EFL Cup 3rd Round: Big Teams Looking For Midweek Boost10 min read
The EFL Cup has reached the 3rd round and all the Premier League big guns have now joined the competition.
Arsenal v Nottingham Forest
Nottingham Forest travel to Stoke on Friday in the Championship, so this tie is being played on Tuesday just over 48 hours after Arsenal came back to beat Villa 3-2 in the Premier League despite playing the whole of the second half with 10-men.
There will be over 8,000 Forest fans at the Emirates, but promotion is the primary objective this season for the east midlands club and they are likely to rest several of their regular starting XI. We know Unai Emery will also rotate his squad, but such is the strength in depth of the Gunners that I expect to see a comfortable home win.
Tip: Arsenal to win to nil
Colchester United v Tottenham Hotspur
Back-to-back wins for Colchester United in League Two, but it is hard to make a case for the U’s despite the fact that Spurs lost the lead and all three points at the King Power Stadium at the weekend.
Mauricio Pochettino has a deep and talented squad at his disposal and will have several players desperate for the opportunity to show the manager that they are ready to step up to the plate if, and when, required.
Tip: Tottenham -2 on the handicap
Luton Town v Leicester City
Brendan Rodgers played a powerful side at St James’ Park in the last round. I expect him to play an equally strong side at Kenilworth Road against a Luton side who have lost their last couple of Championship games including a 3-0 home loss to Hull at the weekend.
It wasn’t long ago that the Hatters were playing in the Conference/National League and they have done tremendously well to make it back to the second tier of English football. This is a very impressive Foxes’ side, however, and one who I believe can go a long way in the competition.
Tip: Leicester to win
Portsmouth v Southampton
The TV cameras are at Fratton Park for the first derby between these two bitter rivals since 2012 and I can’t split the sides.
I was disappointed with Southampton against Bournemouth on Friday evening, but Portsmouth are pulling up few trees in League One and some of the traveling Pompey supporters vented their frustration during their loss to Wycombe at the weekend. A win would certainly relieve the pressure on under-fire manager Kenny Jackett.
Saints’ boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has indicated he will play his “best possible side” against his south coast rivals. It promises to be explosive and could easily be decided from the penalty spot.
Tip: Game to finish in a draw
Preston North End v Manchester City
Preston sit third in the Championship after their first away win of the season at Birmingham City at the weekend, but I expect Manchester City to have too much quality at Deepdale.
Pep Guardiola’s side have reacted to their shock loss at Norwich by scoring 11 goals without reply in their last couple of games. The Lilywhites may score against City, but I expect to see the holders make serene progress into the last 16.
Tip: City to win and both teams to score
Sheffield Wednesday v Everton
Having lost to the Blades at Goodison on Saturday Everton will not want to lose at Hillsborough as they look to avoid an embarrassing double at the hands of the Sheffield clubs.
The Owls grabbed a late equaliser at home to Fulham on Saturday, but I expect to see the Blues bounce back after their home loss. Marco Silva played a strong team at Lincoln in the last round and he looks sure to play a similar side against the Owls. Defeat in south Yorkshire and the pressure will mount on the Portuguese boss. Next up for Everton? The small matter of Manchester City!
Tip: Everton to win and both teams to score
Brighton v Aston Villa
The only all-Premier League tie of the round and both clubs will feel they could have got more from their weekend fixtures.
Brighton have drawn a blank in nine of their last 15 PL games but had the better of the goalless draw at St James’ Park on Saturday while Villa led twice at the Emirates before losing a five-goal thriller to 10-man Arsenal.
This is another game which is likely to be very tight and may have to be decided on penalties.
Tip: Game to finish 1-1
Chelsea v Grimsby Town
Chelsea played their part in a cracking game with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and I expect Frank Lampard’s side to return to winning ways against League 2 Grimsby who are reported to be bringing 5,000 away supporters to the capital.
The Blues have injury problems, but there is every chance that England international Callum Hudson-Odoi and promising young defender Reece James will play their first games of the season and give Lampard more options for the weeks and months ahead.
Tip: Chelsea -2 on the handicap
Milton Keynes Dons v Liverpool
Liverpool passed their first major examination of their title credentials at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and Jurgen Klopp looks sure to shuffle his talented pack at Stadium MK.
Rhian Brewster is likely to make his debut for Liverpool against the Dons and I am looking forward to seeing the striker’s first appearance in a red shirt. It won’t be his last.
Tip: Brewster to score at anytime
Oxford United v West Ham United
West Ham were too good for a disappointing Manchester United side at the London Stadium on Sunday and I expect Manuel Pellegrini’s side to follow up at the Kassam Stadium even though Oxford hit Lincoln for six at the weekend.
Tip: West Ham to win and both teams to score
Sheffield United v Sunderland
Sheffield United recorded their first away win of the season at Everton on Saturday and I think Chris Wilder’s side will build on that success back at Bramall Lane against a Sunderland side who were thankful for an injury time penalty from Aiden McGeady to rescue a point at lowly Bolton at the weekend.
Tip: Sheffield United to win
Wolves v Reading
Wolves snatched a point at Selhurst Park on Sunday, but they will be keen to gain a first win of the season in domestic competition when Reading visit Molineux midweek.
The Royals have lost their last three Championship games and Nuno Espirito Santo will want a confidence-building home victory ahead of the visit of Watford at the weekend.
Tip: Wolves to win to nil
Manchester United v Rochdale
United are short of striking options with Marcus Rashford hobbling off with what looked like a groin injury against West Ham on Sunday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is optimistic, however, that Mason Greenwood, who scored the winner against Astana on Thursday in the Europa League, will be over the illness that prevented him travelling to London at the weekend.
Rochdale have lost three of their last four games in all competitions and I expect to see United return to winning ways back on home soil.
Tip: United halftime/fulltime
Michael’s League Cup treble: Sheffield United, Chelsea and Wolves