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EFL Cup preview: Liverpool-Chelsea highlights 3rd round

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The EFL Cup returns with 15 games — featuring 14 Premier League sides — spread across Tuesday and Wednesday.

[ MORE: Sarri believes Chelsea still far from competing with Liverpool ]

Liverpool face Chelsea on Wednesday, as the premier tie of the third round will be played at Anfield. The Reds and Blues are yet to play in the PL this season, though they were the last two remaining sides with 100-percent records to start the campaign until Chelsea slipped up away to West Ham United on Sunday. Following Wednesday’s clash in the northwest of England, they’ll meet again on Saturday at Stamford Bridge for that first meeting in league play (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Following his side’s draw at the London Stadium, first-year Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri threw a bit of cold water on Blues fans’ growing hopes that a title challenge might be possible this season, claiming that this week’s opponent remains “a step forward of us at this moment.”

“We have to play against a very, very good team who have worked with the same coach for three years,” he said. “We have started to work together 40 days ago, less 10 days for the international break, so for us it is a bit early. We have to work and then, maybe, in one year we will be at the same level as Liverpool.”

[ MORE: Mourinho’s mixed messages over Man United progression ]

Elsewhere this week, Manchester City and Manchester United will each take on lower-level opposition on Tuesday, as the Red Devils will get a visit from Championship side Derby County — which will see Rams manager Frank Lampard match wits with his former manager, Jose Mourinho, for the first time — and the defending holders take a trip to League One side Oxford United.

A pair of all-London battles featuring Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal take second billing to Liverpool versus Chelsea on Wednesday. Tottenham will get their chance at revenge against Watford, the side that ended Mauricio Pochettino’s side’s perfect start to the season, at Wembley Stadium. Back in north London, the Gunners will host west London’s Brentford, one of nearly a dozen sides with dreams of winning promotion from the Championship this season.

Tuesday’s EFL Cup schedule (all games 2:45 p.m. ET, unless noted)

Manchester United vs. Derby County — 3 p.m. ET
Oxford United vs. Manchester City
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Leicester City
West Bromwich Albion vs. Crystal Palace — 3 p.m. ET
Bournemouth vs. Blackburn Rovers
Burton vs. Burnley
Millwall vs. Fulham
Blackpool vs. Queens Park Rangers
Wycombe vs. Norwich City
Preston North End vs. Middlesbrough

Wednesday’s EFL Cup schedule (all games 2:45 p.m. ET, unless noted)

Liverpool vs. Chelsea — 3 p.m. ET
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Watford
Arsenal vs. Brentford
West Ham United vs. Macclesfield Town
Nottingham Forest vs. Stoke City

Oct. 2 EFL Cup schedule

Everton vs. Southampton

Kane, Rose: Stopping slump all about Spurs’ mentality

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Tottenham Hotspur had to look — and dig — deep within themselves in order to snap their three-game losing skid (losses to Watford, Liverpool and Inter Milan) with a 2-1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, according to Harry Kane and Danny Rose.

[ MORE: Kane, Lamela propel Spurs to skid-snapping victory over Brighton ]

It wasn’t about tactics, it wasn’t about quality or transfers made (or not made); it was all about getting back to the right mentality — the one instilled by Mauricio Pochettino in guding the club to three straight top-four finishes. The level of commitment and application had dropped in recent weeks, Kane said after the game, which meant they had to get back to being themselves once again — quotes from the BBC:

“Today was about mentality, getting around the pitch, pressing high and harder and I think we did that.

“We could have put it to bed and won 3-0 or 4-0 but it’s good to get back to winning ways. The gaffer will be pleased and we can build on this.

“I didn’t see the penalty in real time, but I spoke to one of their players and they said it was handball. Sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t, but it was given and it worked well for us.”

Pochettino was delighted to get the three points, but to concede such an avoidable goal during stoppage time is clearly the part of the game which sticks out most in his mind — quotes also from the BBC:

“For everyone who watched the game, they were wondering what we were doing. The way we conceded was crazy. One minute from the end, we should be more vigilant and focused.

