Front runners for the trophy have to be Chelsea and Arsenal, Arsenal are desperate for a trophy and this opens up a fantastic opportunity for them to get their mits on one. They have an ideal tie at Bradford, who are the lowest ranked side in the competition. As they say, ‘you can’t take anything for granted’ and perhaps that could apply with Bradford’s home form, but surely this is the best chance Arsenal have at making the last four. Chelsea have a slightly more trickier tie at Leeds, who have certainly found better form in the cup than the Championship. The big guns might have to be out for Chelsea, Leeds possess a real threat against the top sides. Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal have all endured tough games against Leeds in the past five seasons.
Norwich and Aston Villa meet in the Quarter Final and both have a chance of going all the way. The recent Premier League meeting gave no clear indication as to who will win, as they drew 1-1. Norwich have been picking up their perfomances in recent weeks, it does seem Hughton is getting it right. Aston Villa have often enjoyed success in the League Cup, they came close to winning it in 2010, narrowly losing to Manchester United 2-1. Aston Villa have already steered clear of potential dangers in the competition, beating Manchester City 4-2 in their best perfomance of the season thus far.
Swansea are another side in contention, form under Laudrup has been inconsistent at times, however when they play to their full potential they are match for anyside. The Liberty can be fortress, this could help when playing Championship side, Middlesbrough. Who pose a real threat with their fantastic form in the Championship, as they play some really good football. At Sunderland they played them off the park, looking like the Premier League side on the day. Despite this, Swansea might have enough to scrape through, if they play the football that has become the signature of the club.
Whoever gets into the Semi Final, it’ll open up a fantastic chance of silverware. Arsenal’s hunger could see them progress to Wembley, Wenger has been getting more and more criticism as the years roll on without a trophy. He could gamble and play his big guns as they desperately aim to put a new trophy in the Emarties trophy cabinet. Di Matteo will have a great desire to win the trophy to consolodate his position as manager, with Pep Guardiola seemingly avaliable you can never rule out Abramovic showing Di Matteo the door. Michael Laudrup recently described Swansea as ‘his club’, a trophy win would surely win over any Swans fans in doubt and put his stamp on the Welsh club. Norwich and Aston Villa will look to make the cup a welcomed distraction, it certainly does give them a chance to explore new line ups and show the footballing world they do have quality.
For, Bradford, Middlesbrough and Leeds, a cup success would definitely be perceived as excellent for all three. Warnock would love it, a real sense of the glory days back in Leeds would ease pressure of the supporters frustration at the League form. Bradford would be in ecstasy, but the chances of them winning are so slim it may be pie in the sky to suggest they’ll triumph. If Tony Mowbray wasn’t already a legend, a cup victory would make it official. Although many Boro fans, including myself would rather see promotion to the Premier League.