Elina Svitolina is from the Ukraine, aged 23 and ranked 4th in the world. She is making her debut in this event and thoroughly deserves to be there, having had a remarkable year. She has won 52 matches for the loss of only 12 and has been victorious in 5 tournaments. She has a relentless game from the baseline which normally wears down her opponents with it's consistency. The first tournament she won this year was in Taipei on indoor hard. She then won Dubai later that month in February, followed by Istanbul and Rome in April and May on clay. In August she won Toronto beating 5 good players. The only downside on the year is that she hasn't performed that well in the Grand Slams.
Caroline Wozniacki is a Danish player, aged 27 and ranked 6th in the world. She is a former number 1 player and has played in this event on 4 occasions, reaching the final in 2010. Interestingly she had appeared in 6 finals this year and had lost everyone until Tokyo where she was in 7th heaven after finally winning her first title of the year. She is the consummate percentage player who never gives up and with her amazing fitness, will often outlast her opponents .
Info: The tournament starts on Sunday, with the world's top 8 players divided into 2 groups (White and Red). It is then an all play all in each group with the top 2 players progressing to the semi-final which is then a knock-out. It is possible to lose your first 2 matches but win the tournament which happened last year with Cibulkova and the year before Radwanska.
White Group: Pliskova, Venus Williams, Muguruza, Ostapenk. Red Group: Halep, Garcia, Svitolina, Wozniacki.
Head to Head: Svitolina leads 3-0 having won twice in their meetings this year in Toronto and Dubai.
Summary: Value for Svitolina at 1.68.
1.68 Svitolina v Wozniacki 2.41
The home win will be my choice. Deportivo have won their last two home games and here comes their third home win on the bounce, if I can have it my way.
Girona once won a league game, but it was early season and for this game they have to manage without their superior goal scorer C Stuani, who will sit out a suspension. They improved when Kayode and D Luiz entered their game against Villarreal (1-2 loss) and it is quite possible that these two will play from the start in this game.
La Coruna will be able to call on Schär again and there is also a chance that P Mosquera and A Lopez will be back in contention for this Monday game.
E Colak, who was replaced by the former Arsenal player Lucas Perez in their last game, is considered a doubtful starter.
Backing La Coruna.
"Ruthless Muguruza to prevail"
Garbine Muguruza is Spanish although born in Venezuela, she is aged 24 and ranked 2nd in the world. She was ranked number 1 for 4 weeks in September until Halep took her place. She has played in the World finals the last 2 years. In 2016 she was eliminated at the group stage but in 2015 she reached the semi, losing to Radwanska in 3 close sets. She has the ability to raise her game on big occasions as she has shown when winning Wimbledon this year and the French the year before. Against Venus Williams in her first match she looked very clinical, winning 6-2 6-2.
Karolina Pliskova is a Czech player, aged 25 and ranked 3rd in the world. She too was number 1 in July of this year and held that position for 7 weeks. She played in the Tour Finals last year for the first time but was knocked-out at the group stage, only winning 1 of her 3 matches. Her best surface is grass, closely followed by hard courts especially indoor hard, which is better for her powerful serve. Unlike Muguruza she has not won a Grand Slam although she was a finalist in the US Open last year. In her first match her experience was too much for Ostapenko who made too many unforced errors.
Info: Singapore Indoor hard courts.
Head to Head: Pliskova leads 6-2 but crucially Muguruza won their last match.
Summary: Value for Muguruza at 2.04.
2.04 Muguruza v Pliskova 2.00
It was a big point for Inter away to Napoli at the weekend (0-0). They suffered, but their keeper Handanovic and their new defender Skriniar stopped everything that Napoli were able to throw at them. Also Candreva and Vecino made huge efforts against Napoli.
Inter remain unbeaten (7-2-0) and they only have Brozovic on their injury list. Icardi will be supported by Perisic and Candreva again. J Mario could earn a starting role.
Sampdoria have won all their four home games after their impressive 5-0 win against Crotone. The fact is, they have only lost once this season and in that game (away to Udinese 0-4) they were down to ten men for some considerable time. This is the best Sampdoria team for ages, at least at this point of the season.
Zapata and Quagliarella are cemented upfront, but other changes will be made, as Berezynski, Regini, Barreto and Ramirez are likely starting players this time.
Home win by the odd goal, say 2-1.
About Eddie Howe, his Bournemouth side and their participation in cup fixtures I have learnt one thing. Howe has the habit of playing with much changed sides, including tops two or three regulars. Howe has confirmed, he will use a different personnel in this cup game. You may argue and say that this goes for most of the coaches and teams, but it is not necessarily true, as there are teams out there who will fancy some success in the cup.
What about Middlesbrough? Coach Monk needs a big game from his players, he needs a win, any kind of win after a very disappointing first third of the season. They have only won four of their league games and it is desperately poor for a team who have bought players for millions this season. Monk is starting to talk about “bad luck and nothing is going our way” after their 0-1 loss against Cardiff at the weekend.
I will make an attempt with the outsider.
Last season Man United won the League Cup final, 3-2 against Southampton.
I cannot see their coach Mourinho giving priority to the cup this season. Why? They played twice last week and his players looked tired, surprisingly disinterested against Huddersfield at the weekend (1-2 loss) In a couple of days Man United will play a massive game at home to Tottenham and surely Mourinho will rest his leading players for this cup game. Their injury situation is not ideal either with seven players on their injury list.
Clement, the Swansea coach, is talking about making changes, but not because he wants to rest players, but because his team underperformed at home to Leicester in their last league game. He is looking for an immediate positive response in this cup game.
The outsider for this writer.