The third round of the Carabao Cup is sure to throw up some unexpected twists as clubs and players juggle the novel tasks of keeping up momentum and keeping players fresh before a World Cup-enforced winter break.
One of Manchester City or Chelsea will be heading out at this early stage as they come up against each other while numerous all-Premier League clashes ensure there’ll be some sizeable casualties.
At the other end of the spectrum, League Two sides Newport County, Crawley Town, Stevenage and Gillingham will all be dreaming of pulling off shock upsets to advance into the fourth round of the competition.
Sportsmail takes a look at several things worth keeping an eye on ahead of the third round ties.
Chelsea or Manchester City will be heading for an early exit in the Carabao Cup third round
ARE THE HAMMERS NAILED ON FOR A CUPSET?
This third round tie has potential banana skin written all over it with David Moyes’ West Ham struggling to produce consistent form this season while Blackburn are flying high in the Championship.
Rovers currently sit second and have won five of their last six league fixtures as they bid to push for promotion back to the top-flight this season.
The Hammers, however, have won just one of their last five in the Premier League and the only positive sign of the current campaign has come in the Europa Conference League.
The downside for Blackburn is given West Ham’s fortunes, they’ll most likely name a strong side in hope of building some confidence.
In-form Blackburn Rovers could prove to be a potential banana skin tie for West Ham United
IS THIS NEWCASTLE’S BIG CHANCE OF SILVERWARE?
Newcastle are fast-becoming a powerhouse under boss Eddie Howe and the club’s new ownership, though thoughts of a Premier League title-tilt appear just a touch premature for now.
The Magpies could easily see the Carabao Cup as a great chance to win some silverware and stamp their mark as an emerging force.
Newcastle are currently unbeaten in their last nine fixtures and showing no signs of slowing down with most of their squad in top form.
It will not be an easy third round tie however, with Crystal Palace always seeming to fare well in cup competitions, and Howe’s resolve to delive on the trophy front will be seriously tested.
Newcastle United could see the Carabao Cup as an opportunity to win silverware this season
CAN MANCHESTER UNITED GET REVENGE ON ASTON VILLA?
It’s a quick rematch between these two sides and Manchester United will no doubt be determined to get revenge over Aston Villa after suffering a disappointing 3-1 defeat at the weekend.
Unai Emery enjoyed his return to England with that impressive victory over Erik ten Hag’s side at Villa Park in the Premier League, and the result will have stung the Dutchman’s charges after a recent upturn in fortune.
An immediate rematch against the same opponents will be a chance to exorcise some demons, though Emery will be keen to show off his credentials in cup competitions.
The Spaniard has a knack for winning these sorts of competitions wherever he goes.
Manchester United will be hoping to get revenge over Aston Villa after 3-1 defeat on Sunday
WHICH GIANT IS SET TO FALL?
We will lose one of the big six at this early stage as Manchester City host Chelsea.
Both Pep Guardiola and Graham Potter will most likely rotate their starting line-ups given their busy fixture lists of late due to the Champions League group-stages – with fringe stars such as Conor Gallagher being given the nod.
City will be determined to win back the Carabao Cup after losing out last season with Liverpool ending their four consecutive victories in the competition.
The Blues reached the final last season, but fell short, so they’ll be hoping for better this time round especially their indifferent start to the season and the questions surrounding Potter’s lack of an impact since his arrival at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea and Manchester City will both rotate their line-ups ahead of their third round clash
WILL LOWEST RANKED GILLINGHAM DEFY THE ODDS?
League Two side Gillingham are the lowest ranked team left in the Carabao Cup, and have the small matter of Premier League opponents waiting for them.
Neil Harris’ side are currently sitting 20th in the bottom division of the Football League, having failed to win in their last five league fixtures.
The Gills will come up against Brentford, whose manager Thomas Frank has insisted the Bees are taking the tournament seriously this season.
Despite the apparent gulf in class however, stranger things have happened.
Gillingham, who are the lowest-ranked team in the cup competition, will face Brentford
FRANK LAMPARD TO GIVE YOUTH A CHANCE
Everton boss Frank Lampard has admitted that he will hand out opportunities to some of his fringe players and youngsters in the Carabao Cup.
The Toffees will make the trip away to fellow Premier League side Bournemouth in the third round with both side’s perhaps more focused on pulling themselves away from the relegation zone than a cup run.
Lampard spoke ahead of his side’s cup tie: ‘I will definitely take it seriously and our plan is to try and win it, simply. But also, I see a lot of managers get questioned when they change their team for these games but when you work day-to-day with 20+ players and a lot of them work very, very well and don’t play so regularly, you do try and find moments.
‘It is important for the squad so I think it’s a balance of trying to give those players minutes to show you they deserve to play more so we will certainly take it seriously.’
Everton boss Frank Lampard will hand out opportunities to fringe players at Bournemouth
KALVIN PHILLIPS COULD BE HANDED SOME MINUTES IN WORLD CUP BOOST
Kalvin Phillips hasn’t played since September, when he went under the knife for shoulder surgery.
The England international, who was a key figure at Euro 2020, is now fit and expected to feature for City in their Cup tie against Chelsea – even if it comes off the bench.
If the defensive midfielder can rack up some minutes in the cup tie, he could put himself back in contention to make Gareth Southgate’s 26-man England squad that boards the plane to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.
It will be his last chance to impress and prove his fitness with the Three Lions boss set to name his squad on Thursday.
Kalvin Phillips is expected to feature for Manchester City in Carabao Cup tie against Chelsea