Following this week's fifth-round action, there are only four clubs still alive in the 2013-14 Capital One Cup, which will continue with two semi-final matchups in January.
December's fifth-round single-elimination matches certainly didn't disappoint, as Sunderland shocked Chelsea in extra time and West Ham United upset Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart lane. The semi-final draw, held shortly after the conclusion of the final fifth-round games on Wednesday, Dec. 18, revealed the two semi-final matchups, which will be contested over the course of two legs spanning a two-week period next month.
#CapitalOneCup Semi-Final First leg ties are to be played during the w/c 6th January 2014. Second leg ties are w/c 20th January 2014.— Capital One Cup (@CapitalOne_Cup) December 18, 2013
The first semi-final will pit surprising Sunderland up against defending Premier League champions Manchester United, while the second will see West Ham United take on Manchester City.
Below we'll breakdown the two Capital One Cup semi-final matchups and take a closer look at the upcoming fixtures.
|Week of Jan. 6, 2014||Sunderland vs. Manchester United||Stadium of Light|
|Week of Jan. 6, 2014||Manchester City vs. West Ham United||Etihad Stadium|
|Week of Jan. 20, 2014||Manchester United vs. Sunderland||Old Trafford|
|Week of Jan. 20, 2014||West Ham United vs. Manchester City||Boleyn Ground|
Sunderland vs. Manchester United
Manchester United have the clear advantage in this matchup. The Red Devils boast more firepower than the Black Cats and have already proven they can beat them at Stadium of Light, winning 2-1 there back in October in the Premier League.
David Moyes reacted to the draw, via United's Twitter account:
David Moyes reacts to semi-final draw: “We have a tough semi – Sunderland played really well to beat Chelsea. I’m pleased to be away first.”— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 18, 2013
Granted, the Red Devils may be without some of their big names with Premier League play taking priority for Moyes, but Javier Hernandez could be healed and back to 100 percent in time for United's two showdowns with Sunderland. Hernandez has scored three goals in two Capital One Cup starts this season.
What's more, United have yet to concede a goal through three Capital One Cup victories, playing lights-out in front of goal and outscoring Liverpool, Norwich City and Stoke City by a combined mark of 7-0 since the third round.
Still, don't expect Moyes and United to take their opponents lightly, per The Guardian:
We had to win the game before we got into the next round but thankfully we did and we'll have a tough semi-final against Sunderland now.
It's a cup game and it shows you how well Sunderland can play when they beat Chelsea last night. They played well to get that result and they've got a new manager now.
A lot of things can happen between now and then but we're just really pleased we've got ourselves into the semi-final.
Sunderland have been stellar from an offensive standpoint in this competition as well, scoring at least two goals in each of their past four victories. However, Gus Poyet's side haven't been so tight at the back, letting in an own goal against Chelsea in the previous round and conceding late in their fourth-round win over Southampton.
The Black Cats will have a shot to keep it close in their home leg next month, but expect United to pull away on aggregate in the second leg at Old Trafford.
West Ham United vs. Manchester City
Like their crosstown rivals, Manchester City have already proven themselves to be the superior club in their Capital One Cup semi-final matchup. The Citizens topped West Ham United 3-1 two months ago at the Boleyn Ground and will now have an opportunity to battle the Hammers home and away.
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The player to watch in this matchup will be Edin Dzeko for Manchester City. The 27-year-old Bosnian has already scored four goals through three Capital One Cup victories and is sure to add to that count against West Ham.
As a team, City have outscored their previous three Capital One Cup opponents 10-1. Despite having discovered an offensive rhythm themselves, the Hammers are sure to struggle to contain City's explosive attack.
West Ham needed a pair of late goals to beat Spurs and two penalty strikes to get past Burnley in the fourth round. If there's good news for West Ham heading into this semi-final, it's that they will host the second leg, providing them with an opportunity to rally on aggregate.
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