The fourth round of the Carabao Cup kicked off on Tuesday night with no fewer than five games up and down the country.
Manchester City eased their way past a struggling Southampton side 3-1, while Everton picked up a much-needed 2-0 win at home to Watford and Leicester negotiated a potential banana skin with a 3-1 victory away at Burton Albion.
We saw 16 goals in total across the five games, but who were the winners and losers?
Winner: Sergio Aguero
Sergio Aguero had to settle for a place on the bench against Aston Villa at the weekend but lined up alongside Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez in a star-studded Manchester City front three on Tuesday night.
Pep Guardiola was rewarded for his bold call when Aguero doubled City’s lead against Southampton in the 38th minute, while he added his second and City’s third of the night in typically clinical fashion shortly before the hour mark.
That’s a mightily impressive 243 goals in 350 appearances for City across all competition from Aguero, with 10 of those coming in the League Cup.
Loser: Moise Kean
Moise Kean was supposed to be the long-awaited Romelu Lukaku replacement for Everton, with the young Italian’s arrival generating a substantial amount of excitement around Goodison Park. In short, things haven’t gone to plan for him so far.
Including Tuesday night, Kean has started just four games for the Toffees so far and was even hooked at half-time during Everton’s 2-0 win over Watford having been unsuccessful in each of his two attempted dribbles, completing just 60% of his passes and delivering a grand total of zero shots on target.
Nobody is questioning the talent of this 19-year-old Golden Boy nominee but right now, he looks bereft of confidence among an Everton squad short of the stuff themselves.
Winner: Kelechi Iheanacho
With Jamie Vardy swimming goals and Brendan Rodgers bringing the very best out of his Leicester City squad, it’s easy to forget that Kelechi Iheanacho is still around at the King Power Stadium.
The former Man City man hasn’t managed a single appearance in the Premier League so far but, whether it be in a bid to work his way back into contention or put himself in the shop window, he’s started to make the League Cup his own.
Iheanacho bagged a goal in a 19-minute cameo as Leicester thrashed Luton Town 4-0 back in September and on Tuesday, he found the net once again, giving Leicester the lead after just seven minutes away at a plucky Burton Albion side.
It’s hard to see Iheanacho being a long-term option for the Foxes but he’s certainly using the League Cup to show he can be of use in front of goal for a number of sides out there.
Loser: Quique Sanchez Flores
Given the toxic mood on Merseyside right now, Everton’s 2-0 over Watford is unlikely to be a defining factor in saving Marco Silva’s job. What it does do, though, is increase the pressure on Quique Sanchez Flores.
The Spaniard returned to the club to replace compatriot Javi Gracia earlier this season but has failed to inject any inspiration into the Hornets thus far.
Their latest failure on Tuesday night leaves Flores with just one win from eight games since returning to Vicarage Road, and that solitary victory came in the previous round of this competition against Championship side Swansea.
Given how trigger-happy the Watford hierarchy is known to be, Flores might already be looking nervously over his shoulder.
Winner: Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola is a trophy-winning machine. Any shape, any size, and in any competition, the Spaniard doesn’t discriminate.
The City boss deserves great credit for fielding strong sides time again in this competition – a huge factor in why he’s won it for the past two seasons. That trend continued on Tuesday with the likes of Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Mahrez and Kyle Walker all being named in the starting XI.
And against a Southampton side who really are at rock bottom after their 0-9 drubbing at home to Leicester last week, there was only going to be one outcome.
Sure, it wasn’t vintage City and Guardiola will be less than impressed at conceding a goal at home having taken full control of the game, but their 3-1 victory is exactly what his team selection warranted. That’s 14 games unbeaten in the League Cup now for Manchester City.
Loser: Michael Luyambula
Who would be a goalkeeper? You’d have to be mad, wouldn’t you?
Tuesday night saw just how easily things can go horrifically wrong for the men between the sticks as, having already surrendered a 1-0 lead, Crawley Town fell 2-1 behind to Colchester United in the most unfortunate of ways.
Former Arsenal defender Cohen Bramall curled a lovely free-kick over the Crawley wall shortly before half-time, but Michael Luyambula will have been relieved to see it hit the crossbar. That was until the ball then bounced off the bar, onto his back and into the net.
A horrendous way to fall behind, Crawley went on to lose the game 3-1. You hate to see it.
Last season, Richarlison bagged 14 goals in 38 games across all competitions, earned his first senior caps for Brazil and was a part of their Copa America-winning squad over the summer. He showed everybody just how consistent he can actually perform, putting to bed those doubters from his Watford days.
This season has been a different story and before Tuesday night, the 22-year-old had gone 11 games without a goal for club and country, dating back to Everton’s 3-2 win over Wolves at the start of September.
But with Everton holding onto a 1-0 lead against Watford and looking terribly nervous in front of an edgy Goodison Park crowd, Richarlison stepped up in fine style to double the advantage for the home side in the dying embers, getting on the scoresheet against his former club and, hopefully, restoring some much-needed confidence in the 18-yard box.
This wasn’t a great individual performance across the 90 minutes for Richarlison but we all know how much a goal can lift your spirits. He needed it, Marco Silva needed it, Everton needed it.