The third round of the League Cup normally happens early on in the season, but one of the ways the EFL were able to accommodate the silliness of a midseason World Cup and the resulting reshuffle of the European football calendar was to move it back a couple months. The first two rounds took place as usual, back in August, but this is the round that sees Premier League teams with European commitments enter the competition, so we’ve had to wait all the way until now, with all the group stages in Europe completed, to play it.
In a way, that reshuffle has placed a bit more importance on this match, especially given the way Chelsea’s season has evolved since the draw was made some eleven weeks ago. Unfortunately, that draw saddled us with just about the toughest challenge possible, as we take on all-powerful Manchester City at the Etihad.
Usually, we’d expect both teams to rotate heavily, play some youth, and have a nice glass of wine afterwards. This time, things could get a bit more dramatic.
Date / Time: Wednesday, November 9, 2022, 20.00 GMT; 3pm EST; 1:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England England, across the Atlantic Sea
Referee: Simon Hooper (on pitch); no VAR
Forecast: Chance of rain
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); none (USA); none? (India); SuperSport Premier League (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); ESPN+ (USA); none? (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Manchester City team news: City have owned this competition, winning it six (6!) times in eight years, including four on the bounce, before being knocked out in the fourth round by West Ham last season. They’ll probably want to avoid another early exit, though Pep Guardiola surely has bigger fish to fry in the grand scheme of things. He’s not been shy of rotating for such games, and despite a quite healthy and fit squad — only Kyle Walker is set to miss out, with Kalvin Phillips set to return; while João Cancelo is suspended — we can probably expect some of his non-regulars to start, along with a few academy youths.
Of course, City’s second-string is as good as most teams’ first-string, if not better, so that’ll be little solace to a listing Chelsea side high on Titanic analogies but low on just about everything else. We might need some Lucky Jack Aubrey magic instead, to continue the nautical theme. Don’t forget your Pashmina Afghans!
Since defeat in the Community Shield to Liverpool, City have lost just one (1) game all season — also to Liverpool. They have 14 wins and 4 draws against everybody else, scoring an average of six thousand goals in their wins, and about zero in their draws. A draw here won’t do of course, as a winner must be found.
Erling Haaland has been
as good as better than advertised, with 23 goals already to his name in 17 appearances in all competitions. Chelsea, as a team, have scored 27, in 19 games. The only thing that’s slowed Haaland down so far has been a minor injury and a bit of squad rotation, but he’s over the former and may not need the latter (since he’s not going to the World Cup). And then there’s the rest of City’s all-conquering squad — or at least all-but-Champions-League-conquering. HA!
View from the enemy: Bitter And Blue
Chelsea team news: Let’s see, more injuries (Jorginho the latest), more bad results (thoroughly outclassed by Arsenal at the Bridge!), more questions, more angst, more concerns: bad vibes and bad feels galore as the mood has turned rather sour in the last 7-10 days. A win here won’t undo all of that, just as the team’s problems won’t be fixed overnight. Better buckle up; we’re in for some rough seas!
Jorginho’s doubtful designation adds him to an ever-growing list that already included Reece James, Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kanté, Wesley Fofana, Kepa Arrizabalaga, and Carney Chukwuemeka. Mateo Kovačić continues to scrape by with a season-long knee problem, while Kalidou Koulibaly is just coming back from injury still. Graham Potter seems to be taking this game quite seriously, so the trio of youth who are set to travel with the team, Lewis Hall, Omari Hutchinson, and Bashir Humphreys, may only see bench duty.
This is Chelsea’s penultimate match before a six-week World Cup break that couldn’t be coming at a better time, in all seriousness. Survive and advance!
Previously: Chelsea reached the League Cup final three times in the last decade, winning once (2015, against Spurs) and losing twice (last year, to Liverpool and 2019, to Manchester City). Last time we met City in this competition was in fact that final, featuring the infamous Kepa Mutiny for which he was not made to walk the plank. Overall, we’ve lost two in a row to City after winning three in a row, including the 2019 Champions League final. HA! But this game is far from that game, so let’s instead go back to early 2016 and a fun early cup round (FA Cup in this case), when Chelsea smacked around City’s B team, 5-1.