Talking points ahead of this week’s Carabao Cup second-round fixtures
The 2020-21 Carabao Cup will be whittled down to 32 teams this week as the second round takes place across Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding the action that lies ahead.
Harrogate on a high
It has been a remarkable couple of months for Harrogate, who in early August secured promotion to the English Football League for the first time in their history with play-off final victory over Notts County at Wembley. They opened their League Two campaign on Saturday by thrashing Southend 4-0 away, and are now preparing for a trip in this competition to Premier League West Brom on Wednesday, earned with a win on penalties at Tranmere in round one. Simon Weaver’s men will aim to shock an Albion outfit in need of a positive result following Sunday’s 3-0 home loss to Leicester.
Salford, the club who had their own EFL breakthrough the season before Harrogate, are another fourth-tier side visiting top-flight opposition on Wednesday, with the Ammies travelling to north-west neighbours Everton. Certainly it will be something special if Graham Alexander’s team – winners on penalties at home against Championship Rotherham in the first round – can create an upset against Carlo Ancelotti’s Toffees, three days on from the Premier League club’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham.
Big guns lie in wait
With the draw for the third round having already been made, Bradford and Lincoln, of League Two and League One respectively, meet on Tuesday knowing it is for the right to host Liverpool, and the winners of Leyton Orient against Plymouth will go on to entertain Spurs. A trip to holders Manchester City is the prize as Bournemouth face Crystal Palace, and it is Chelsea away for Middlesbrough or Barnsley and Manchester United at home for Reading or Luton.
Aston Villa travel to League One Burton on Tuesday and the Premier League outfit, last year’s beaten finalists, will be mindful of the clubs’ last meeting. That was at the same stage of the competition, at the same venue, in 2018-19 when the Brewers won 1-0, part of a remarkable run that took them all the way to the semi-finals.
Bowyer faces Hammers
Tuesday promises to be an interesting evening for Lee Bowyer, with the Charlton boss, whose fledgling managerial career has already included a promotion and a relegation, taking his team to the London Stadium to face his old club West Ham. Bowyer had two spells with them as a player, in 2003 and then from the summer of 2006 to January 2009.