Mackems to give Chelsea the boot
Ian Brindle previews Tuesday's Capital One Cup action and reckons Sunderland could surprise Chelsea.
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Manchester City may be riding on the crest of a wave in the Barclays Premier League following their 6-3 eclipse of Arsenal but they are unlikely to be taking too much for granted as they go on their travels to Leicester City.
A run in the Capital One Cup might just be the fillip for the Foxes after a couple of rough weeks have seen them realise just one point in the Championship from their last nine.
Defeats against Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton certainly lost them valuable momentum in the league but a solid point against Burnley, where they were arguably deserving of more, could just spur on Nigel Pearson's men.
Leicester won the League Cup in 1997 and 2000 and they are unlikely to be pushovers at the King Power Stadium having produced the second best record at home in the Championship with seven victories and two draws from 10 matches.
David Nugent was once again on target at the weekend with a successful spot-kick, and the club's current leading scorer is reportedly looking to sign a new contract with the club as his current deal expires in the summer.
Manchester City's away form has been much documented in the press, and though they put six past the Gunners at the Etihad, it won't have escaped Manuel Pellegrini's attention that they shipped three at the other end.
Progression to this stage was gained through a 5-0 victory against Wigan Athletic and a 2-0 win in extra time against Newcastle United, and while the Premier League and the Champions League are clearly of more long-term objective, Pellegrini has been able to call up International players for this competition and the manager has been unafraid of rewarding good performances with subsequent appearances in the Premier League.
The teams fought out a 2-2 draw in the FA Cup when they last met here in 2011, though Manchester City were able to progress into the next stage with a 4-2 victory in the replay.
Expect to see Leicester attempt to seize the initiative early doors but Manchester City should realistically have too much class. Odds of around 1/3 make limited appeal so a small interest in Edin Dzeko for first goalscorer purposes appears to represent significantly more value.
Verdict: Leicester 0 Man City 2
Gus Poyet's passion for the beautiful game cannot be questioned and the Uruguayan could set a real marker for the season if his Sunderland side can see off Chelsea.
Poyet famously scored the winner for the latter against Real Madrid in the 1998 UEFA Super Cup Final, and though his tenure as manager at Brighton and Hove Albion ended in controversial circumstances, he has had a largely positive influence in his new role, with wins against Newcastle United and Manchester City in the League and progression into this round of the Capital One Cup thanks to a hard-fought victory against Southampton.
Poyet faces a big week with a must-win game against fellow Premier League strugglers Norwich, but his team really should have made more use with their possession against West Ham on Saturday and are unlikely to be allowed the luxury of so much time on the ball here.
Jose Mourinho guided the Blues to two League Cup successes during his first spell at Stamford Bridge and while there is a tremendous gulf between their respective positions in the Premier League table, he'll be hoping that things will be a little easier than they were during their 4-3 victory at the Stadium Of Light earlier in the month.
Two sublime pieces of skill from Eden Hazard were to ultimately prove the deciding factor between the teams though a Phil Bardsley own goal punctured the home side's hopes of a shock result despite rectifying his error by putting the ball in at the right end just two minutes later.
Chelsea made their way into the quarter-finals with a 2-0 win at the Emirates against a largely second-string Arsenal outfit in a match that took place just two days after a high octane encounter against Manchester City in the Premier League.
On paper, this is a game that Chelsea should be expected to win easily but their failure to kill off games came back to haunt them at Stoke, and were it not for some good glove work from Petr Cech at the weekend, they would not have come away with three points against a resurgent Crystal Palace.
Team selections are going to have a massive effect on how the game will ultimately play out but midweek visits up to the North East during the winter are far from ideal for a Chelsea side chasing silverware on all fronts, and the bookmakers seem to be chronically underplaying the likelihood of a shock.
Verdict: Sunderland 2 Chelsea 1