Midfielder Fernandinho was the only holdover for Manuel Pellegrini. André Villas-Boas returned three. For Manchester City and Tottenham, though, it didn’t matter, with each team using Tuesday’s League Cup action to display the frightening amount of depth they’ve accrued over the summer.
Spurs’ may have been the more impressive result, coming against fellow Premier League competition, but despite the fact it took over 45 minutes to finally break through, Tottenham cruised past Aston Villa, 4-0. Jermain Defoe scored in stoppage time of each half while Paulinho (49th minute) and Nacir Chadli (85th) provided the filling as the likes of Brad Friedel, Vlad Chiriches, Ezekiel Fryers, and Harry Kane got starts at Villa Park.
At the Etihad, recently-relegated Wigan Athletic were given a harsh reminder of Premier League life in a 5-0 loss to Manchester City. Edin Dzeko opened the scoring in the 33rd minute for the Sky Blues, who also got a second half brace from Stevan Jovetic and goals off the bench from Yaya Touré and Jesús Navas. Goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, defenders Micah Richards and Dedryk Boyata, and midfielder Marcos Lopes were all in Pellegrini’s starting XI.
It’s common for teams to rotate their squads for early League Cup matches, but the talent City and Spurs were able to field while making wholesale chances was staggering. The Citizens still had the likes of Jovetic, Dzeko, Javi Garcia, James Milner, and Joleon Lescott in their XIs. Villas-Boas had Defoe, Sandro, Lewis Holtby and Erik Lamela in his team. Given the clubs’ prodigious summer spending (and selling, in the case of Spurs), a certain amount of depth is to be expected, but when you compare today’s selections with those Arsenal, Manchester United, or Liverpool would field when making mass changes, Tottenham and City’s depth looks particularly strong.
Today, that depth helped them to League Cup routes, but over the course of the season, that depth may prove decisive in league. After their Manchester Derby win, City may have already re-established themselves as title favorites, but having so many options means they’re less likely to suffer prolonged injury or form-related slumps. There’ll be fewer chances for teams to snatch that favorite’s label, just as there’ll be less room for Arsenal slips if they hope to hold off Spurs.
SUNDERLAND TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS POST-DI CANIO
Two days ago, Sunderland dismissed Paolo Di Canio. Now they have their first win of the season, though in all fairness, they would have likely defeated Peterborough United with the controversial Italian on the sidelines. Today’s 2-0 win was more a function of their opposition than a sign the Black Cats have turned it around.
But interim coach Kevin Ball did make a couple of noteworthy changes. Lee Cattermole got his first start of the season. Instead of going with two strikers, Jozy Altidore was alone in his return to the lineup. The team ditched the 4-2-4 for a more conventional 4-2-3-1 formation. Carlos Cuellar was also back in the team as the Black Cats adopted a much more conventional approach.
Those changes saw them up after 31 minutes when Emanuele Giaccherini scored his second goal in a Sunderland shirt. When Valentin Roberge doubled the lead in the second half, the Black Cats were assured of seeing off their third-tier opposition.
Now comes the hard part: Visits from Liverpool and Manchester United, after which the team will likely have a new boss. Whether that’s Gus Poyet, Roberto Di Matteo, or somebody else, the important thing is Sunderland’s moved on. Today’s win starts to put the Di Canio days behind them.
- West Ham United 3-2 Cardiff City: Ricardo Vaz Te’s 87th winner sees off the Bluebirds.
- Burnley 2-1 Nottingham Forest: Daniel Ings scores twice to sent the Clarets through.
- Southampton 2-0 Bristol City: Gaston Ramirez’s 14th minute goal ends up being the game-winner.
- Swindon Town 0-2 Chelsea: Fernando Torres, Ramires help Blues to second-straight win.
- Watford 2-3 Norwich City: Canaries need extra time, two Gary Hooper goals to reverse a 2-0 deficit.
- Hull City 1-0 Huddersfield Town: Nick Proschwitz’s 59th winner helps Steve Bruce avoid the upset.
- Leicester City 2-1 Derby County: Antony Knockaert and Daniel Drinkwater turn around Chris Martin’s 42nd minute opener.
- Fulham 2-1 Everton: Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Bent hand Roberto Martinez his first Everton loss.