Hello world!

So the Carabao Cup’s fourth round dawns, with five fixtures being played tonight and a further three tomorrow. On a purely numerical basis, this is the week’s big night of cup action, even if tomorrow’s three games (Liverpool v Arsenal, Chelsea v Manchester United and Aston Villa v Wolverhampton, since you ask) all have just a little bit more stardust twinkling upon them than any of tonight’s five. Still, we must all play the hands we are dealt, and these are our aces this evening (all 7.45pm BMT kick-offs):

Burton Albion v Leicester City
Burton’s Nigel Clough thinks/hopes that this competition might not be Leicester’s toppermost priority. “It is a competition that they could win, but they are challenging for the top four as well so there will be different thoughts going through his head,” he said of his opposite number, Brendan Rodgers. Leicester’s Danny Ward is expecting a tough old night. “It will be another tough game, they will be right at it,” he says. “I’ve played there before, it’s a small, intimidating ground and they will make it difficult for us, but we know what job we’ve got to go there and do and hopefully we’ll produce another good performance.”

Crawley Town v Colchester United
Crawley have not won a game since they last played Colchester on 12 October. “I think we will react, I believe in the squad and in what we are doing,” the manager, Gabriele Cioffi, says. “Sometimes a fall is healthy and I think it happened in the right moment.” Meanwhile the Colchester midfieler Ben Stevenson is feeling optimistic. “We are hoping that we can put on a show,” he says. “We are all really looking forward to it for the travelling fans and looking to get through.”

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Everton v Watford
Everton have to cope with the knock-on effects of the weekend defeat at Brighton, in which they sustained damage to their morale and Bernard sustained a knee ligament injury. “The next game is a different competition and if we have a goal, an ambition to go until the end, to the final, we have to win,” says Marco Silva. Meanwhile Quique Sanchez Flores says success in the cup will not impact on Watford’s miserable league form. “What we want is a win,” he says. “To win is always important, but what we realise is when we won in Swansea, it didn’t affect what happened in the league because we didn’t win the next one. It’s different competitions, different line-ups, different goals. So to win tomorrow is important again but it’s nothing concerned about what is happening in the league. It is a completely different scenario.”

Manchester City v Southampton
Pep Guardiola insists that Southampton are not completely rubbish despite their 0-9 home thrashing by Leicester last Friday. “They are incredible professionals,” said the Spaniard. “The manager will be sad for a moment, for one night, but after that they have to move forward. They will try to do their best.” Indeed Ilkay Gundogan says tonight’s game “is not going to be easy, especially for their last result”. Meanwhile Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg insist the Saints are determined to improve. “We never want to be in this position again or anywhere near it. We have to get back up and make sure this never happens again,” he says. “We can put quotes out, apologise and say something, but the only thing that’s the real deal now is actions. Actions that are nowhere near what they were against Leicester. We can never show our faces like this again.”

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Oxford United v Sunderland
Oxford must do without the full-back Chris Cadden and midfielder Cameron Brannagan, who both picked up injuries during Saturday’s 3-0 League One win over Rochdale. Sunderland also lost at the weekend, 1-0 at Shrewsbury. “This is a different challenge against an in-form team, who are scoring goals,” says their assistant manager, Steve Parkin. “This is a great opportunity for our lads to progress in a fantastic competition.”

So, that’s what’s on our menu. Let’s do this!



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