“To allow them in that position, it is painful to concede. We won but need to work and realize we can not concede this type of goal.”

As for the much-discussed fatigue which Spurs are said to be battling due to a summer of World Cup action, and a shallow squad combined with early-season injuries, Rose says no one at the club is buying it. Spurs’ left back even went so far as to say, “Fatigue is a bit of a myth” — quotes also from the BBC:

“We’re over the moon with the win. It was a sloppy goal at the end, and I’ll have to look at myself and my positioning.

“[On fatigue] The manager is a big believer that it’s all in your mind and he prepares us in the right way every week.

“He looks at how much we’ve done and how far we’ve run and he prepares us right for each game. Fatigue is a bit of a myth and we don’t pay a lot of attention to that.”

Well, that’s certainly one way to look at fatigue, even if it flies in the face of everything every scientist and medical professional has ever observed. That should work out perfectly for Spurs in the long run.

What did we learn from the Premier League?

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What did we learn from the eight Premier League games on Saturday?

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Week 6 gave us plenty of gifts (noticeably lopsided wins) as three big boys eased to victory, while another stumbled.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Below is a look at the key takeaways.


Mohamed Salah shaking off some rust
He scored a tap-in against Southampton on Saturday and almost scored an audacious back heel, but there are signs that Mohamed Salah is still shaking off some rust after his shoulder injury at the end of last season. The Egyptian magician looked frustrated in a more central role against Saints with Roberto Firmino switched out to the flank. Salah scored a goal when offside late on and seemed to rush a few chances where last season he was calmness personified. Salah has scored three goals in the current PL campaign but he hasn’t quite looked himself thus far with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino stepping up and delivering.

Jurgen Klopp won’t be too concerned about giving Salah a rest in the League Cup against Chelsea this week, especially with Xherdan Shaqiri impressing in a 45 minute cameo on Saturday too. Salah isn’t at his marauding best, as we pointed out following Liverpool’s win at Tottenham last week, but the fact that is the case and Liverpool have won their opening seven games of the season (in all competitions) is testament to how solid the rest of the team have been. At times last season you could accuse Liverpool of being a one man team. Not anymore. That’s a good thing, even if Salah isn’t firing on all cylinders. Liverpool changed up their system against Saints in the first half and Klopp wasn’t too happy with the way it was working so changed things back to a 4-3-3 in the second half. The team, and Salah, looked more comfortable in that system and ahead of a huge few weeks with games against Chelsea, Man City and Napoli coming up, the Reds are on fire. Even if their star man isn’t. Yet.


Wolves the real deal

They’ve played Manchester City and Manchester United this season and drawn with both 1-1. And on both occasions after those draws with the Manchester giants Wolves have felt a little hard done by that they didn’t nab all three points with David De Gea forced to make several key saves to keep Wolves at bay. Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men have brought in plenty of top class players over the summer, including Raul Jimenez, Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho, and it was the latter who curled home a beauty after Jimenez’s layoff to grab Wolves a deserved point at United.

There is a serious debate to be had that the runaway winners of England’s second-tier last season could be one of the best newly-promoted teams in history. Of course, nothing will beat Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest who won the top-flight in 1978, the season after they were promoted. Wolves aren’t going to win the title this season but they have shown they can easily be the best of the rest in the PL and finish in the top seven. The depth in their squad is impressive and so too is the understanding of what Santo wants them to do each week. They have a settled squad littered with quality and a solid 3-4-3 system which suits them. Name a better newly-promoted team in the PL era. I’ll wait.


Tottenham ease the pressure. For now…

It has been a rough few months for Tottenham Hotspur. After three-straight defeats, they needed a response at Brighton & Hove Albion. They got it. Harry Kane‘s first half penalty kick and a second half strike from Erik Lamela got Mauricio Pochettino‘s men back to winning ways after plenty of critics suddenly poked their heads over the fence to tell them what has been going wrong. Of course, a lot of the issues at Spurs are nothing to do with Pochettino and his players. With no money spent on new signings this summer and a long delay to their new stadium at White Hart Lane, chairman Daniel Levy has a lot to answer for.

