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League Cup draw: Spurs host Hammers; Everton off to Chelsea

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Sixteen teams are five wins from a berth in the Europa League following the fourth round draw for the League Cup.

Eleven of the 16 belong to the Premier League, leaving Leeds United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Norwich City, Bristol City, and Middlesbrough to dream of dream runs to Wembley Stadium.

[ MORE: Pulisic scores 10th BVB goal ]

There are only a trio of all-Premier League ties in the bunch, including a high-profile London clash between Spurs and West Ham.

Chelsea will host Everton, while Manchester United heads to Wales for a date with Swansea City.

All-in-all, we could have quarterfinals without a single Cinderella story.

Full draw
Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham United
Bristol City vs. Crystal Palace
Arsenal vs. Norwich City
Chelsea vs. Everton
Swansea City vs. Manchester United
Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Bournemouth vs. Middlesbrough
Leicester City vs. Leeds United

League Cup preview: Enter the giants

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Here come the big boys.

The League Cup hits the third round this week, with clubs competing in European competitions joining the fray.

Two of those clubs get trickier draws, with Man City heading to the Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool off to Leicester City.

[ MORE: Pulisic turns 19 ]

What we don’t know yet is how seriously these clubs, or really most of the Premier League clubs, are going to treat the competition.

Are Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte, and Jose Mourinho looking at the sides as deep ones capable of maintaining a run for a double or treble?

Do Arsenal, Liverpool, and Everton crave something shiny for their trophy cases? And what about clubs like Swansea and West Brom? Is making their fans happy worth the risk to their table standing?

It’s the 58th edition of the tournament, one in which Liverpool has appeared in (12) and won the most (8).

Manchester United is the reigning champion, having knocked off Southampton last season.

The League Cup has been a tourney which has produced some surprise European competitors, with Swans winning in 2013, Middlesbrough in 2004, and Birmingham City in 2011.

It also may be a chance for Americans to get runs. Bournemouth’s Emerson Hyndman‘s only bench appearance this season came in the League Cup, while Sunderland’s Lynden Gooch has been a regular sub for the Black Cats and could get a starring role at Everton.

Speaking of Everton, English-American left back Antonee Robinson is on loan at Bolton, and playing regularly at left mid for Phil Parkinson. Bolton is off to West Ham United.

Tuesday matches
Aston Villa vs. Middlesbrough
Bournemouth vs. Brighton and Hove Albion
Brentford vs. Norwich City
Bristol City vs. Stoke City
Burnley vs. Leeds United
Crystal Palace vs. Huddersfield Town
Leicester City vs. Liverpool
Reading vs. Swansea City
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Barnsley
West Ham United vs. Bolton Wanderers
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Bristol Rovers

Wednesday
Arsenal vs. Doncaster Rovers
Chelsea vs. Nottingham Forest
Everton vs. Sunderland
Manchester United vs. Burton Albion
West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester City

Who’s in form and healthy three weeks out from huge USMNT games?

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We’re a little over three weeks away from the United States’ most important World Cup qualifying games in some time.

Consider the matches versus Panama and away to Trinidad and Tobago on our minds, so expect more than a few posts as we build up to the Oct. 6 and 10 matches.

[ MORE: JPW talks with Pulisic post-UCL loss ]

In the meantime, injuries continue to pile up. Starting center back John Brooks had already been injured, and backup striker Jordan Morris is also out. Geoff Cameron may be healing quicker than expected, which is good news.

U.S. manager Bruce Arena has maintained that he wants to use players who’ve been a part of the team in qualifying and the Gold Cup, and he’s the sort of defiant character who is likely to stick with that philosophy.

But his center backs, aside from Matt Besler, really let him down in the Yanks’ one-point international break, and Morris’ injury opens the door to someone to join Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, and Bobby Wood in the strike corps (Chris Wondolowski was also called up earlier this month).

