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Friday, January 27, 2023

League Cup: predictions and previews for the quarter-finals

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Manchester United v Charlton, Tuesday 8pm

Manchester United signed Jack Butland on loan from Crystal Palace last week and he could be thrust straight into the starting XI to give David de Gea a break. Erik ten Hag is without Donny van de Beek, Jadon Sancho and Axel Tuanzebe. Van de Beek would almost certainly have started because Bruno Fernandes has to serve a one-match ban after he received his second booking in the competition against Burnley last month.

Christian Eriksen is an able deputy, with Fred likely come into the team alongside Casemiro at the base of the midfield. With the Manchester Derby looming on Saturday, Ten Hag may decide to ring the changes, with Marcus Rashford, Antony, Lisandro Martínez and Luke Shaw likely to be on the bench as United seek to extend their winning run to eight matches in all competitions. Manchester United have not won this competition since 2017 and Ten Hag will see this as a realistic chance to win the club’s first silverware since the José Mourinho era.

Charlton, meanwhile, are trying to reach the semi-finals for the first time. The League One side have turned a corner in recent weeks, picking up back-to-back wins over Portsmouth and Lincoln after a run of one win in 10 matches. They are nine points clear of the relegation zone coming into this tie, their first trip to Old Trafford since 2007.

Dean Holden has made an immediate impact following his appointment as manager last month and he will be out to claim a huge scalp on Tuesday night. However, he will have to do so without goalkeeper Joseph Wollacott, who is absent owing to a finger injury. Ashley Maynard-Brewer is a doubt due to concussion protocol, having missed Saturday’s win over Lincoln, so Craig MacGillivray could start between the sticks. Chuks Aneke is a doubt owing to a hamstring issue, with Diallang Jaiyesimi and Mandela Egbo missing out entirely. Fortunately for Holden, Sean Clare is available following a ban. Prediction: Manchester United to progress

Newcastle v Leicester City, Tuesday 8pm

Newcastle were unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup on Saturday evening as Eddie Howe named a much-changed XI and they were beaten 2-1 by League One side Sheffield Wednesday. Surprisingly, they have now failed to win any of their last three matches. Howe has called on his team to be “more clinical” after they racked up 22 shots against Wednesday while only scoring one goal. With no European football or FA Cup games to play, Newcastle will be determined to progress in this competition and end their 54-year wait for some silverware. They beat Leicester 3-0 at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day so will be very confident of reaching the semi-finals.

Club-record signing Alexander Isak made his first competitive appearance since September at Hillsborough, though he only managed 45 minutes before his withdrawal and is unlikely to start against Leicester. Newcastle’s injury list has shortened significantly in recent weeks, with Emil Krafth, Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Targett the only confirmed absentees, though Allan Saint-Maximin is a doubt due to illness. Howe should go with a much stronger XI here, with Nick Pope, Bruno Guimarães and Kieran Trippier among those expected to return.

While Newcastle have a manageable injury list, the same cannot be said of Leicester, who could be without up to eight players for their trip to St James’ Park. James Maddison is nearing a return but the quarter-final may come too soon for him. Central midfielders Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Boubakary Soumaré have joined their injury list, leaving Brendan Rodgers short of options in the middle of the park.

Leicester have been on a poor run recently, losing their last three league games, but their win over Gillingham in the FA Cup at the weekend will give them a morale boost before their trip to Tyneside. Prediction: Newcastle to progress

Kieran Trippier applauds Newcastle’s fans after FA Cup defeat at Sheffield Wednesday
Newcastle were knocked out of the FA Cup by Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Nottingham Forest v Wolves, Wednesday 7.45pm

Nottingham Forest suffered a shock 4-1 defeat to Blackpool in the FA Cup on Saturday, which was particularly surprising given their strong recent form. They went into that tie on the back of an impressive draw against Chelsea and a win at Southampton. Since their 5-0 defeat at Arsenal in October, Forest have been in solid form, losing only one of their seven matches before their trip to Blackpool.

Crucially, they are unbeaten in six at home, and they have already claimed creditable results against Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea at the City Ground this season. Steve Cooper hit out at his squad following their heavy loss on Saturday, and he still has a number of injury issues for their match against Wolves on Wednesday. Jesse Lingard, Moussa Niakhaté, Taiwo Awoniyi, Giulian Biancone, Omar Richards, Cheikhou Kouyaté and Neco Williams all miss out this week.

Like Cooper, Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui was left reeling after his side’s FA Cup outing at the weekend, with Wolves requiring a replay to try and take a place in the fourth round due to a dubious offside call. Lopetegui has made a solid start to life at Molineux, with two wins, two draws and one defeat in his first five games in charge.

Lopetegui is hoping to have Daniel Podence available for selection after he missed the draw at Anfield on Saturday. Podence was forced off at the break against Aston Villa last week due to injury and will be assessed. However, the Wolves manager is still without Sasa Kalajdzic, Pedro Neto, Chiquinho and Boubacar Traoré. January arrival Matheus Cunha is pushing for his first start after coming off the bench against both Villa and Liverpool. Prediction: Nottingham Forest to progress

Southampton v Manchester City, Wednesday 8pm

Southampton have made a poor start under Nathan Jones following his appointment in November, but they did secure a vital win in the FA Cup on Saturday, beating Premier League opposition Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park to book their place in the fourth round. Southampton’s last three wins have come in cup competitions, with their league form extremely disappointing. A run of one win in 13 league games has seen Saints sink to the bottom of the table, with fans already doubting Jones.

The manager needs to build momentum for the second half of the campaign, but he is facing the toughest possible quarter-final. Southampton will be without young centre-back Armel Bella-Kotchap, who is out with a knee injury. Stuart Armstrong is also set to miss out, with Juan Larios, Theo Walcott and Alex McCarthy also absent. Tino Livramento is making good progress following a knee injury, but the game against City comes too soon for the right-back.

City beat Chelsea twice in the space of four days to stay hot on the heels of Premier League leaders Arsenal and book their place in the next round of the FA Cup. Their attention now turns to the League Cup, without doubt Pep Guardiola’s most successful cup competition. He won it four years straight in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, but will be wary of Southampton. City have won only two of their last four games at St Mary’s, a subpar record by their lofty standards.

Guardiola will be without the services of centre-back Rúben Dias, who picked up a hamstring injury while playing for Portugal at the World Cup – he’s also likely to miss the Manchester Derby on Saturday. That said, City have plenty in reserve and should book their place in the semi-finals. Prediction: Manchester City to progress

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