Manchester City’s stranglehold on the Carabao Cup came to an end with a surprise penalty shootout defeat at West Ham last year, but they once again look strong favorites to win the first major honor of the season.
City won four Carabao Cups in a row between 2018 and 2021, also lifting the Premier League title in three of those seasons. Victory tonight could set up a possible two-legged semi-final against Manchester United, in a month when they also face their city rivals in the Premier League, as well as Tottenham Hotspur. Oh, and an FA Cup tie against title rivals Arsenal.
The schedule could prove a handicap for City in the league, but they do have scope for rotation. Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland were rested for the FA Cup thrashing of Chelsea, but could see action tonight to tune them up for Saturday’s Manchester derby. The same is true of Ederson and John Stones, with the England defender in the form of his life.
Southampton’s horizons are more bleak, despite a 2-1 turnaround at Crystal Palace in the FA Cup at the weekend. The away end told new manager Nathan Jones that his ‘football is s—‘, and they are rock bottom of the league. Tonight’s tie is a long way down their list of priorities, although they will want to avoid a confidence-draining thrashing in front of their own fans. Southampton face Everton in a huge game at the weekend.
Jones was cautious about the prospect of January signing Mislav Orsic making his debut this evening: “That’s a daily thing we have to assess. Obviously, he hasn’t played much football since scoring the winner in the World Cup third/fourth play-off so we’re just going to have to assess that.”
More arrivals could be on the way, with Telegraph Sport first to report Southampton’s interest in Carlos ‘Charly’ Alcaraz, the 20-year-old Argentinian midfielder.
Full team news on the way shortly.