On Tuesday night, Premier League big guns Arsenal and Manchester City made it through to the last-four of the EFL Cup. Here is how they did:
Both teams went into this clash with other priorities and the game reflected that lack of enthusiasm for this competition. Barely anything happened before Danny Welbeck tapped in from a couple of yards out on 42 minutes.
In truth, that is as good as it got for the game, as West Ham barely threatened David Ospina’s goal, while Arsenal were happy to sit back on their lead.
One issue may affect the Gunners Premier League campaign though is that France international Olivier Giroud pulled off with what looked like a hamstring injury in the second half.
The experienced forward is not currently first choice up front. However, he has proven to be effective from the bench in the past.
As is now the custom both teams fielded rotated teams at the start of this contest. The Premier League runaway leaders drew first blood on 26 minutes. A superb counter-attack saw Ilkay Gundogan pick out Bernardo Silva and the summer recruit poked the ball past Ben Hamer in the home goal.
Both sides had their chances to add to the scoreline. However, the Foxes equaliser did not come until the seventh minute of second-half stoppage-time. It was a controversial one too.
Demarai Gray ran at City full-back Kyle Walker, who attempted to tackle the winger in the penalty area, only for Gray to fall over the challenge. Referee Bobby Madley pointed to the spot and awarded the Foxes a spot-kick.
However, replays showed that little to no contact was made between the full-back and Gray. The FA may look into the incident after recent charges of Manuel Lanzini and Oumar Niasse for ‘deception of a referee’.
England striker Jamie Vardy stepped-up and scored with the spot-kick to send the game into extra-time. Neither team could find a winner in extra time, so the clash went to penalty kicks.
City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo produced the shootout-winning save from Riyad Mahrez to send the league leaders through to the last four of the competition. The Citizens are favourites to lift the trophy.
Wednesday night’s ties
So Arsenal and Manchester City have booked their place in the semi-finals of the competition. On Wednesday night, we will find out who will be the last two teams in semi-finals of the competition.
Chelsea host Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge, with the hosts looking to build on a two-game winning run in the Premier League. Antonio Conte is likely to rotate his starting line-up and give a chance to some fringe and young players.
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe is also likely to make changes to his Cherries team. A weekend trip to Manchester City means that the team from the south coast may field a very unfamiliar starting line-up in south west London.
The other quarter-final tie sees Championship side Bristol City host Manchester United at Ashton Gate. The home side are flying high in the second tier, currently third in the table and fighting for promotion under highly-rated boss Lee Johnson.
The visit of United will be a bigger challenge than they have faced so far this season. United boss Jose Mourinho has a strong squad and is likely to rest some key players with a busy festive schedule in the next few weeks.
Who will win this season’s EFL Cup?