Carabao Cup quarter-finals: 4 observations made
Popularly known as the League Cup, formerly the Capital One Cup, now referred to as the Carabao Cup; the tournament provides English teams with the opportunity to pick up a domestic trophy in February. This year’s competition is now down to the last four. We delve deeper into the action provided by the Carabao Cup’s quarter-final encounters.
Like most domestic tournaments, the Carabao Cup is played in a straight knockout format and runs over seven rounds. Premier League teams who have continental engagements are allowed to enter the competition in the third round.
We’ve enjoyed some entertaining fixtures in the Cup this term, with top teams such as Liverpool and Tottenham already bundled out before the quarter-final stage. During the last eight, football lovers were handed some more enthralling matches to savour.
Here are some glaring observations you might’ve missed from the Carabao cup quarterfinal.
1 – Bravo remains a penalty specialist
In the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, Claudio Bravo made headlines when he single-handedly helped Chile qualify for the final by stopping three consecutive penalties in the shootout. Was that a fluke? No!
Despite his struggles and poor form with Manchester City, Bravo has not lost his penalty-saving instincts. The former Barcelona goalie saved two penalties against Wolves in the EFL Cup fourth round, and he was on hand to deny Riyad Mahrez when Manchester City’s fifth-round tie with Leicester went to spot-kicks, too. That save was enough to help Manchester City progress to the semi-final after Jamie Vardy had hit the base of the post with his kick.
Once again, Bravo has proved that, while he might be a long shot from being the best goalkeeper at the Etihad, he’s a class apart when it comes to saving penalties.
2 – Arsenal v West Ham: the boring quarter-final
If you had watched the Arsenal vs West Ham game, you’d certainly be forgiven if you fell asleep midway through. The game was that boring and dull.
Arsenal offered very little going forward and West Ham offered even less. There were just nine shots on goal, with the home side having eight of those. There was only one shot on target the entire game and it was enough to hand Arsenal a 1-0 victory. A truly forgettable fixture.
3 – Resilience and the woodwork stopped the holders
Manchester United was looking to defend their Carabao Cup title when they came against a resilient Bristol City side that just wouldn’t back down. United started brightly and almost found the opener after 11 minutes but they were denied by the woodwork, with Zlatan Ibrahimovihalf-volley crashing into the upright.
Marcus Rashford didn’t have better luck eight minutes later when he smashed a 25-yard shot straight against the bar. Bristol City kept fighting and against the run of play, they got the lead via Joe Bryan in the 51st minute, then lost it seven minutes later.
Korey Smith sent fans at the Ashton Gate into ecstasy when he scored a 90th-minute goal to bundle the holders out.
4 – Bournemouth can’t keep a lead longer than 75 seconds
When Bournemouth travelled to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in their League Cup quarter-final, they knew it would only take a performance from the very top drawer to overcome the Premier League Champions. Expectedly, they were chasing the game inside the first 13 minutes.
To their credit, they kept the scoreline at 1-0 for 77 minutes. They then went one better by grabbing the equaliser at the death. Seconds later, Bournemouth switched off and allowed Alvaro Morata to restore Chelsea’s lead. The Cherries could not hold their opponents for two minutes to force the game into extra-time.