Big guns seek smooth progress to final four – League Cup Quarter-Finals Preview

An exciting midweek of League Cup quarter-final action awaits us, as eight teams eye a place in the semi-finals of the competition.

The business end of the League Cup is now upon us and all eight remaining teams will be growing in belief that they can claim the trophy.

Liverpool are chasing a first piece of silverware under Jurgen Klopp, and having produced some strong performances and results, will be confident of sealing their final-four place at Anfield.

Historic rivals, Leeds United, pose arguably the toughest challenge yet for Klopp’s Reds in the cup, though, and the Elland Road side will arrive determined to pull off a surprise victory.

While most ties appear relatively forgone conclusions on paper, as we know all too well this rarely proves the case in cup football, and four gripping contests await.


Rafa’s Newcastle Look To Pounce On Struggling Tigers

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 23, 2016: Newcastle United's manager Rafael Benitez during the Premier League match against Liverpool at Anfield. (Pic by Bradley Ormesher/Propaganda)

It’s rare that a second-tier side is ever fancied for victory when facing top-flight opposition, but Newcastle’s clash with Hull provides one such case.

Rafa Benitez’s Magpies are flying in the Championship following eight wins from their last nine games, and they blitzed their way to this stage with a 6-0 demolition of Championship rivals, Preston.

With the cup football master that is Benitez in charge, the St James’ Park faithful will be growing increasingly confident of finally ending their wait for a first major trophy since 1955.

For Hull, the competition provides a chance to escape from the struggles of their faltering Premier League campaign.

Tigers boss Mike Phelan will look to use the cup as a way of building a feel-good factor around the club, and defeat at this stage would be damaging to the Hull squad in an already tough season.

Newcastle will feel a semi-final place is there for the taking and few would be surprised if that indeed materialised on Tuesday night.


Leeds Out To Cause Anfield Upset

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 19, 2016: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp appeals for a penalty against Southampton during the FA Premier League match at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With tightly matched contests throughout, there is arguably only one tie that could see a genuine cup upset—this being Leeds’ trip to Anfield.

The Elland Road team produced an impressive result to reach the last eight, overcoming Norwich on penalties after holding on through extra-time with 10 men.

Buoyed after a Yorkshire derby win over Rotherham on Saturday, Garry Monk’s men will be right up for the game, and determined that their hard work doesn’t prove in vein as they seek to cause a shock on Merseyside.

A potential banana skin faces Liverpool, but Klopp’s in-form Reds pose a major threat to the Championship outfit, currently on a 14-game unbeaten run.

Having cruised to the quarter-finals with commanding wins over Burton, Derby and Tottenham, Klopp’s men will be confident of progressing once more.

However, Klopp may well make numerous changes to his team, and Leeds will grow in belief that they can pull off a shock if that happens.


Mourinho Continues Search for Fourth League Cup

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Monday, February 3, 2014: Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho before the Premiership match against Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Man United host the Hammers for the second time in four days on Wednesday night, as both sides reconvene after a heated 1-1 draw in the Premier League.

Enduring a stuttering league campaign, three-time League Cup winner Jose Mourinho will turn his full focus to continuing his quest for a fourth success in the competition.

Having eliminated arch-rivals Man City in the last round, the Portuguese will be feeling increasingly confident about his side’s chances of glory, and will be determined to take advantage of another home tie.

The competition has provided a much-needed ray of light in a hugely disappointing Premier League season for West Ham.

The Hammers have struggled to acclimatise to life at the Olympic Stadium, and after overcoming Chelsea in the last 16, Slaven Bilic will be desperate for his team to prolong their cup journey as they search for a first ever success.

Having earned a hard-fought point on Sunday, Bilic will feel positive about his side’s chances, especially if Mourinho rotates his team for a third game in six days.

A place in the final four is extremely attainable for both teams, which will make for another eventful night at Old Trafford.


Intriguing All-Premier League Battle At The Emirates

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 19, 2016: Southampton's manager Claude Puel during the FA Premier League match against Liverpool at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

No fixture at this stage of any competition will be a forgone conclusion, and this clash between Arsenal and Southampton is perhaps the toughest to call of the lot.

The Gunners haven’t tasted League Cup success for 23 years but have breezed through two rounds with some ruthless performances, with Arsene Wenger’s men looking like they mean business this year.

However, the Frenchman’s well-known indifferent approach to the competition will give the Saints belief that they can continue their quest for a first ever League Cup title.

Claude Puel’s men have already beaten two top-flight clubs in Crystal Palace and Sunderland, and the Saints know what it takes to win in this competition at the Emirates, having done so on their last cup visit two years back.

The Gunners will want a smooth procession into the semi-finals, as they juggle the title race and Champions League activity.

But the Saints, filled with confidence after earning a deserved victory over former manager Ronald Koeman on Sunday, will certainly fancy their chances of progressing.


Fixtures & TV Info

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 26, 2016: A view from the photographer's position during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Hull City vs. Newcastle United – KC Stadium, Tuesday 7:45pm
Winner: Newcastle

Liverpool vs. Leeds United – Anfield, Tuesday 7:45pm, Sky Sports 1
Winner: Liverpool

Arsenal vs. Southampton – Emirates Stadium, Wednesday 7:45pm
Winner: Arsenal

Manchester United vs. West Ham United – Old Trafford, Wednesday 8:00pm, Sky Sports 1
Winner: Man United

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