Capital One Cup: Quarter Final Preview

Tonight see’s the return of this years Capital One Cup campaign with three of the four quarter final matches kicking off at 19:45. The three matches in the competition tonight see three in-form Championship sides face tough tasks in playing Manchester City, Everton and Stoke respectively with Southampton taking on Liverpool at St Mary’s Stadium on Wednesday night.

Although nothing is certain in cup competitions in England as upsets are becoming common place in the various different tournaments that are played out throughout the course of the season, I can only envisage three wins for the Premier League sides in tonight’s showdowns.

MANCHESTER CITY VS HULL CITY

In positive news for fans of the Manchester outfit, Manchester City playmaker David Silva could make his first start in nearly two months in the League Cup quarter-final against Hull. The Spaniard came on as a late substitute in City’s last outing against Southampton in the Premier League last Saturday.

David Silva could start for the first time in two months.
David Silva could start for the first time in two months.

As for their opposition, Hull sit fourth in the Championship after a very strong start to the season in which Steve Bruce’s side have conceded the fewest goals, alongside Derby County, in the league. Despite this, the Tigers will be without experienced centre back Michael Dawson who is struggling to overcome a hamstring injury.

Michael Dawson is out for Hull. Will his experience be missed in the heart of their defence?
Michael Dawson is out for Hull. Will his experience be missed in the heart of their defence?

Manchester City boss Pellegrini: “Maybe for teams that are out of some competitions – the Champions League or the Capital One Cup – it is easier to play in the Premier League. But we always want to continue in all the competitions.”

Hull boss Steve Bruce: “We have got to have the belief that we can go and take them on. Last year in the Premier League we caused them a few problems. Up until Friday we hadn’t been beaten for four months. We’ve had a really consistent run – we’ve only lost three out of 22 games, and so we can feel a bit confident.”

Although I fully expect Hull to play a tough game and make it difficult for the Premier League leaders, Manchester City should overcome the Championship outfit at the Etihad Stadium tonight. Manuel Pellegrini will recognise that with the other ‘bigger’ teams already out of the tournament, the opportunity presents itself here for Manchester City to take the first piece of silverware on offer this season.

MIDDLESBROUGH VS EVERTON

Aitor Karanka has a full-strength Boro squad to choose from after their 2-0 win over Huddersfield on Saturday. Striker Cristhian Stuani could make his first start since he recovered from an injury sustained on international duty. Middlesbrough are currently second placed in the Championship this season and are one of the free scoring teams in the second tier of English football. The side from the North-East also beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in the last sixteen round of the competition and will be confident after their success against the Red Devils.

Middlesbrough beat Manchester United on penalties to reach tonight's quarter final tie.
Middlesbrough beat Manchester United on penalties to reach tonight’s quarter final tie.

Roberto Martinez will give James McCarthy (groin) and Gareth Barry (shin) late fitness checks ahead of the League Cup quarter-final against Middlesbrough. The Toffees boss has also confirmed keeper Joel Robles will start in goal.

Ross Barkley has been in impressive form for Everton this season. Could he help the Merseysiders win the cup this season?
Ross Barkley has been in impressive form for Everton this season. Could he help the Merseysiders win the cup this season?

Middlesbrough boss Karanka, whose side have beaten Manchester City and Manchester United in cup competitions in the last two seasons: “That can be our biggest problem – to think that because we beat Manchester City and Manchester United and played well against Liverpool and Arsenal, the game will be easy. The reason we did well against those teams is that we worked hard for 90 minutes or more. Just because we are close to the top of the table and we beat Manchester United in the last round and we’re playing at home and will be feeling the atmosphere, to be over-confident would be a big mistake.”

Everton manager Roberto Martinez: “In this competition I don’t think divisional status gives you a benefit. You need to be ready for the game with a clear understanding of how to perform. Clearly the mentality in our camp is to be ready – we can’t not be ready after the feeling at the weekend [drew 3-3 at Bournemouth].”

Along a similar vein to Manchester City vs Hull City, I think Middlesbrough will play well against their Premier League opposition but I fully expect Everton’s class to shine through and win the game for Roberto Martinez and the teams travelling supporters. Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley are in great form for the Merseyside club and if they feature in the match, I can only see an away win.

STOKE CITY VS SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY

Stoke City will be without skipper Ryan Shawcross for the League Cup quarter-final visit of Sheffield Wednesday after he was dismissed in his sides loss to Sunderland last weekend. Mark Hughes will also be without goalkeeper Shay Given (knee) and centre back Marc Muniesa (hamstring) for this Capital One cup tie.

Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross was dismissed at the weekend against Sunderland.
Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross was dismissed at the weekend against Sunderland.

Sheffield Wednesday head coach Carlos Carvalhal has only one injury to contend with as the Yorkshire sides manager is without key midfielder Barry Bannan (knee) for the trip to the Potteries who has been in great form this season for the Owls.

