Things to look out for in the League Cup this week

It won’t be straightforward for England’s biggest clubs in the League Cup this week.

Squad depth key to Liverpool’s game with Chelsea

Considering that Liverpool and Chelsea will meet in the Premier League fewer than 72 hours after their league cup tie, it seems unlikely that both teams will be at full strength for Wednesday’s game. Liverpool’s recent progress has been defined by the quality of their squad as a whole, with players such as Naby Keita, Daniel Sturridge, Joe Gomez and Fabinho missing their weekend win over Southampton. It’s therefore unlikely that their rhythm will be disrupted here, even if Jurgen Klopp rings the changes. Meanwhile, opposite number Maurizio Sarri can call upon the likes of Alvaro Morata, Cesc Fabregas, Gary Cahill and Victor Moses, all of whom have experienced recent success with the Blues. Despite the upcoming league schedule, there is no excuse for defeat with both squads boasting such ability.

Arsenal win not as straightforward as it first appears

Five straight wins in all competitions have lifted the mood at Arsenal after Unai Emery’s tenure started with defeat to Manchester City and Chelsea. However, aside from in their 4-2 win over Vorskla, the Gunners have not convinced, leaving their league cup game against Brentford far from a foregone conclusion. Arsenal hosted Doncaster Rovers, Norwich City, West Ham and Chelsea in the cup last season and failed to win any of those matches by more than a single goal. Considering that Emery is likely to rotate his line-up, the visitors will know that they can spring a surprise.

Will Derby hold out for penalties against Manchester United?

Judging by Wolves’ performance at Old Trafford on Saturday, Derby would do well to attack Manchester United when the two sides meet tonight. Jose Mourinho’s men have kept just two clean sheets so far this season, while Derby returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over Brentford at the weekend. However, the Red Devils have not lost a home league cup game in 90 minutes since 2007, while Jose Mourinho has only ever lost two League Cup games before extra time (to Hull and Bristol City in 2017). Derby’s hopes may lie with a penalty shootout; excluding friendlies, United have lost their last four.

Gayle given opportunity to put former club to the sword

Dwight Gayle has represented five professional clubs during his short career, but it was at Crystal Palace where he has made the most appearances to date. The striker managed a remarkable eight goals in five league cup matches for the Eagles between 2013 and 2016 and has the chance to add to that tally when he turns out for West Brom against Palace tonight. Gayle has scored four goals in four games since the start of his loan spell with the Baggies. Since 2007, only three visiting teams have won a League Cup tie at the Hawthorns: Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City. Could Gayle be the man to fire the Baggies through to the next round?

Tottenham and Watford out to rediscover early season form

When Tottenham and Watford met at Vicarage Road at the start of the month, both sides boasted perfect records so far this season, but the run ended for Spurs as the Hornets came from behind to win the game 2-1. That defeat began a series of defeats for Mauricio Pochettino’s men which finally came to an end with an unconvincing 2-1 win at Brighton on Saturday. Watford have since dropped points in back-to-back games, with manager Javi Gracia lamenting the missed opportunity to beat Fulham on Saturday. Defeat for either side here would not be disastrous, but it certainly add fuel to recent criticism.