On the pitch, Spurs showed plenty of grit to get by Brighton in the pouring rain on the South Coast with the bright lights and the TV cameras fixated on their every move and waiting for them to slip up and lose a fourth-straight game. They were in control throughout, with the only moment of worry when Anthony Knockaert didn’t make the most of a glorious opportunity in the second half. After a narrow defeat at Watford, a loss to red-hot Liverpool by one goal and a late collapse against Inter Milan at the San Siro, the narrative around Spurs seemed to shift from ‘they’ll get it right and prove their doubters wrong’ to ‘well, that is it they’re finished’ in a matter of days. Pochettino’s side reminded everyone not to write them off and even though Kane and Co. don’t seem anywhere near their best (we can save the tiredness debate for another week), they did what they had to do to silence their doubters. At least for another few days.


Legends return: Sir Alex Ferguson and Clint Dempsey
It was wonderful to see returns for two legendary figures on Saturday who have both been struggling with health issues over the past few years. Firstly, Sir Alex Ferguson seems to have made a superb recovery from a brain hemorrhage in May which required surgery and time in intensive care. The most successful manager in British history returned to Old Trafford on Saturday for the first time since April and Fergie received a warm welcome back and looked emotional to return to Theatre of Dreams.

And another legendary figure (okay, not quite on Fergie’s level, but still a hero) returned to the Premier League with Clint Dempsey heading back to Fulham for their draw against Watford. Dempsey, 35, retired late last month and Fulham’s all-time leading goalscorer in the Premier League was on hand to head back to Craven Cottage to see his former team.

Deuce looked as chilled as ever and Fulhamerica is still going strong.

Spurs snap skid at rain-soaked Brighton

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  • Murray concedes PK
  • Kane converts it
  • Lamela put it away
  • Spurs skid ends

Harry Kane and Erik Lamela score on a rain-soaked Amex Stadium pitch as Tottenham Hotspur put an end to its losing ways with a 2-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Goalkeeper Paulo Gazzinaga made his first start since last season’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, and came within a Anthony Knockaert stoppage time goal of another clean sheet.

Spurs move fifth with 10 points, ending their three-match losing streak in all competitions. Brighton is 13th with six points.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

Clad in their green kits, Spurs nearly went ahead in the first few moments but Toby Alderweireld‘s inspired ball bounded through the box.

Spurs had most of the ball but little danger when Kieran Trippier‘s free kick was blocked by the raised arm of Glenn Murray inside the box.

That sent Kane to the spot, and the big Englishman did not miss his chance.

A sleepy, sloppy match opened up a bit with Christian Eriksen‘s promising curler that missed far post in the 54th minute.

Lamela made it 2-0 with a pinpoint low shot in the final 15 minutes, and Brighton’s hopes for a draw were dashed on a rainy day at the Amex.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Knockaert made it 2-1 in the third minute of stoppage, and then was saved by Gazzaniga a minute later.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Watch Live: Brighton vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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Paulo Gazzaniga is between the sticks for Tottenham Hotspur as the North Londoners attempt to end a three-match losing skid on Saturday at Brighton and Hove Albion (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

It’s the 26-year-old’s first start for Spurs since blanking Crystal Palace on Nov. 5, 2017.

Dele Alli is on the bench for Spurs, as Heung-Min Son gets a start.

LINEUPS

Brighton and Hove Albion: Ryan, Montoya, Dunk, Duffy, Bong, Stephens, Propper, Bissouma, Knockaert, Murray, March. Subs: Button, Balogun, Kayal, Jahanbakhsh, Locadia, Andone.

Tottenham Hotspur: Gazzaniga, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Dier, Dembele, Eriksen, Lucas, Son, Kane. Subs: Whiteman, Aurier, Sanchez, Wanyama, Winks, Lamela, Dele.