Liverpool host Chelsea at Anfield in a EFL Carabao Cup tournament which looks to me as surplus to the Jurgen Klopp’s agenda this season. They have the chance to fight and eventually wit=n the Premier League title for the first time in 3 decades. Add to that the Champions League and you would simply don’t see a good reason for the Reds not to play with their reserve team on Wednesday. At the same a lost game is always a setback, so any big team should find a way to give their best in any tournament.
Chelsea’s main goal is to chase for the title. Considering the fact that they play on Thursdays in the UEFA Europa League, like Liverpool they should be excited in competing in another tournament, they simply don’t want to win.
Who are the teams who would benefit a lot of the EFL Carabao Cup?
A team I expect to make this competition a priority is Leicester City. The Foxes aren’t good enough to finish in the top 4 and they will probably not make it in the top 6. So the EFL Cup is an excellent chance to continue growing as club.
Wolverhampton whom they play at Molineux Stadium are another club who need to prove themselves and I think that Carabao Cup is a good opportunity for the Nuno Espirito Santo’s led team to show how good they are. Ironically these teams play against each other and one one of them will go through.
AFC Bournemouth vs Blackburn Rovers
The EFL Cup does not look like a priority for Blackburn, who need to either to finish in the top side of the Championship table or to try to go to playoffs. They have bee na Premier League club for a long time and they’d try to return in the top flight in any of the following seasons. Bournemouth are a good side, despite that they have loss 4:0 on their visit to Turf Moor during the weekend.
AFC Bournemouth to win: 2:1
Blackpool vs Queens Park Rangers
I’ll tip Queens Park Rangers to win this one. The difference between both sides aren’t huge despite that Blackpool are playing in the League One this season.
QPR to win: 1:2
Burton Albion vs Burnley
Burnley have just exited the UEFA League cup and it looks to me that they will focus on the Premier League. However, this game comes for them on the back of an excellent win against AFC Bournemouth and I think that they’ll not ignore the EFL Cup, at least not at this stage. This is a club that need to earn money and if they get drawn against any of the big Premier League clubs it will be a good fixture for them.
Burnley to win: 0:2
Millwall vs Fulham
It is a London derby and both team played against each other last season. Fulham play a good football, but need to improve their defence. The Slavisa Jokanovic led team have players who are hungry for success and I think that they will not ignore the EFL Cup. All depends of what kind of a team Fulham will play with. Millwall look like they will have a tough season in the Championship, but as they play on their own ground and Expect them to give Fulham a fight.
Oxford United vs Manchester City
City are too good for Oxford who are sitting at the bottom of the League One table. Pep Guardiola will use this fixture to give some game time to a number players.
Manchester City to win: 0:2
Preston North End vs Middlesbrough
Preston and Middlesbrough sit ni the opposite side of the Championship table and The host would use this fixture to improve their performance.
Preston to win: 2:1
Wolverhampton vs Leicester City
I have had a chance to mention that the EFL Cup is important for both teams and I think that they will draw on this fixtures.
Wycombe Wanderers vs Norwich City
Norwich are in a good position in the Championship to try to sneak into the playoffs, despite that most of the team above them are better prepared for a top table finish. Wycombe are an average League One team so far, but each and every cup game is an opportunity for them.
Manchester United vs Derby County
It is going to be a good fixture for the Frank Lampard led Derby to got to Old Trafford and try win this fixture. It is an opportunity for Lampard to show his players how to play in big games. Manchester United cannot afford to loose a fixture like this, despite that this tournament isn’t important for them. Jose Mourinho should put a strong side against Derby and I don’t expect that it will be an easy fixture for United.
Manchester United to win: 3:1
West Bromwich Albion vs Crystal Palace
I think that Crystal Palace will win this fixture. West Brom’s manager Darren Moore is credited with the task to return the club into the Premier League as soon as possible and the Cups might prove to be a distraction for the Baggies. However, as it is with any other club, they could not simply go out to loose a game in front of their own fans.
Crystal Palace have many good players who need to feel they compete for something and the EFL Cup looks like their tournament this season.
Crystal Palace to win: 1:2
Arsenal vs Brentford
This fixture is an opportunity for Unai Emery to give some playing time for his reserves and he will do that. I don’t believe that EFL Cup is on Arsenal’s radar this season, but being kicked out from Brentford at Emirates isn’t a good outcome for them. Brenford themselves are a strong side that must not be underestimated. They will try to enter the Championship playoffs and I think that they will also try to progress in the EFL Carabao Cup.
Arsenal to win: 2:1
Liverpool vs Chelsea
It is very important what both managers will do. The team selection would be a key for a win in this fixture. I think that both Jurgen Klopp and Maurizio Sarri will give chances for some of their reserves to play on this fixture. A loss for Liverpool would live them open for criticism, while a loss of Chelsea would not be considered as a setback.
Nottingham Forest vs Stoke City
Forest are another team who will prioritize the EFL Cup. They should be good enough to fight for one of the top two places in the Championship, but they have drawn too many games so far this season taht that’s why they sit 9th in the table. However, there is only 3 points difference between them and the West From who sit on the 3rd place.
Stoke City look like a team who will spend at least two season in the Championship, before trying to return into the English top flight. The EFL Carabao cup is an opportunity for them, but It looks to me that Forest will go past them.
Nottingham Forest to win: 2:1
West Ham United vs Macclesfield Town
Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers won 4 points against strong opponents – away at Everton and at home against Chelsea. It looks like they have started improving under Pellegrini and the EFL Cup is a real opportunity for them to show their ambition. I don’t expect the Hammers to win the tournament, but I expect them to go as far as possible.
West Ham to win: 2:0
Tottenham Hotspur vs Watford
Mauricio Pochettino’ Spurs don’t need to play games like this one. Watford are good enough to beat Spurs are they already did in their Premier League home fixture. It will be too much for Tottenham to loose another game against the Hornets. At the same time EFL Cup looks like an important fixture for Watford and I think they will give their best to progress in the tournament.