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The Carabao Cup is set to resume this week, with quarter-final ties scheduled to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday evening.
Sunderland, the only EFL club left in the competition, head to London to face Arsenal, while Tottenham host West Ham, Brentford take on Chelsea and Leicester are away at Liverpool.
The PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points ahead of the four ties.
Concentrate on the league?
— Carabao Cup (@Carabao_Cup) November 3, 2021
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel have both questioned the current hectic schedule as Covid-19 outbreaks sweep across clubs in both the top flight and EFL – with six Premier League games having been postponed over the weekend. Klopp has called for the Carabao Cup semi-finals to be made one-off ties to help fit in any rearranged games – which could yet include some of the last-eight fixtures if more positive cases emerge.
Black Cats flying EFL flag
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) December 20, 2021
While Premier League clubs may have different priorities, the prospect of an extended Carabao Cup run is a welcome addition for those outside the top flight. Sky Bet League One Sunderland got past Championship side QPR on penalties to progress to the last eight and Lee Johnson’s side will be looking to cause another shock at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night – no matter what team Mikel Arteta may decide to field or is able to if any coronavirus concerns emerge.
Rested Hammers hope to blunt Spurs
We can confirm that Saturday’s fixture against Norwich City on Saturday at London Stadium will not go ahead as planned after the Premier League granted a request from Norwich to postpone the fixture.
— West Ham United (@WestHam) December 16, 2021
West Ham ended Manchester City’s Carabao Cup dominance with a 5-3 penalty shoot-out win over the holders at the London Stadium in the last round. David Moyes’ men have dropped off the pace in recent weeks, with defeat at Arsenal a third in six league games. Saturday’s match against Norwich was called off because of the Canaries’ coronavirus worries, so the Irons squad should come into Wednesday night’s tie against Tottenham less fatigued – while Antonio Conte’s men played out an action-packed 2-2 draw against Liverpool on Sunday.
Can Bees sting depleted Blues?
Chelsea boss Tuchel fears rising Covid cases in the squad could further deplete his options heading into the hectic festive schedule. The Blues were only able to put four outfield players on the bench for Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Wolves, having seen their appeal to postpone the Premier League game turned down. Brentford have endured their own coronavirus issues, with star striker Ivan Toney among those recently sidelined. While Bees head coach Thomas Frank had called for the whole of the weekend top-flight schedule to be postponed, the fact they did not have to play and Chelsea did could yet turn out in their favour for hopes of progress to the semi-finals.
Rodgers planning to outfox his old club
Set for Carabao Cup Quarter-Final action at Anfield next 👊 pic.twitter.com/EsRVPShT7t
— Leicester City (@LCFC) December 20, 2021
Leicester were another side to have their league game postponed, with Sunday’s trip to Everton called off as well as the home fixture against Spurs on December 16. The Foxes had already seen their European ambitions dented after sending a depleted squad out to Napoli. The break since the 4-0 win over Newcastle should have bought Brendan Rodgers some time to take stock as he looks to mastermind a winning return to Anfield. Given the continued fitness concerns within his own squad, Klopp is again likely to utilise some of Liverpool’s youngsters – providing they all test negative.