League Cup third round preview: What qualifies as an upset?


The League Cup rolls into the third round later this afternoon in England. We can never be sure which Premier League teams are taking the competition seriously and which are looking at it as a hindrance, but whose pride could be at risk in this round?

The second round saw League One’s MK Dons bury Manchester United 4-0, and both Aston Villa and West Ham also lost to teams from the third-flight, Lleyton Orient and Sheffield United (respectively). League Two’s Burton Albion knocked off QPR 1-0, and Shrewsbury Town knocked off Leicester City.

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Fans have had to come to terms with the fact that they are rooting for multiple games in each round of the Cup: first that their manager wants to win and second that, given the desire, the club will win.

Knowing all that, how large would each upset loom after three rounds of play?

Unabashed shock
Chelsea vs. Bolton
Liverpool vs. Middlesbrough

Why? It’s not so much that a second-flight team knocking off a Premier League power shouldn’t or won’t happen, it’s that Jose Mourinho’s pride won’t let him be okay with a loss at home to Chelsea. As for Liverpool, it’s doubtful any loss would be forgiven considering their early-season struggles.

Pretty big deal
Sheffield Wednesday vs. Manchester City
Shrewsbury Town vs. Norwich City
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Nottingham Forest
Burton Albion vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
Fulham vs. Doncaster Rovers

Why? Some would say a Sheffield Wednesday win would qualify as shock, and perhaps it should given Manuel Pellegrini’s stated desires to win a quadruple. But losing at Hillsborough Stadium two days after playing Chelsea is not a shock. The pair of fourth-flight teams vying to knock off Championships sides are to be lauded, but wouldn’t totally startle you. A Norwich loss would be eyebrow-raising considering they were in the Premier League just last year.

Anyone’s guess
Arsenal vs. Southampton
Leyton Orient vs. Sheffield United
Cardiff City vs. Bournemouth
Sunderland vs. Stoke
Derby County vs. Reading
West Brom vs. Hull
Crystal Palace vs. Newcastle United
Swansea City vs. Everton
MK Dons vs. Bradford City