Football League Cup 2013: Potential Upsets in the Fourth Round

Christopher AtkinsContributor IOctober 29, 2013

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26: Manager Sean Dyche of Burnley smiles during the Sky Bet Championship match between Burnley and Queens Park Rangers at Turf Moor on October 26, 2013 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)

The fourth round of the Capital One Cup will take place over the next couple of days, with 16 sides battling it out for a place in the quarterfinal stage.

The competition, in all its guises, has always been ripe for upsets, with many bigger sides not always treating it as seriously as they might and smaller sides eyeing the chance of a place in European competition.

Winners over recent seasons include Birmingham City and Wigan, both of which were relegated from the Premier League in the year that they were victorious.

Ahead of this week's fourth-round ties, which clubs could pull off a shock result and take a step toward echoing Birmingham and Wigan's achievements?


Birmingham (vs. Stoke)

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Lee Clarke's Birmingham side is not having the best of times in the Championship, languishing near the bottom as the club's financial realities begin to take real effect, per the Guardian.

However, so often in the past, clubs in difficulties have managed to come together for just a few matches to conjure up some form of cup run.

Stoke are not performing well in the Premier League, with just eight points from their first nine matches, and will need to prioritise retaining their top-flight status should their current form continue.

While their reserves are good, they are far from excellent, and if Birmingham can just find a little in the way of confidence early in Tuesday's game, they could easily seal a shock result.


Burnley (vs. West Ham)

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Sean Dyche's Burnley approach their encounter with West Ham off the back of eight consecutive wins that have seen up the Championship table to lie in first position after 13 games.

Their run includes a convincing 2-0 win over Harry Redknapp's QPR side this past weekend—Rangers' first league defeat of a season in which they are expected to earn promotion.

Sam Allardyce's West Ham squad is far from the biggest and, with several talented youngsters needing opportunities, he will surely look to rotate for the encounter.

If Dyche's side continue to take the cup seriously, they stand a real chance of securing a home win Tuesday.


Leicester (vs. Fulham)

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Second in the Championship, Leicester come into Tuesday's cup tie in excellent form after five wins in their past six league matches.

Their opponents put out a strong side in the last round, but are deep in the bottom half of the Premier League despite two recent victories.

On paper, assuming Fulham play a strong side, it should be no contest. However, with Leicester brimming with confidence, it will be a much tighter game than many would expect.

Midfielders Matty James and Danny Drinkwater have been excellent all season and will fancy their chances should Martin Jol choose to change his central options. The game may hinge, then, upon how many changes Jol makes for the tie.


Newcastle (vs. Manchester City)

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Newcastle United will have a point to prove on Wednesday following a lacklustre derby defeat to Gus Poyet's Sunderland this weekend.

With Manchester City having far bigger ambitions this season than the Capital One Cup, the likes of Jack Rodwell, Edin Dzeko and James Milner are all likely to be involved, as well as youngsters like Rony Lopes.

So many changes will almost certainly lead to a disjointed performance, at least in the early stages, and Newcastle have the talent—even among some of their reserve options—to take advantage of any unfamiliarity.

Newcastle look set to be fairly secure in the Premier League and the cup is a route into Europe. If Alan Pardew can drum that fact into his players, he may be able to inspire a performance at St James's Park.