Eight teams of varying likelihood are dreaming of the three wins that could clinch them a spot in European competition next season.
With a pair of EFL Cup quarterfinals set for Tuesday and two more scheduled Wednesday, we’ll have our semifinalist by the end of the week.
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Four Premier League mainstays go Wednesday, leaving a trio of underdogs and Liverpool squaring off on Tuesday.
Hull City vs. Newcastle United — 2:45 p.m. EDT
The Tigers are facing a relegation scrap in the Premier League, a battle that claimed Newcastle one year ago.
Things have changed.
Hull saw Steve Bruce quit in August, after the Tigers spent the summer with a serious lack of player depth. A strong start to the PL season fell victim to a poor run of form, and the Tigers are in the drop zone with 11 points.
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Saturday loss to Blackburn was its first in 10 matches. Rafa Benitez‘s Magpies lead the Championship, two points ahead of Brighton and six points clear of the playoff spots.
Ex-Palace striker Dwight Gayle is leading the league in scoring, and only played a handful of minutes at the weekend. USMNT right back DeAndre Yedlin has settled into the Magpies’ set-up well, and has played all 180 minutes of the previous EFL Cup wins.
Benitez was accused of fielding a weakened side on Saturday in anticipation of this contest, though he’s bristled at that criticism. The Magpies are chasing a long-needed trophy, regardless of their promotion chase. Look for fireworks on Tuesday.
Liverpool vs. Leeds United — 2:45 p.m. EDT
Once a clash of the titans, it will take a monumental upset for Leeds manager Garry Monk to lift his Whites into the semis.
Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho, and Adam Lallana are out for the Reds, and Roberto Firmino seems unlikely to feature as well. That said, Liverpool has a wealth of attacking options in Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum, Divock Origi, and Marko Grujic amongst others.
Arsenal vs. Southampton
Manchester United vs. West Ham United