home side. I still think the gap in quality between the two sides, plus home advantage early in the season, is big enough to make the odds on Forest seem decent. Forest -1 is @2.82 currently, which could be a decent shout if the home side want to prove a point, but in the cup I’d probably leave handicap for this one.