English League Cup 2013: Complete Preview for Wednesday's 3rd-Round Matches
The third round of the 2013-14 English Football Cup, otherwise known as the Capital One Cup, kicked off on Tuesday. Sunderland, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur were among the teams who picked up a victory, while Cardiff City, Aston Villa and Everton all stumbled.
Wednesday's schedule doesn't quite have the quantity of matches that its predecessor had to offer, but the remaining five fixtures all feature clubs in position to make some noise in the rounds to follow.
As you can see with this tweet from FIFA.com's official account, a lively debate among football fans is sure to take place before, during and after each match:
Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and defending Capital One Cup champion Swansea City headline the 10 clubs in action on Wednesday, but we'll take a look at the complete schedule and review each match individually below.
*For a complete look at the 2013-14 Capital One Cup list of upcoming fixtures and previous results, visit CapitalOneCup.co.uk.
Complete Wednesday Schedule
|Time (ET)||Time (BST)||Home||Away|
|2:45 p.m.||7:45 p.m.||Birmingham City||vs.||Swansea City|
|2:45 p.m.||7:45 p.m.||Manchester United||vs.||Liverpool|
|2:45 p.m.||7:45 p.m.||Newcastle United||vs.||Leeds United|
|2:45 p.m.||7:45 p.m.||Tranmere Rovers||vs.||Stoke City|
|3 p.m.||8 p.m.||West Bromwich Albion||vs.||Arsenal|
Third Round Preview
Birmingham City vs. Swansea City
Swansea has high hopes for a repeat performance in this year's tournament, as evidenced by the club's Twitter post in anticipation of their first Capital One Cup match since winning the trophy:
Birmingham comes in with some momentum after breaking a six-match winless streak on Saturday. The Championship side defeated Sheffield Wednesday 4-1 in the contest, as Manchester United loan Jesse Lingard recorded all four goals in his Birmingham debut.
Michael Laudrup's men have three wins in four matches since losing to Spurs and Petrolul Ploiesti in consecutive matches in late August. They will be highly motivated to prove last year's appearance was no fluke.
Look for the Swans to overcome any road woes and take home a comfortable victory.
Manchester United vs. Liverpool
The premier match of the evening will take place at Old Trafford, where the Red Devils and Reds will clash less than a month after Brendan Rodgers' side handed David Moyes his first Premier League loss with United.
While revenge from that setback and moving forward from a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester City will be motivation for United, all eyes will be on much-maligned Liverpool star Luis Suarez.
Sky Sports Football on Twitter agrees:
Preview: All eyes will be on Luis Suarez when Liverpool take on Man Utd in the third round of the Capital One Cup. http://t.co/CFyH0oKoGV— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) September 25, 2013
Suarez served the final piece of his 10-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic on Saturday against Southampton, and he's now eligible to return to Rodgers' first unit. Per this tweet from Fox Soccer, the Uruguayan striker is ready to make his 2013-14 club debut:
Brendan Rodgers says Luis Suarez is "champing at the bit" to return to Liverpool first team. http://t.co/rratMAYvqx— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) September 23, 2013
While the Reds will get back a key piece of their attack on Wednesday, United will likely be without one of theirs. As reported by Sky Sports Football, Robin van Persie will miss the third-round match with an injury:
Robin van Persie will miss Manchester United's Capital One Cup clash with Liverpool on Wednesday through injury. http://t.co/BW7LJRjg12— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) September 24, 2013
Expect a gritty, exciting performance from both sides in this one. United's depth will be tested without their top scorer, while Suarez's return has a chance to extend Liverpool's undefeated record against the Red Devils this season.
Newcastle United vs. Leeds United
The Magpies' encouraging start to the Premier League campaign was halted by Hull City on Saturday, and Yohan Cabaye is expected to miss this match with injury.
Although Newcastle has next to zero momentum, they do have the friendly confines of St. James's Park and the history of success against Leeds to fall back on. Per BBC Sport, Newcastle has just one loss against Leeds in their last nine head-to-head matches, a resume that includes six wins and two draws.
The Whites have consecutive losses on their heads after a six-match streak in the opposite direction to start the season. Brian McDermott doesn't have the injury or rest concerns of Alan Pardew, but his side faces a tough test with the fourth round on the line.
Tranmere Rovers vs. Stoke City
Tranmere have just one win in eight League One matches this season, but Stoke City manager Mark Hughes is refusing to let his Premier League side relax in anticipation of Wednesday's tilt.
According to a report from The Sentinel, Hughes has informed his club that an upset will not be tolerated, even though Stoke will travel to Prenton Park for the match.
Speaking of, Tranmere's official Twitter account had a beautiful picture of the stadium just hours before the match was scheduled to begin:
Kenwyne Jones had a hat trick and became one of the tournament's top scorers as Stoke defeated Walsall in Round 2, and might be in line for more. Per BBC Sport, Jones has scored seven times in his last six League Cup matches.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Arsenal
Arguably the most intriguing matchup on the schedule behind Manchester United-Liverpool, Arsenal will travel to The Hawthorns on Wednesday to face off with West Brom.
Currently riding a seven-match winning streak, the Gunners have made their opening-week loss to Aston Villa seem like a distant memory. However, injuries continue to mount for Arsene Wenger's side. Just check out the contents of this tweet for confirmation:
Luckily, star transfer Mesut Ozil won't be among those out of contention for playing time.
The Gunners will be playing their fourth match in the last 12 days, something that certainly sides with the home club. A return of Shane Long to the lineup, something ESPN FC's David Instone discussed in a recent column, will also help.
Arsenal are the the unquestioned favorites in this one, but don't be surprised if West Brom takes the current EPL table co-leaders to the brink.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant on Twitter.
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