Carabao Cup round three sees the rest of the Premier League sides enter the competition for the first time this season. The draw after the second round threw up plenty of potential upsets, with all seven of England’s European representatives facing opposition from the Football League.
The biggest gulf in sides sees League Two outfit Grimsby Town travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur make the short journey to Essex to meet Colchester United, while Manchester United and Liverpool go up against League One teams in Rochdale and MK Dons respectively.
Carabao Cup Round Three
Chelsea and Manchester United Should be Comfortable
Home games against lower-league opposition should be routine for both Chelsea and Manchester United.
Frank Lampard’s Blues face Grimsby who, despite going well in League Two under Michael Jolley, should aim to go and enjoy their day out more than anything, and treat any positive result as a huge bonus.
The same could be said of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at United, although a result would also do him the world of good. The Red Devils churned out a turgid performance against West Ham United in the Premier League on Sunday and will hope to put that right against Rochdale, even if few of the players fielded against the Hammers actually make an appearance.
United have won this competition in the recent past and will see this as a golden opportunity to kick on and perhaps bag a trophy at the end of it. Lampard, meanwhile, with such limited depth of squad, has a slightly bigger problem. Though the overall quality of Chelsea should see them through this game, he may have to cut his losses later in the competition depending on how kind the draw is.
Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur Tasks Slightly More Difficult
On paper, wins for Liverpool and Spurs in their games should be as routine as they should be for their Premier League counterparts. Away from home, though, their tasks are slightly more advanced.
MK Dons have previous in this competition. Karl Robinson masterminded the stunning 4-0 win over Manchester United back in 2014, a game that still haunts United to this day, and Liverpool must be careful the same doesn’t happen to them. They have a Champions League date against RB Salzburg next week and their U21 side are in action against Fleetwood Town in the EFL Trophy the same day they take on the Dons, meaning only a limited number of youngsters will be available for Jurgen Klopp’s 11 in Milton Keynes.
Colchester were one of the giant-killers of round two, having knocked out Premier League outfit Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. They held the Eagles to a goalless draw before going on to win the game on penalties. Spurs, meanwhile, have faced numerous lower-league opposition in cup competitions in recent years. Rochdale and Newport County both held them to draws at their home grounds before going on to lose replays, while AFC Wimbledon gave them a troubling time at Wembley as well. Mauricio Pochettino has recently spoken of the unrest in the camp at Spurs, particularly after their 2-1 defeat to Leicester City, and could make a host of changes in a bid to avoid the nervy cup displays they have put on in the past.
Elsewhere, Leicester could face difficulty themselves as they travel to Kenilworth Road to take on Luton Town. The Hatters have made an okay start to life back in the second tier, and Leicester have been one of Newport’s cup scalps in the past, so will be all too familiar with the dangers of facing lower league opposition.
Nathan Jones could also have his job on the line if Stoke City fail to beat Crawley Town. The former Luton boss has endured a torrid time at the Potters helm and defeat against the League Two high-flyers could surely spell the end.
Lastly, fresh from their 6-0 battering of Lincoln City at the weekend, Oxford United host a West Ham side who will be buoyed by their win over Manchester United this weekend. Manuel Pellegrini must have thoughts in the back of his mind about a cup run this season, and facing opposition such as Oxford, even away from home, presents an easier passage to the fourth round than many have been given.
Arsenal v Nottingham Forest
Colchester United v Tottenham Hotspur
Crawley Town v Stoke City
Luton Town v Leicester City
Portsmouth v Southampton
Preston North End v Manchester City
Sheffield Wednesday v Everton
Burton Albion v Bournemouth
Chelsea v Grimsby Town
MK Dons v Liverpool
Oxford United v West Ham United
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Reading
Manchester United v Rochdale – 20.00 pm