Carabao Cup Thursday preview: Fourth round set for fascinating finale

 

Carabao Cup Thursday preview
Carabao Cup Thursday preview: Fourth round set for fascinating finale

With five of this season’s Carabao Cup quarter-finalists already confirmed, the final three spots are up for grabs tonight.

A trio of tasty ties are on the menu, with two Premier League sides looking to see off Championship opposition before Liverpool and Arsenal meet in what could be the clash of the fourth round.

Brentford vs Fulham (5.30pm, Sky Sports)

Under-pressure Scott Parker will hope Fulham’s trip to old foes Brentford can provide some respite from a tough start to life in the Premier League.

The Cottagers have lost their first three top-flight fixtures but cup triumphs over Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday have proven a welcome distraction.

And Parker (pictured above) expects what is a quickfire repeat of August’s Championship play-off final — which Fulham won 2-1 — to be a feisty encounter.

He said: “They’re obviously going to be motivated. It was a big disappointment for them to miss out after a very good season.

“They’ll have the bit between their teeth, maybe something to prove, so it is going to be a tough game.”

Considering Thomas Frank’s men have already dispatched Southampton and West Brom in this competition, the Bees will be confident of reaching the last eight.

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Full-back Rico Henry and midfielder Mathias Jensen are both expected to miss out for the hosts after sustaining minor knocks against Millwall last Saturday, while Fulham have no new injury concerns.

Aston Villa vs Stoke (7pm)

Carabao Cup runners-up Aston Villa will look to maintain a perfect start to their 2020-21 campaign when Stoke visit Villa Park.

Villa have won four from four in all competitions and recorded three clean sheets — something boss Dean Smith insists has come as no surprise.

Smith said: “I think that resilience was the key to us staying up last season.

“We only actually allowed two shots on target in our last three games and this season we’ve just continued that form — along with adding a bit more quality to the squad.”

Smith is likely to hand Bertrand Traore his second start but new loan signing Ross Barkley is cup-tied after playing and scoring for Chelsea in the previous round.

Stoke have already knocked Wolves out of the cup and the Championship side have lost just one of their six competitive fixtures so far this season.

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Potters boss Michael O’Neill boasts a wealth of experience in his ranks but is likely to give promising youngsters Josh Tymon, Tashan Oakley-Boothe and Tyrese Campbell an opportunity to impress.

Liverpool vs Arsenal (7.45pm, Sky Sports)

Only three days after meeting in the Premier League, Liverpool and Arsenal lock horns again.

Jurgen Klopp’s side showed their class in the 3-1 win over Mikel Arteta’s Gunners 3-1 on Monday night but the German is likely to field a very different team.

The Reds were ruthless in their 7-2 rout of League One Lincoln last week and goalscorers Curtis Jones, Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri are expected to start.

Considering several regulars featured as Arsenal defeated Leicester 2-0 in the third round, Arteta may not make wholesale changes to his line-up.

Eddie Nketiah is likely to spearhead the attack having already netted twice this term, while defensive duo Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Cedric Soares could both return after shaking off injuries.

Remarkably, the Londoners have not lifted the League Cup since 1993 and Liverpool’s last triumph was in 2012.

True Talk Sports

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