Football Features

Chelsea starlet ready for league action: Five things we learned from Wednesday’s Carabao Cup games

By Steve Jennings

Published: 22:12, 25 September 2019

It was yet another extraordinary night of action in the Carabao Cup third round on Wednesday.

Tottenham’s shock defeat at Colchester United was undoubtedly the story of Tuesday night, and yet more Premier League sides were eliminated by lower league opposition the following evening.

Manchester United won on penalties against League One side Rochdale, but Bournemouth, West Ham and Sheffield United all missed out on a place in the fourth round with unexpected defeats.

The results:

– Brighton 1-3 Aston Villa
– Burton Albion 2-0 Bournemouth
– Chelsea 7-1 Grimsby
– MK Dons 0-2 Liverpool
– Oxford Utd 4-0 West Ham
– Sheffield Utd 0-1 Sunderland
– Wolves 1-1 Reading (Wolves win 4-2 on pens)
– Man Utd 1-1 Rochdale (Man Utd win 5-3 on pens)

The fourth round draw:

– Everton v Watford
– Aston Villa v Wolves
– Man City v Southampton
– Burton Albion v Leicester
– Crawley v Colchester
– Chelsea v Man Utd
– Oxford v Sunderland
– Liverpool v Arsenal

Meanwhile, Chelsea eased through against Grimsby and Liverpool won at MK Dons. Here are five things we learned from Wednesday’s action.

1. We’re going to see a lot more of Harvey Elliott

Harvey Elliott is officially the youngest ever player to start for Liverpool. The 16-year-old, who joined the Merseysiders from Fulham in the summer, also became the club’s second youngest ever player against MK Dons and very nearly marked the occasion with a goal.

Just a few minutes into game, Elliott found himself free inside the six-yard box but could only direct a short onto the crossbar when it looked easier to score. The teenager’s miss can of course be excused; he probably wasn’t expecting such a simple chance so early on his debut.

Moments later, he produced some impressive footwork and set up a big chance for James Milner, who couldn’t steer a header inside the post from a tight angle. It was fitting that the two players combined; Milner became the second youngest ever Premier League player in November 2002, five months before Elliot was even born.

Milner eventually opened the scoring with a little help from a terrible mistake by MK Dons goalkeeper Stuart Moore, who somehow let the ball slip into his own net. Milner has entered the twilight years of his career while Elliott is just starting out. Patience is required, but we’re bound to see plenty more of the starlet.

2. Reece James is ready to play more often for Chelsea

Reece James made his long awaited Chelsea debut against Grimsby, becoming the latest youngster to benefit from the Blues’ transfer ban and Frank Lampard’s propensity to put faith in youth.

The 19-year-old right-back showed plenty of promise during an excellent loan spell with Wigan Athletic last season and fulfilled that potential in his first appearance for Chelsea. His cross for Kurt Zouma’s goal, Chelsea’s fourth, was a thing of beauty. And eight minutes from time he bagged a debut goal to make it a very special night.

There have been calls for James to feature in the Premier League as a result of Cesar Azpilicueta’s dip in form. Chelsea have sporadically impressed when Lampard has used a back three this term; James’ inclusion would allow Azpilicueta to move inside to centre-back. It’s a tactical switch Lampard may be tempted to try out after James’ display here.

Regardless of whether James goes straight into the side against Brighton this weekend, the teenager is bound to be given more opportunities down the line following a hugely encouraging debut.

3. Man Utd youngsters upstaged by Rochdale starlet

Manchester United made extremely hard work of things against Rochdale at Old Trafford, taking until the 68th minute to go ahead. But it was a goal to be enjoyed as 17-year-old Mason Greenwood scored in his second successive start for the club.

However, the headlines so nearly belonged to Rochdale’s 16-year-old wonderkid, Luke Matheson. Such is the impression Matheson has made with Rochdale in League One, the teenager has actually been linked with a move to United in recent months. And he showed why he is coveted by one of the country’s biggest clubs with the equaliser at Old Trafford.

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Sadly for Rochdale, United scored all five of their penalties to send Brian Barry-Murphy’s side crashing out. But the result was probably more positive for the visitors than the hosts as the Red Devils once again failed to convince in front of their own fans.

Greenwood was a big positive, though Solskjaer will know his team’s performance must improve to get the supporters back on side.

4. Home comforts for Wolves but Brighton’s young guns struggle

Nuno Espirito Santo loves cup games, as long as they take place in familiar surroundings. The Wolves manager has a remarkable home record in cup competitions: he is now unbeaten in his last 20 domestic cup matches at home since a defeat in the Taca da Liga in December 2012, when he was Rio Ave manager.

He has won 13 of those matches after technically drawing with Championship side Reading here before going on to win on penalties. Young midfielder Bruno Jordao, who arrived from Lazio in the summer, justified the excitement around his inclusion with the hosts’ only goal, ensuring Santo’s home comforts continued.

Brighton experienced the polar opposition emotion with yet another disappointing result at the Amex Stadium. The Seagulls are yet to win at home since Graham Potter took over, and their youthful team – the youngest XI put out by a Premier League manager this season – struggled to deal with Aston Villa, who ran out 3-1 winners.

Potter will be desperate for a home victory as soon as possible. Spurs are Brighton’s next opponents at the Amex – it might be a good time to face the Londoners providing Mauricio Pochettino’s fail to turn their form around before that fixture.

5. More dark days, literally, for Premier League sides

Colchester’s secured a famous result on Wednesday night, but they also fired a warning to any Premier League team considering wholesale personnel changes in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night. And many top-flight outfits didn’t heed that warning.

West Ham were thrashed by League One side Oxford United, who built on their 6-0 thrashing of Lincoln at the weekend with an even more outstanding victory. Sheffield United also fell to League One opposition, losing 1-0 at home to Sunderland.

The most entertaining match of the night may well have been at the Pirelli Stadium, where Burton Albion saw off three separate power cuts to knock out Bournemouth. Power problems in the area very nearly saw the game called off midway through the second half, but the contest continued and Burton rallied to score a second crucial goal.

Will the remaining Premier League clubs change their approach against lower league sides in the next round? We’re in the dark.