Carabao Cup Quarter-Finals Preview and Predictions

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Updated: Jan 10, 2023 1:04 pm

We look at all 4 quarter-final games in the Carabao Cup, featuring an exciting all-Premier League clash between Nottingham Forest and Wolves.

Check out my predictions from last week’s Premier League action here!

The Carabao Cup Quarter-Final Fixtures

Man United v Charlton
Newcastle v Leicester
Nottingham Forest v Wolves
Southampton v Man City

Man United v Charlton

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Man United have looked like a completely different side since their return to action. They have started scoring goals, keeping clean sheets, and their overall attacking play looks much better than before the World Cup.

The arrival of Erik ten Haag has completely revived Marcus Rashford’s position and career at Manchester United. He looked like he had almost given up playing for them, each performance as bad as the next, not registering goals or assists. But since ten Haag has come in, he has really hit a purple patch, ultimately resulting in him being called up for England at the World Cup.

The job ten Haag has done on a United defence that has been far too easy to bypass in recent years is nothing short of formidable. They look hard to break down, and they are quick to get the ball forward when they do win it back.

This is the kind of game I expect them to make changes in. Yes, it is the quarter-finals, and they are 3 games away from potentially winning some silverware, but they are coming up against League 1 opposition at home. A few players on the fringe of the first team could get a chance to impress here, especially with a crunch game against Man City being played in the Premier League next.

Charlton have done brilliantly to make it this far in the competition. They are the only team left not playing in the Premier League to remain in the competition, which is brilliant for lower-league football.

They have worked hard in their cup fixtures, and have rode their luck in places. They have already been involved in 3 penalty shootouts in the 4 fixtures they have played, knocking out QPR and Brighton on the way. If they do manage to hold United to penalties, Charlton have had more than enough practice this season to give themselves a chance of winning.

In League 1, Charlton sit 12th, directly in midtable, and have won their last two games. They should come into this game full of confidence, and their players will relish playing in front of a big crowd.

I do see this being one step too far for Charlton. They have already knocked out Premier League opposition, but I do not see them repeating this feat. If United make too many changes and disrupt their inform players, Charlton may have a chance. I do not see Erik ten Haag letting this one slip though.

Prediction: Man United 3 – 0 Charlton

Newcastle v Leicester

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These two sides meet each other again after facing off not too long ago in the Premier League, where Newcastle comfortably won 3-0, after a blistering start, with 2 goals inside the first 7 minutes.

Since then, Newcastle have drawn both their Premier League games 0-0, and then got knocked out of the FA Cup by League 1 opposition Sheffield Wednesday. The FA Cup result should be worrying for Eddie Howe. Whilst some changes were made, he still named a strong team, with Isak, Joelinton and Sven Botman all starting.

This could be a blessing in disguise, however. It gives them the opportunity to focus on one cup competition now, where they are 2 games away from the final. Realistically, this is their only chance of winning any silverware this season, and I expect Eddie Howe to go all out to achieve this. It should not heavily impact their Premier League season either, with the final due to be played on the 26th of February.

How long does Brendan Rodgers have left at Leicester? His side have lost their last 3 Premier League games, and are slowly drifting closer towards the bottom 3. They have been missing a few players due to injury, but their squad is still good enough to compete.

Rodgers has come out and told the press that he believes he ‘is a decent coach, but not a magician’, in reference to the spending power of Leicester compared to other teams in the league such as Newcastle, Aston Villa and West Ham. The fans will not accept this as an excuse, with Leicester selling Fofana to Chelsea in the summer for £70 million, whilst only bringing in Wout Faes themselves.

Despite these excuses, Leicester will spend in January, but they need to invest in key areas. They need to invest in a goalscorer, someone who will hit the ground running, which will come at a heavy price. But if they want to remain in the Premier League, they need to spend the money to do so.

