The quarter-finals of the Carabao cup saw a number of close and entertaining encounters as 3 top Premier League sides managed to progress to the next stage. Chelsea will be seeking revenge in the semis when they face Tottenham, who beat the blues 3-1 in the league earlier this season. Whilst this one could go either way, Man City are clear favourites in their match against Burton as a place in the final inevitably looks to be on the cards for the Manchester club.
It was Tottenham, however, who were keen to take some revenge going into their quarter-final encounter with fierce North London rivals Arsenal. As you’ll probably remember, the gunners inflicted a 4-2 defeat on Spurs at the Emirates earlier this year, a real signal of intent and sign that Arsenal could be getting back to their best. However, it was their rivals who were victorious this time with Son and Alli securing a 0-2 win. A cup quarter-final is always going to be tense affair and this being one of the greatest rivalries in English football only adds to the occasion. This will make Mauricio Pochettino all the more pleased to have secured the win. Although the Carabao Cup isn’t the most desirable tournament, reaching the semi-final provides the Argentinian manager an opportunity to get the ball rolling on the trophy front. Having been with Spurs for a reasonably long time now, Pochettino will need to win something fairly soon to be considered a real success. A minor trophy like this particular cup could be enough to silence any doubters, at least until he can win something more prestigious.
Tottenham’s semi-final opponents, Chelsea, reached this stage by beating Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth 1-0 after Hazard scored the winner late on. As already mentioned, Chelsea will be looking to get one up on Spurs after being embarrassed by them earlier this season. Stealing their place in a cup final at Wembley, considering how desperate Tottenham are to win a long-awaited trophy, would certainly be an effective way for Chelsea to do this. Winning a cup provides just as great an opportunity for Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri as it does for Pochettino. Only being about halfway through his first season with his new club, Sarri will be eager to avoid a long trophyless period like the one the Tottenham boss is still struggling to escape after moving club. Winning at least one cup as well as qualifying for the Champions League after having to settle for Europa League football for a season, would be considered a success for Sarri and would certainly get the fans truly on his side.
Despite looking like one of the teams most at risk of being knocked out at the quarter-final stage, Manchester City now have to be odds-on favourites to reach the final, if not win the competition. If it hadn’t been for their poor display in the penalty shootout, it could have been Bournemouth facing Burton Albion for the chance to play at Wembley. It might be slightly unfair to completely cast aside a Burton team who have done extremely well to get to this stage. Beating Middlesbrough, a club who are going reasonably well in the league above, is clearly a huge achievement, but travelling to and beating a Championship side is very different to doing the same against the Premier League champions. Draws in various competitions like this one and the Champions League have been very favourable for Manchester City. Everything looks to be working out well for Guardiola and his players, who look to be having another emphatic season which could include multiple trophy successes.
Whilst we will never truly know until the semi-finals have been played, this year’s Carabao Cup final looks like being an all Premier League affair between two of English football’s elite sides. Manchester City will not want to underestimate anyone, certainly not a lower league side desperate to cause a huge upset in one of their biggest games for years. This cup run has been a dream for Burton fans but can they pull off a huge surprise and go all the way?