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.”

Ranking the Premier League summer transfers that are already completed #1

We look at and rank some of the summer transfers already completed in the Premier League. From Liverpool to Swansea, can these signings make a name for themselves at their new clubs this season?

Roberto Firmino – Liverpool

Starting his career with Figueirense in 2009, Firmino spent four-and-a-half seasons at Hoffenheim, helping them to promotion to the Bundesliga in the process. His 16 goals in 33 games for the 2013–14 Bundesliga season earned him the award for the league’s ‘Breakthrough player of the season’. The Brazillian attacking midfielder signed for Liverpool back in July for a sum of around £29 million.

Roberto Firmino has stated upon his arrival in the Premier League that “of course, everything will once again be new to me at the start. I’m going to have to get used to a new style of play but I’ll also get the opportunity to improve my game even further. Of course, I want to be a regular starter at Liverpool and be successful with my new team.”

Firmino Liverpool

Although a huge sum of money was needed to acquire the services of Roberto Firmino for Liverpool, I believe that he has the skill and technical capability to thrive in front of the Kop at Anfield. A midfield three of Firmino, Lallana and Coutinho sat behind Daniel Sturrdige could prove to be a winning formula for the Merseyside club next season in their quest for a top four finish.

B+

 

Cedric Soares – Southampton

Cedric Soares, known simply as Cedric, is a Portuguese right back whom became Southampton’s second signing of the summer when he joined on a four-year deal in June. The 23 year old has a growing reputation due to his strong performances at former club Sporting Lisbon and his representation of Portugal at every level from Under-16 upwards, gaining 72 youth caps in total. Cedric further has 4 caps for senior Portuguese national side.  Cedric is known for his attacking instincts and ability and desire to bomb forward from full-back. These are attributes which should suit him well at Southampton, who utilised the attacking combinations of full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand to great effect last season.

In an interview with Southampton’s official website, Cedric stated that “everyone knows that the Premier League is a very, very good league – maybe the best one in the world – so for me it’s a pleasure to be here, but even more of a pleasure to be in Southampton. Southampton is a big, big club in England and is very respected. It’s a club with a lot of history and, for me, it’s very important to play for a big club. I think this is a very good move.”

Southampton’s move for Cedric Soares was key for the club to fill the vacant position left behind by Nathaniel Clyne who has since moved to Premier League rivals Liverpool. With a rumoured transfer fee of only £5 million involved, Southampton have got a great deal here. The pacey right back will be a consistent player for Southampton next year as the club look to further improve in the future.

B+

 

Toby Alderweireld – Tottenham

Tottenham signed Toby Alderweireld for an undisclosed fee from Atletico Madrid on a five-year contract earlier this month. Alderweireld, who was on loan at Southampton last season from the La Liga side, is a solid signing for the North London club. The 26-year-old Belgium defender made 26 Premier League appearances last season. The defender has spoken about his move to Spurs stating that he was “looking forward to this but also looking back at a great Southampton season. Great club and fans,” he said. Alderweireld added he was “very proud” to be a Tottenham player and hoped “to have a wonderful time with this team”.

It is still been rumoured however that the Saints may take legal action against the transfer as the club believed they had an option to buy the centre-back for £6.8m unless Atletico paid £1.5m to buy back that clause but are understood to have not proceeded with this option. The centre back has 47 caps for Belgium and joins international team-mates Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen at White Hart Lane. “It’s a big club and it’s always been a dream to play at a club like Spurs,” he told Tottenham’s website further adding “now that dream is coming true so I’m very happy, very proud and I will give my best.”

Alderweireld started his career at Ajax and won three Dutch Eredivisie titles in nine seasons at the club. He moved to Atletico Madrid in September 2013 and, in his only season at the club before moving to Southampton, helped them to the Spanish league title and final of the Champions League, which they lost to rivals Real Madrid.

This signing is shrewd business for Tottenham who have substantially improved their back line with the acquisition of Toby Alderweireld. The transfer is said to be worth around £8 million which could prove to be a steal for the North London club.

A-

 

Dimitri Payet – West Ham United

What a signing this could prove to be for West Ham! A team that is use to mid table obscurity within recent seasons, this transfer signals a real intent at the London club to make strides forward and to possibly challenge for a top eight finish next season.

West Ham United completed the signing of the Marseille forward Dimitri Payet for a fee believed to be £10.7m in late June. The east London club announced that Payet, 28, have signed a five-year deal with a further one-year option and becomes a major addition to the playing squad under their new manager, Slaven Bilic.

“West Ham really showed me that they wanted me to come, both the joint-chairmen [David Gold and David Sullivan] and the manager,” Payet told the club’s website. “That’s very important for me. I was also keen to sign up to a clear project. West Ham’s is very interesting and matches perfectly with my ambitions. “I’m an attacking footballer and that they’re counting on me to help achieve that gives me a sense of responsibility. It’s true that it’s taken a little while but that’s normal negotiations are like that. But now that it’s done, I’m very happy.”

