With the World Cup in Qatar ending in the most dramatic of fashions, resulting in Messi and Argentina symbolically lifting the trophy, the attention of English, top flight football fans is drawn back to their clubs.
The first concern for some Premier League clubs will be the League Cup Round of 16 and with that some more knockout football. However, which teams are going to be edging closer to a League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday 26 February. Which sides will be crashing out this week?
Over the last 10 years the League Cup has been dominated by the famous ‘Top 6’ with Swansea City being the only team outside of the established group to win it in 2013. Since then, Manchester City have won it an incredible 6 times while Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United have lifted the trophy once each, with Liverpool being the current holders of the competition.
However, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs all leaving the cup in the Third Round as well as one of either Manchester City or Liverpool due to bow out as a result of their fixture, could there be a new name on the EFL Cup? And if so, who?
It will be interesting to see, following the break, which sides have continued their form from
November or who has declined.
Sunday 26 February
The Seagulls are high flying in the Premier League this season and they have carried this form into the League Cup as well. Currently 7th in the league and above Chelsea, Roberto De Zerbi has so far seemed a fitting replacement for former Brighton manager Graham Potter.
After defeating league leaders Arsenal on their home turf in the last round, De Zerbi’s men must fancy themselves to go all the way especially considering they travel to The Valley to play struggling league one side, Charlton Athletic, in the round of 16. With that said, The Addicks will be up for it and Brighton must not be complacent although they are the better side on paper.
St James’ Park is bouncing again since the takeover of the club and it’s not just the money that has people talking. ‘Eddie Howe’s Black and White Army’ as the natives call it, are playing eye-catching football once again and it’s paying off with their astonishing league form.
The Magpies are sat in 3rd place having only lost one game all season as opposed to last season where they found themselves in the relegation zone at this point. They may have only just scraped past Crystal Palace in the third round on penalties but it is no doubt that the Geordie faithful are believing again and have a keen eye on the League Cup as Eddie Howe’s first piece of domestic silverware.
There always seems to be some sort of controversy clouding over Old Trafford what with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and the possibility of a much awaited takeover. However, as club football returns, the attention of the Red Devils turns to the events on the pitch as they are back in action on Wednesday night.
As one of the biggest clubs in Europe, they will be gunning for yet another League Cup to add to their collection. Currently sat in 5th, the Reds play host to Burnley and will be hoping for another victory against the Championship side. Nevertheless, Burnley should not be underestimated. They
sit 6 points clear at the top of the Championship in very good form and could even be underdog contenders for the cup itself.
After a poor start to the season, and positioned rock bottom for much of it, Leicester seem to have found their form again. An unusually poor season for Leicester still only sees them in 13th, however, 4 wins in the last 6 league games may have saved manager Brendan Rodgers’ job. As Leicester hit form, they have to be considered as challengers for the League Cup. Winners of the FA Cup in 2021 and famously winning the Premier League in the 2015/16 season, they know how to cause an upset and will be looking to make another addition to the trophy cabinet. Similarly to Brighton, they travel to another struggling League
One side in the round of 16, Milton Keynes Dons. The Foxes will be looking for a comfortable win in order to advance to the quarter finals. Now for the big one, the game that stands out in this round of fixtures.
So will Liverpool defend their crown? Defending the League Cup is always a tough ask and it’s not going to be made any easier for Jurgen Klopp’s men when they travel to Premier League Champions, Manchester City, on Thursday evening.
Liverpool’s league form this season has been uncharacteristic to say the least, compared to what we’re used to seeing from the Reds. After 14 games they find themselves in 6th place, 10 points behind opponents Manchester City.
With that said, the two sides have met once already this season at Anfield with Liverpool coming out on top. Unfortunately for Liverpool, the Citizens will be out for revenge and hoping to prove themselves after defeat against Brentford in the last league fixture before the break.
It is anyone’s guess how Thursday’s fixture will end; it won’t be easy for either side, however, Pep Guardiola’s team may just have the edge. There is little doubt that the winner of this game will be tipped as one of the favourites to win the competition, especially with the Blues’ incredible success in recent years.
So there you have it. An exciting round of fixtures beginning on Tuesday evening to get you in the ‘Festive Spirit’. All in all, it is anyone’s trophy for the taking this season and it is looking increasingly likely, as more teams are knocked out, that we could see a new name engraved on the cup.
We’re edging closer to the end of the year and as 2023 draws to its conclusion, it brings a close to another phenomenal 12 months for British women’s sport.Following World Cup campaigns in football, cricket and netball, as well as the Six...