Sheffield Wednesday outclassed Arsenal in the last round of the Capital One cup.
Sheffield Wednesday outclassed Arsenal in the last round of the Capital One cup.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes: “We won’t underestimate Sheffield Wednesday in any way, shape or form. If you look at their progression in the competition they have beaten two Premier League sides already. We’re at home and when the draw was made if we’re honest enough we can say they were one of the teams we wanted to have. You can’t argue about that. If we’re going to progress it should be in our favour.”

Sheffield Wednesday head coach Carvalhal: “It will be cold and there will be rain probably. It’s not a good day to go to the football. There will be 4,000 fans in the rain and cold and they pay for a ticket to see us play. This means we must play to them. It happened at Blackburn on Saturday and it will happen again. We must play to all the fans. We will give 300%, give everything on the pitch and we will do that.”

In my opinion this will be the closest tie of the night in the Capital One cup as Sheffield Wednesday have already dumped Newcastle and Arsenal out of the competition en route to the quarter final stage this season. However much like the other two encounters tonight I think that the Premier League side will have a narrow advantage and expect Stoke City’s Premier League class to shine through on the night.

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This week’s Premier League winners and losers. Week #2

WINNERS

Everton

Despite fan protests in the form of an aeroplane banner asking for the resignation of Bill Kenwright & co prior to the match, Everton sailed to a straight forward and dominating win at Southampton as they ran out 3-0 winners on the South coast. A brace for star forward Romelu Lukaku, deemed unplayable on the day by football pundits and social media users alike, and a smart finish towards the end of the match from Ross Barkley left Southampton without a win from their first two Premier League games this season.

Some Everton fans flew this message prior to kick-off at St Marys
Some Everton fans flew this message prior to kick-off at St Marys

Everton outclassed Southampton for large parts of the game with ruthless counterattacking football especially from the Saints set pieces, the Toffees first goal an example of this, with particularly outstanding performances from Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley, Chelsea target John Stones and a rejuvenated  Arouna Koné.

Everton boss Roberto Martinez stated after the game that: “As a team we were outstanding in every department. The scoreline was the real truth. We were superior, we defended well, the intensity was incredible. On the counter-attack we looked unplayable at times. Many moments we were superior and that really pleases you.”

Norwich

Despite losing 3-1 to Crystal Palace last week, a match in which Norwich performed well and were largely unlucky due to a poor refereeing decision, Norwich bounced back this weekend with a 3-1 win of their own against already struggling Sunderland.

Russell Martin opened the scoring fortuitously, inadvertently turning the ball home after Costel Pantilimon parried a Robbie Brady shot. Steven Whittaker slammed home a second after a one-two with Wes Hoolahan, who also assisted in the Canaries’ third from Nathan Redmond after the break.

Duncan Watmore’s late consolation goal for Sunderland on his first team debut was the only moment of happiness for the fans up on Wierside who once again left the Stadium of Light on the back of another home defeat.

Norwich City manager Alex Neil stated after the game that: “I thought it was very good, similar to last week in that we dominated the game. We had the cutting edge this time though. The first goal is crucial – we didn’t look back. I have a great group, they work hard and work as a team.”

Stephen Ireland & Stoke City

The ‘comeback of the weekend’ award this week goes to Stoke City who fought back from 2-0 down at White Hart Lane to draw 2-2 with Tottenham. A particular highlight of the teams comeback was a superb performance off the bench by attacking midfielder Stephen Ireland whose introduction sparked the turnaround for the Midlands club.

Although 2-0 down at half time thanks to goals from Eric Dier and Nacer Chadli for the home side, Stoke came out after the break in a determined style and fashion. Marko Arnautovic pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after Toby Alderweireld brought down Joselu. Man of the match Diouf then secured a point towards the end when the forward got on to the end of Stephen Ireland’s cross.

Diouf put in a 'man of the match' performance for Stoke at White Hart Lane.
Diouf put in a ‘man of the match’ performance for Stoke at White Hart Lane.

It was deserved point for Mark Hughes’ side who diligently kept at their task in the second half, even though a comeback looked unlikely after their first-half display. Mame Diouf had a particularly good game for the Potters, looking threatening throughout the whole match.

LOSERS

Daryl Jaanmat

A weekend to quickly forgot for Newcastle United’s Dutch right-back who was sent off for two bookable offenses shortly before half time in their game away at Swansea this weekend.

Daryl Jaanmat struggled massively against the pacey left sided winger Jefferson Montero who tore the full back apart throughout the whole first half on their encounter at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Janmaat was sent off shortly before half-time for persistently fouling Jefferson Montero.

Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren: “We didn’t learn a lot apart from it is difficult to win with 10 men. A little bit of naivety has cost us, 10 men and your backs are against the wall. We have to dust ourselves down and concentrate on the Manchester United game next week.”

Jose Mourinho

Maybe this weekend’s biggest loser and that was before the match at the Etihad Stadium had even kicked off at 4pm on Sunday against Manchester City.  It only got worse on the pitch too for the Chelsea manager as his side were dismantled by their Premier League rivals, losing 3-0 in an encounter which could have easily seen more goals go in for the home side and Sergio Aguero in particular.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s turbulent week – shaped by the controversy surrounding the demotion of medical staff Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn – ended in misery as he saw his side outclassed by a resurgent City. The media backlash that the Chelsea manager has felt in the days following the sacking of his medical team has put Mourinho under massive added pressure as the City fans were relentless in their attempts to try and wind up the Chelsea boss with ironic cheers when a Chelsea player would go down injured in the match.