Payet WHU

The versatile Payet topped the Ligue 1 assist charts last season with 16 in 36 appearances, as well as scoring seven goals for a Marseille side who came fourth in Ligue 1 last season. He can play in a number of attacking positions, adding depth and variation to a frontline. Payet, who spent two seasons at Marseille after playing for Nantes, Saint-Étienne and Lille, also has 15 caps for France.

This is a fantastic singing for the Hammers who are developing an exciting forward line which further includes Mauro Zarate, Enner Valencia and Diafra Sahko. Although a large transfer fee for a mid-table team, Payet will be a success at West Ham and in the Premier League in general.

A

 

Yohann Cabaye – Crystal Palace

Today, Crystal Palace have completed the signing of Yohan Cabaye from French champions Paris St-Germain for a club-record transfer fee of £10m. Palace have announced that the 29-year-old midfielder has joined on a three-year deal, with the fee possibly rising to around £13m with add-ons. Cabaye joined PSG from Newcastle for £19m in January 2014 but started just 13 matches as Laurent Blanc’s side won a domestic treble last season. Further, Palace manager Alan Pardew signed Cabaye from Lille in 2011 during his time as Newcastle boss, with the France international going on to score 18 goals in 93 appearances for the Magpies.

Cabaye said he was focused on his “new life” and believed that Palace could “compete to get into the top eight”. He said: “I also know the gaffer and have worked with him before and I’m confident with him. I want to do my best for him because he’s made a big effort to get me to come here, as well as the chairman.”

Signing Cabaye is a huge coup for Crystal Palace, a club who until 12 months ago had never survived relegation from the Premier League. Cabaye comes in and adds true quality and an eye for goal to the midfield of a team which played superbly under Pardew in the second half of last season.

Just like Payet at West Ham United, Yohann Cabaye represents a huge outlay for Crystal Palace but brings a sense of intrigue and class to their central midfield position. The signing of the French international could propel Palace further up the league table and could see them achieve a top ten finish in the 2015/2016 season under Alan Pardew.

A

 

Joselu – Stoke City

Stoke City confirmed that they had signed Hannover 96 striker Joselu for a fee of €8 million (£5.7m) in late June.  The striker became the club’s second acquisition of the summer, after goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard, with the club announcing that they have paid £5.7 million for the forward. Joselu – full name Jose Luis Sanmartin Mato – is a 6ft 3in striker, a good finisher whom possesses the pace to stretch defences. For Hannover last season, the 25-year-old Joselu won 188 aerial duels, more than any player in the Premier League managed.

The 25-year-old, who joined Real Madrid as a teenager before leaving for the Bundesliga, becomes the third Spaniard at the Britannia Stadium alongside Bojan Krkic and Marc Muniesa. Joselu scored eight goals in 30 Bundesliga appearances last season, whilst also providing four assists, and it has been reported that the deal could cost over £7 million in total, when both wages and transfer fee are factored in.

Prior to his stint at Bundesliga side Hannover, Joselu played for Real Madrid Castilla (B team) for two full seasons, pairing up with Alvaro Morata – now of Juventus – in the forward positions. He scored 40 goals in 72 games between 2010 and 2012 for Castilla and managed to score in both first team matches he played a part in.

This transfer further emphasises Stoke City and Mark Hughes move to a more possession and skill based style of play as opposed to a previous style which was based on physicality and long balls under Tony Pulis. However Joselu’s height, at 6ft 3, gives Hughes many options in how to play the forward next season at the Britannia Stadium.

B

 

Andre Ayew – Swansea City

In what could be the transfer coup of the summer so far, Ghana forward André Ayew has joined Swansea on a four-year deal, subject to international clearance on a free transfer. The 25-year-old midfielder was out of contract at Marseille and will now join the Premier League club who have been looking to strengthen their forward options since Wilfried Bony was sold to Manchester City in January.

Ayew, who was on target against the United States and Germany at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, has won more than 60 caps for Ghana, playing in four African Cup of Nations and two World Cups, and had scored 52 goals in 181 games for Marseille since making his debut in 2007 for the Ligue 1 side.

On Sky Sports News, Andre Ayew said “I looked left and right and I thought Swansea was the best choice for me to grow as player, not only football-wise but I heard about the squad, how the players live together and the team spirit. So I thought it was great to come to Swansea because I know how positive it is here. I’m going to do everything to be ready to adapt but I’m lucky because I’ve played against a lot of English players in the Champions League. I’ll have a pre-season to get ready before the season starts, so I’ll have time to adapt.”

Swansea City Unveil New Signing Andre Ayew

With an impressive record of scoring from midfielder, Andre Ayew looks like he will fit in well at the Liberty Stadium alongside other midfielders such as Jonjo Shelvey, who just signed a new four year deal, and Gylfi Sigurðsson. To further get a player of his stature on a free transfer, Swansea have taken another great step in the right direction.

A –