I know everyone was holding their breath over this one...
Chelsea's opponents in the third round of the League Cup are: Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge. It's unfortunate that Newcastle are a strong enough team that we can't simply run out the kids for a win, but it's also not the worst draw in the world - we should certainly be happier about it than the Newcastle fans will be! We should be expecting a pretty comfortable win at home, but Andy Carroll and company could easily make things difficult if we have an off-day. The match should be played sometime towards the end of September, and if it results in a a draw, a replay will ensue at St. James' Park, something Chelsea will wish to avoid.
A quick note on why we're entering in the third round of the competition: The Premier League sides all have a bye to the second round of the Cup, but the teams in Europe get that extended to the third. There are nineteen Premier League teams remaining in the competition, as Blackpool were knocked out by first division side Milton Keynes in the second round.
The full draw is after the jump, with Premier League teams bolded. First off, though, a poll. How deep will Chelsea go in this year's League Cup?
Brentford v Everton
Portsmouth v Leicester City
Stoke City v Fulham
Chelsea v Newcastle United
Aston Villa v Blackburn Rovers
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
Millwall v Ipswich Town
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Notts County
Burnley v Bolton Wanderers
Birmingham City v MK Dons
Liverpool v Northampton Town
Scunthorpe United v Manchester United
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City
Sunderland v West Ham United
Peterborough United v Swansea City
Wigan Athletic v Preston North End
Those are sixteen pretty good fixtures. We'll lose at least six Premier League teams from the competition after this round of fixtures, and history tells us there'll also be other casualties, which can only be a good thing. Who doesn't love a long cup run by a lower-level side? The most exciting match is clearly going to be Spurs hosting Arsenal, but Aston Villa and Blackburn reprising last year's semi-final should also be an exciting match. I'd watch out for the Burnley-Bolton game as well: Tempers are going to be extremely high at Turf Moor as Trotters boss Owen 'Judas' Coyle makes a return to his old stomping grounds. The result there isn't a certainty, either; Burnley certainly have the skill to take down Premier League competition at home.
Many people don't think too highly of the competition, but I think it's actually quite fun, and the draw's given us a few exciting matches to keep an eye on. Chelsea last won the League Cup in 2007, and were losing finalists the year afterward. Last year we were knocked out on penalties by Blackburn Rovers in the quarter-finals, so we're not trending too well as of late. Hopefully we can get past the last sixteen this year!