League Cup Third Round Preview Including Manchester United vs Liverpool

This week marks the third round of the Football Association League Cup, better known these days as the Capital One Cup. But before we get to the preview, here’s some history regarding how the tournament first started.

In the late 1950’s, the competition came to mind by a gentleman named Alan Hardaker, who happened to be the secretary of the governing Football League. From 1957 to 1979, Hardaker was considered to be somewhat of a “know it all” when it came to football.  The association was having a hard time generating revenue; the revenue from ticket sales was not cutting it. At the same time, the existing F.A. Cup was not seen as a lucrative form of financial gain for smaller clubs.

With the advent of floodlights at many English grounds in the late 1950’s, the League Cup was introduced in the 1960-61 season as a way to generate revenue through a mid-week competition that would be played in the winter.

Initially many of the top teams declined to participate, so when the incentive of guaranteed European qualification was offered to the winner of the tournament from 1966 on, teams suddenly took more interest in the competition. The winner would automatically qualify for the UEFA Cup, which is now the UEFA Europa League.

In 1967, the final garnered close to 100,000 screaming supporters at Wembley Stadium. The large attendance was enough to seal the League Cup as a permanent fixture at the national stadium. The F.A. Cup finally had some competition.

In subsequent years, sponsorship deals would emerge to help financially facilitate the cup competition. Sponsors have included various milk companies, a camera company, insurance company, lager brewery and soft drink company have added their name to the competition. For many clubs who do not have the opportunity to play in the Premier League or qualify for European competitions, the League Cup is a platform for them to attain some popularity and a financial boost to their finances. So as the third round of the League Cup kicks off again this week, let’s try and take the competition a bit more seriously and realize that, after all, that there is still a trophy to be won.

This week’s prominent fixtures

Manchester City v Wigan Athletic (Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2:45pm ET)

Manchester City will be looking to build upon their performance at the weekend in their derby match win over cross-town rivals Manchester United. Wigan Athletic will be looking to show why they deserve to be back in the Premier League with a hopeful showing. The club sits in 11th in the Championship.  In their last six encounters, City have won five and lost once against last year’s F.A. Cup winners. If last year’s cup final is anything to go by, this should be an interesting reunion of sorts.

Sunderland v Peterborough United (Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2:45pm ET)

Well, with all the drama happening on Tyneside and the quick dismissal of Paolo Di Canio, Sunderland will be looking to restore order rather quickly and to make sure the ship doesn’t sink at the Stadium of light. Meanwhile, the Posh under the guise of Sir Alex Ferguson’s son Darren will be hoping to find a continuation of wins after their victory over MK Dons at London Road Stadium this past weekend.  In their past four encounters, Sunderland have won all four with three of them containing a clean sheet.  The Posh sit second in League One and will look to build upon Sunderland’s rocky state. Might we see some “Fergie” time?

Aston Villa v Tottenham (Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2:45pm ET)
(For viewers in the United States, the match will be shown on tape delay at 4:45pm ET on beIN SPORT) 

Ahead of this cup match, Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has shared his discontent following their matches last Thursday (Europa League), Sunday (Premier League) and now this match against Villa (Tuesday). Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert and his stalwarts will be looking to build on their 1-0 victory at Carrow Road against Norwich this past weekend. Tottenham have won the last five of the six encounters between the clubs, one of which ended in a 1-1 draw. Villa Park can be a formidable ground and Lambert will be hoping the home support will give his side the edge in this one.

Hull City v Huddersfield (Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2:45pm ET)

Steve Bruce will be looking to build upon his team’s impressive performance against Newcastle in their 2-3 win. It will be a reunion for Bruce as he will be returning to Huddersfield Town. He took charge of the club back in 1999 and in 2000. Bruce stated he will be looking to rotate the current squad to give more of a priority to the Premier League. He said, “Well we’re in the cup competition, and of course it’s a priority, but it’s not a priority for us.”

Hull will be hoping to stay injury free as it was confirmed that defender James Chester was taken off at Newcastle, which might see him be out of the squad for a couple of weeks. Huddersfield’s best showing in the competition was in a semi-final defeat in 1968.

Huddersfield manager Mark Robins has steered his current squad to three wins and three draws from their past eight fixtures.

Head to head in their past six encounters, Hull has won four times, drawn once including a loss. They currently sit ninth in the Championship. It will be a Yorkshire Derby affair.

Manchester United v Liverpool (Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2:45pm ET)
(For viewers in the United States, the match will be shown live at 2:45pm ET on beIN SPORT) 

David Moyes and the Red Devils will be hoping to put the past behind them with another “derby” encounter with Liverpool. Both clubs suffered a defeat at the weekend as Pochettino’s Southampton took a 0-1 victory by way of Dejan Lovren’s headed goal just eight minutes into the second half. Liverpool suffered their first defeat of the season.

Most of the attention in this match will be on the expected return of Luis Suarez to action after serving his suspension. Meanwhile, United supporters will be hoping that Robin van Persie recovers in time to play in this vital match for Manchester United.

Other League Cup fixtures this week.

Tuesday Sept 24, 2013

West Ham United v Cardiff City
Burnley v Nottingham Forest
Southampton v Bristol City
Swindon Town v Chelsea (for viewers in the US, live on beIN SPORT at 2:45pm ET)
Watford v Norwich
Leicester City v Derby County
Fulham v Everton

Wednesday Sept 25, 2013

Newcastle United v Leeds United
Tranmere Rovers v Stoke City
Birmingham City v Swansea City
West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal

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