On the day, Manchester City outclassed their opponents and limited Chelsea to few chances, not recording their first shot on target until the 70th minute of the match as the Manchester club looked hungry to take back the title the Londoners took from them last season with resounding ease.

Sergio Aguero opens the scoring for Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
Sergio Aguero opens the scoring for Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, speaking to BBC Sport after the game at the Etihad Stadium stateed: “We were the best team by far in the second half. What they did in the first we did in the second. We dominated and when they feel they are in trouble, and they felt, they changed Aguero and Sterling. They try to recover control of the game exactly when they scored the second goal. Their goalkeeper was good and we couldn’t score. They were only coming up with long balls. Not one single problem in the second half; they had lots.”

Predicted Premier League positions for this season.

We take a look at what I believe the Premier League table will look like at the end of the 2015/2016 season including my predictions on which teams will win the two English domestic trophies during the course of the season as well.

1st – Chelsea
2nd –Arsenal
3rd – Manchester City
4th – Manchester United
5th – Liverpool
6th – Tottenham
7th – Southampton
8th – Everton
9th – Crystal Palace
10th – Stoke
11th – Swansea
12th – West Ham
13th – Newcastle
14th – Aston Villa
15th – West Bromwich Albion
16th – Bournemouth
17th – Sunderland
18th – Watford
19th – Leicester City
20th – Norwich

Capital One Cup winners – Liverpool
FA Cup winners – Manchester United

Transfers you should expect to see completed by the end of next week.

Yevhen Konoplyanka to Sevilla

The Ukrainian winger is now widely reported to be set to sign for La Liga club, Sevilla in the coming days. The forward, whose contract has now expired at Dnipro, is set to reject offers and interest from various Premier League clubs including Liverpool, Tottenham and Stoke.

Idrissa Gueye to Aston Villa

Although having a £9 million transfer offer accepted by Lille and the player flying over to Birmingham to complete a transfer to the Premier League side both Southampton and Marseille have made counter offers for Aston Villa target Idrissa Gueye. The Lille midfielder was poised to join Villa after Lille accepted a £9million offer but Saints and Marseille are understood to have made an eleventh hour bid of £10m for the Ligue 1 star.

Gueye

Asmir Begovic to Chelsea

It’s common knowledge by now that Premier League winners Chelsea are interested in Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic to play as back up to number one keeper Thibaut Courtois after losing Petr Cech earlier this week. However it’s been reported that Stoke chiefs have told Chelsea they want one of their fringe players on loan – on top of the Blues’ improved £8million offer for Asmir Begovic. Jose Mourinho wants the Bosnian keeper as back up to Thibaut Courtois to cover Petr Cech’s departure to Arsenal and Begovic wants to move to Stamford Bridge. But Stoke want winger Victor Moses, 24, forward Patrick Bamford, 21, or 19-year-old midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan as part of a deal.

Manuel Lanzini to West Ham

According to varying reports West Ham have made a move for exciting Argentine playmaker Manuel Lanzini. The 22-year-old currently plays as a forward in the United Arab Emirates for club Al Jazira. The Hammers are seeking a loan deal for next season with an option to buy him if he impresses at Upton Park.

Lanzini

Dennis Praet to Aston Villa/Southampton

Aston Villa have joined the race to sign Dennis Praet, the highly rated Belgium international who is also attracting interest from Premier League rivals Southampton and Everton. Praet is set to leave Anderlecht this summer for a fee in the region of £10m and Aston Villa have made an inquiry about the possibility of making an offer for the young attacking midfielder.

Seamus Coleman to Manchester United

Manchester United will use Jonny Evans as bait in a bid to lure Everton star Seamus Coleman to Old Trafford according to various media outlets. The Toffees insist Coleman is not for sale and that United are wasting their time making a bid for the Republic of Ireland international however Manchester United bosses remain hopeful that the club can in fact land right-back Coleman and are set to tempt the Toffees with a cash offer plus Evans in a bid to secure a deal.Seamus_Coleman

Etienne Capoue and Benjamin Stambouli to Watford

It is widely been reported that Watford have now agreed fees with Tottenham to sign their French midfielders Etienne Capoue and Benjamin Stambouli. Capoue, 26, is understood to be close to agreeing to personal terms whilst negotiations are still also ongoing with Stambouli, although an agreement with the 24-year-old is still some way from being reached. Both midfielders have had limited opportunities at Spurs and a move to the Hornets could give them more playing time at the Premier League stage.

Other likely transfers to be completed in the next week include:

Fabian Delph to Manchester City

Aleksandar Mitrović to Tottenham

Lukas Podolski to Galatasaray

Antonio Rudiger to Wolfsburg

Morgan Schneiderlin to Manchester United

Adam Matthews to Sunderland