This week, the last eight of the Carabao Cup was decided. Many results were as expected but there were a few surprises, as is English tournament tradition.
At the start of the week, Crystal Palace, rooted to the bottom of the Premier League, were thrashed 4-1 away to championship outfit Bristol City. Manchester United eased past Swansea with a Jesse Lingard brace, and a second-half flurry from Bournemouth ensured their qualification against Middlesbrough.
Leeds United were knocked out by Leicester City, and a surprising late double by 18-year-old Eddie Nketiah secured the disqualification of a spirited Norwich side, who took the lead early on through Josh Murphy. Manchester City made hard work of Wolves, who defended flawlessly throughout the game, taking the game to penalties. A Claudio Bravo masterclass secured his team’s qualification.
On Wednesday, Chelsea knocked out a manager-less Everton, whose woes continue to pile. In what was the most entertaining game of the round, though, West Ham came back from two goals behind to emphatically beat Tottenham 3-2 at Wembley, following two goals from Andre Ayew and a late header from Angelo Ogbonna.
But it seems the English League Cup is never able to escape controversy. This year once again, accusations of a rigged draw are rife as two-hour-long delay interrupted the scheduled 4pm Twitter livestream, the outcome of which resulted in the Premier League’s top four teams avoiding each other.
So, the draw. Manchester United drew Bristol City. Manchester City were drawn away to Leicester, and Arsenal and Chelsea secured home ties against West Ham and Bournemouth respectively. The draw itself, when it finally took place a whooping 105 minutes late, was pre-recorded and edited.
Questions were raised over whether the draw had been compromised – leading to potential Manchester and London derbies in the semi-finals in order to increase dwindling viewing figures. After all, it’s common thought that the League Cup is regarded to be the least desirable trophy for top clubs.
Now, the EFL is demanding an inquest into what just went wrong.
There was also a public apology: “The EFL would like to apologise for a number of third party technical issues that affected coverage of today’s previously advertised Carabao Cup round five live draw at Twitter HQ.”
It’s not the first time that the draw has been a complete shambles since Carabao secured the cup’s sponsorship rights. Earlier this season, clubs and fans were left confused and incensed after the second-round draw’s livestream also failed. It was held in Carabao’s home country Thailand, and graphics even showed the incorrect fixtures.
Teams were unsure as to whether they would be home or away, and Charlton Athletic were drawn twice, to both Exeter and Cheltenham. Some teams such as Brentford saw the lighter side:
Journalists had their say too. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t have many good things to say.
At least the Carabao Cup organisers haven't left themselves open to suggestions the draw was rigged.
— Ian Doyle (@IanDoyleSport) October 26, 2017
One thing’s for sure: As long as these controversial events continue to overshadow the League Cup, it will continue to be shunned by fans and clubs alike – Something the Football League cannot afford in what really is an historic trophy.