An epic collision for a quarter final slot in this season’s EFL Carabao Cup takes place at Old Trafford tonight where Manchester United lock horns with Newcastle United in a repeat of last May’s final which the hosts won 2-0. It’s a clash between sides with near equal strength as both Erik Ten Haag’s Red Devils and Eddie Howe’s Magpies have won exactly half of the fourteen games they’ve played across all competitions in the 2023/24 campaign.
Manchester United’s Carabao Cup victory was the club’s first silverware in seven years in what was described as a platform to launch the record English Premier League champions into a new age of success. It hasn’t worked out as planned. An extended list of injuries, kamikaze defending and last season’s 30-goal hero Marcus Rashford’s loss of form has condemned the Old Trafford giants to their worst start to a campaign in decades.
World Cup winning defender Raphael Varane is in contention to start after being controversially overlooked for Sunday’s 0-3 Premier League capitulation at the hands of Manchester City. But with Tyrell Malacia, Sergio Reguilon and Luke Shaw still in the treatment room, Ten Haag is without a recognised left back. Anyone of Victor Linderof, Diogo Dalot or Sofyane Amrabat could fill in at left back.
Though they have lost their way in recent weeks, and have registered just one victory in four outings, Newcastle United ousted Manchester City in the previous round and are the English top flight’s highest scorers. Howe’s charges go into the crunch fixture without top scorer Alexander Isak, key defender Sven Botman, suspended Italian midfield metronome Sandro Tonali and winger Jacob Murphy but they will fancy their chances of breaching a Manchester United defense that has kept only four clean sheets all season.
An equally fascinating duel takes place at London’s Olympic Stadium where David Moyes’ Europa Conference League winners West Ham United aim to upset the applecart by getting the better of city rivals Arsenal. Gunners striker Eddie Nketiah should keep his starting place after bludgeoning a hat trick in Arsenal’s 5-0 obliteration of Sheffield United. Jarred Bowen, Michail Antonio and Said Benrahma will spearhead the Hammers attack as they search for a riposte to consecutive defeats to Olympiakos (1-2) and Everton (0-1).
The Carabao Cup has gained increasing importance in recent years, a reality underlined by the fact that no team outside of England’s traditional Top Six has won the trophy since Swansea beat Bradford 2-0 to win the 2013 edition. The last ten years have witnessed Manchester City lift the trophy six times, Manchester United twice, with Chelsea and Liverpool winners on one occasion each.
Mansfield 0-1 Port Vale,
Exeter 2-3 Boro
West Ham United v Arsenal,
Manchester United v Newcastle United,
Chelsea v Blackburn Rovers,
Bournemouth v Liverpool,
Everton v Burnley