Let’s humor ourselves in spite of Arena’s stated plans, and take a look at Americans in form or back to health, here and abroad:

  • Right-sided man DeAndre Yedlin is back from his hamstring injury and made the 18 for Newcastle last week.
  • Matt Miazga has returned to Vitesse’s Starting XI, and led the back line to its first clean sheet of the season on Saturday.
  • Timmy Chandler has played every minute for Eintracht Frankfurt at right midfield/wingback during the club’s 1-1-1 start to the Bundesliga season, and scored in Cup play.
  • Lee Nguyen is back for New England, and WhoScored rates him as one of only two Americans in MLS’ Top Ten players this season. He has nine goals and eight assists.
  • The leading American scorers in MLS this season? It’s a tie between obviously call-up Altidore and inconsistent but powerful CJ Sapong with 13 a piece. Next is Wondolowski, Dempsey, and Christian Ramirez with 11 each.
  • Not angling for a call-up with this one, but while we’re here spare some positive thoughts for Julian Green. The 22-year-old World Cup goal scorer finally got a start for 2.Bundesliga side Greuther Furth, who broke a four-match losing streak with a 1-1 draw. Green went 90 minutes at left mid.
  • Terrence Boyd has subbed into every 2.Bundesliga match for Darmstadt, nabbing one assist. Lynden Gooch has also been a regular sub in Sunderland’s midfield.

So what’s an early guess at the 23 men Arena will call up next month? Again, this isn’t our 23, just an “Arena’s mind” prediction.

Goalkeepers

Unless Arena has a sudden change of heart and opts for Club Brugge’s Ethan Horvath and DC United’s Bill Hamid (or LA Galaxy man Brian Rowe because, well, LA Galaxy), it’ll be the same trio: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando.

Defenders

Nothing’s certain after Geoff Cameron, though educated guesses say Matt Besler, Graham Zusi, Omar Gonzalez, and Jorge Villafana are coming, too. Eric Lichaj didn’t get into either qualifier, but could still be in the mix. Was Arena turned off by Tim Ream or DaMarcus Beasley? More importantly, does he see anyone else who’s a clear improvement (Again, does he see them)? Completing our eight will be Chandler and Yedlin.

Midfielders

Arena called up eight earlier this month, and it seems likely he won’t change much from Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, Dax McCarty, Darlington Nagbe, and Christian Pulisic. Wild card looks to Danny Williams (if he can get some Huddersfield PT), Lee Nguyen, Cristian Roldan, or Kelyn Rowe.

Let’s face it: It wouldn’t be completely out of left field for Arena to ditch Johnson for one bad performance, and Rowe could get a chance to build on his Gold Cup. But if there’s a change, it’ll be Jermaine Jones for one last hurrah. That would likely come at the expense of McCarty.

Forwards

Jozy Altidore is due for a big, big performance having taken a terrible yellow card to miss the Honduras draw. Bobby Wood will be there, too, and maybe we’ll see them together. Clint Dempsey makes it three, which leaves a spot for… Wondolowski like last time? Old pal Gyasi Zardes? Sapong?

Pep: Man City’s attacking away win is huge

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Spirits are high in Manchester City camp after Pep Guardiola‘s corps of backs helped the team to a 4-0 away win versus Feyenoord in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

John Stones scored twice, and both Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker had assists in the win, prompting Mendy to call out Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus (who also scored in the win).

[ RECAP: Feyenoord 0-4 Man City ]

As for the architect, Pep Guardiola pointed out that the road victory is a huge step for the club after going winless away from the Etihad Stadium last campaign.

And he pointed out that folks who were critical of his splashing cash on Mendy, Walker, Bernardo Silva, Danilo, and Ederson this summer just saw why City keeps spending big.

“We have made a huge effort to buy five players to make that step forward, like all the big teams have done in Europe. It’s important to see if we can go away and play with an attacking mentality, not conceding counter-attacks.”

Most expected City to pick up a win on Wednesday, but this sort of decisive victory with so many new faces on the road staked a claim to the group.

STREAM: Liverpool visits Man City (Lineups, Link)

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Manchester City hosts Liverpool as the marquee match of the weekend kicks off the Premier League’s return on Saturday (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

[ LIVE: Man City-Liverpool ]

Liverpool returns Simon Mignolet between the sticks, with Emre Can, Jordan Henderson, and Georginio Wijnaldum patrolling the midfield.

Just one Silva starts for City, David, in an attack with Kevin De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, and Liverpool torturer Sergio Aguero.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Mendy, Danilo, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Silva (c), Aguero, Jesus. Subs: Bravo, Foden, Mangala, Sane, Gundogan, Delph, Bernardo.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Klavan, Moreno, Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum, Salah, Mane, Firmino. Subs: Karius, Lovren, Gomez, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Solanke, Sturridge.