The League Cup, or Capital One Cup, as the new sponsors like it to be referred to, took centre stage this week, with a whole host of clubs competing in the 3rd round of the competition. The draw pitted a number of top flight sides against each other, with the pick of the ties being Liverpool’s trip to face Manchester United…a match conveniently coinciding with the return of Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, back after a 10-game ban following his biting incident towards the end of last season.
First up for me, however, was a trip down the M6 to Birmingham on Tuesday night, to see Aston Villa take on Tottenham Hotspur. Both sides fielded a fairly unrecognisable starting line-up, in a bid to give their youngsters and fringe players some match experience. It’s become a trend for the bigger clubs to play their reserves or youth team players in these early cup rounds, in a bid to protect their most valuable assets from injury until the more important latter stages of the competition. Unfortunately for Villa, Spurs’ have a significantly stronger squad in terms of it’s size and depth, and their own second string simply weren’t able to cope with the pace and ability of the North Londoners, eventually losing 4-0…
The next evening, two old rivals came together at Old Trafford, as Manchester United entertained Liverpool. It was little surprise, as the teamsheets were handed around 30 minutes before kick-off, to see Luis Suarez named in the starting line-up. The fans love someone to target their anger at in these sorts of matches, and Suarez has provided them with more than enough ammo over the past couple of years to ensure he’d be in for a tough evening.
With both teams showing mixed form in the league, the game was a tough one to call. I had to decide which end to sit, but I was keen to a half of each, knowing the game could swing either way, and at any time. I decided to cover Liverpool’s attack in the first half, choosing to sit at the far end of the ground in front of the Stretford End, close to the players’ tunnel. Fortunately, my luck was in…the first half ended goalless, but then Man Utd took the lead soon after the break, with Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez scoring what turned out to be the only goal of the game right in front of me, and celebrating there too. The passion and jubilation he exhibited when galloping towards us was a clear indication to the new manager, David Moyes, that he’d like to be considered for the team more than he currently is..