This is a brilliant chance for either side to make a semi-final appearance and have a shot at winning some silverware, but I only see Newcastle making it to the next round in this fixture. Leicester are just too weak at the moment, and Newcastle love keeping a clean sheet. This could be another straightforward game for Newcastle against The Foxes here.

Prediction: Newcastle 3 – 0 Leicester

Nottingham Forest v Wolves

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This could be a brilliant game, which is surprising considering the league position of these two sides. Wolves sit in 19th, whilst Forest have pulled away from the relegation zone, all the way into 15th. This is a great chance for either side to make it to a semi-final, and a great chance for either side to potentially have a shot at winning the tournament.

Forest have had some great results of late. They outplayed Chelsea and managed a 1-1 draw with them, and then beat relegation rivals Southampton 1-0 away from home, scoring just their second away goal all season, and recording their first away win of the campaign.

Outside of the Premier League, it has not gone Forest’s way. They played Blackpool in the FA Cup, a team who are struggling at the bottom of the Championship. Forest made 11 changes, and it showed. They were beaten 4-1, and whilst they did create chances and could have scored more, they ultimately fell short.

This is an issue for Forest. Their fringe players are not good enough and do not step up when they are called upon. That was a chance for some of them to impress Steve Cooper and force their way into the starting 11, and they have done the opposite.

Wolves, on the other hand, are still struggling. After getting a vital, last-gasp win against Everton, they lost a tight game against Man United and then drew with Aston Villa in the Premier League. The performances have been improving each week, but the points are not getting put on the board.

They also impressed in the FA Cup, where they help Liverpool to a 2-2 draw at Anfield, and on another day they could have won it. A bizarre offside call from VAR denied Wolves the win, with fans and pundits questioning why the offside was given. Fortunately for Wolves, it did not knock them out of the competition and they have another chance to progress in the replay.

This is an intriguing Carabao Cup tie that could go either way. A result here for Forest would continue their run of form and would keep confidence high going into the next round of league fixtures. A win for Wolves would give them the exact boost of confidence, that they desperately need. I think home advantage, and the recent form of Forest, will guide them to a win here.

Prediction: Nottingham Forest 2 – 1 Wolves

Southampton v Man City

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We hear about Lampard struggling at Everton, Rodgers struggling at Leicester, and Potter struggling at Chelsea, yet most fans have stuck with their manager. The same cannot be said about Nathan Jones. After inheriting a struggling side languishing around the bottom of the table, his side has not picked up a single point under his managerial reign so far, losing all 4 of the games he has taken charge of.

To make things worse, the fans have already started to turn on him. After their loss against Nottingham Forest, the fans were audible in their lack of support for the manager, slamming the football on display.

The appointment of Jones is interesting. He has a wealth of knowledge about the Championship, having managed there previously, and does not have experience at the top level. Are the Southampton board preparing for the worst in bringing in a manager that is more likely to get them promoted if they go down, rather than a manager who can potentially keep them up?

Jones did finally taste success, in the FA Cup however, with a fortuitous 2-1 win at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace. They did create chances, and overall they were the better team, but the goals they scored were all created through mistakes from the Palace goalkeeper, Guaita, not that the fans or manager will care.

Southampton need to build on this, but they face a very difficult challenge in Man City, the Carabao Cup specialists. City have won 6 out of the last 8 league cups, which is an incredible effort. Pep knows the importance of this cup, and unlike many other managers, he does not field a weak team in these games.

City have been brilliant in their last two games. They rode their luck against Chelsea in the Premier League and came out 1-0 winners at Stamford Bridge, and then met them again in the FA Cup, comfortably winning 4-0, racing into a 3-goal lead after just 38 minutes.

City, when they turn up, are simply impossible to defend against, no matter who they put on the pitch. I do not believe that Southampton have the capabilities of keeping Man City quiet at the moment, and the more open and expressive they try to play, the easier Man City will pick them off. An easy away win here for me.

Prediction: Southampton 0 – 3 Man City


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