League Cup (3rd Round)

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…

 

A general view of Villa Park, with the players' luxury 4x4 cars parked behind a fence
A general view of Villa Park, with the players’ luxury 4×4 cars parked behind a fence

 

Harry Kane of Spurs holds off Matthew Lowton of Villa
Harry Kane of Spurs holds off Matthew Lowton of Villa

 

Paulinho of Spurs scores their 2nd goal
Paulinho of Spurs scores their 2nd goal

 

Paulinho celebrates after scoring Spurs' 2nd goal
Paulinho celebrates after scoring Spurs’ 2nd goal

 

Nicklas Helenius of Villa stands with his shorts round his ankles after having them pulled down by Jan Vertonghen of Spurs
Nicklas Helenius of Villa with his shorts round his ankles after having them pulled down by Jan Vertonghen of Spurs

 

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..

 

Luis Suarez returns to play for Liverpool for the first time in 10 domestic games following his ban
Luis Suarez returns to play for Liverpool for the first time in 10 domestic games following his ban

 

Kolo Tour of Liverpool is squeezed out by a group of Man Utd defenders
Kolo Toure of Liverpool is squeezed out by a group of Man Utd defenders

 

Alexander Buttner of Man Utd goes down under a challenge from Liverpool's Martin Skrtel (L) and Kolo Toure
Alexander Buttner of Man Utd goes down in the box under a strong challenge from Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel (L) and Kolo Toure

 

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez scores the winner for Man Utd
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez scores the winner for Man Utd

 

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez scores the winner for Man Utd
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez scores the winner for Man Utd

 

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez scores the winner for Man Utd
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez scores the winner for Man Utd

 

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez celebrates after scoring the winner for Man Utd
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez celebrates after scoring the winner for Man Utd

 

Luis Suarez of Liverpool looks dejected
Luis Suarez of Liverpool looks dejected

 

Wayne Rooney of Man Utd (R) celebrates with goalscorer Chicharito
Wayne Rooney of Man Utd (R) celebrates with goalscorer Chicharito

 

Luis Suarez shows his disappointment as Liverpool crash out of the competition
Luis Suarez shows his disappointment as Liverpool crash out of the competition

 

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