The Carabao Cup kicks off this evening with 34 games being played, plus a further game on Thursday night. No Premier League clubs are entered at this stage, so this round provides a perfect opportunity for Football League clubs to get some way into the competition before being drawn against somebody from the top flight.
Carabao Cup First Round Preview
With so many teams entered at this stage, it’s hard to give a mention to every single one. However, this is a competition that Football Leauge teams typically do well in. Sheffield United and Bristol City have both reached the semi-finals within the last five years, and Bradford City, then in League Two, made it all the way to the final in the 2012/13 season, where they lost 5-0 to Swansea. As this round is made entirely of Football Leauge teams, some will inevitably not be able to repeat the feats of those teams.
Fifteen former winners of the competition will enter at the first round stage this time around. Aston Villa are the most successful team entering, having won the competition five times, most recently in the 1995/96 season. Nottingham Forest have won it four times, Norwich and Birmingham both twice, and then Middlesbrough, West Brom, QPR, Leeds, Stoke, Luton, Sheffield Wednesday, Swindon, Oxford, Blackburn and Swansea have all won it once.
Round One’s Big Games
Sunderland v Sheffield Wednesday
The solitary Thursday night fixture sees two huge teams go head-to-head in the first round. Sunderland, finding themselves in League One after a torrid two years, host Jos Luhukay’s Wednesday side in just their third meeting since 2007.
This will be the second year in a row that Sunderland have entered at the third round, having been in the Premier League not so long ago. They reached the third round last time out, losing to Everton after beating Bury and Carlisle.
Wednesday, meanwhile, only made it to the second round. They brushed aside Chesterfield, now in the National League, in the first round before losing 3-2 away at Bolton in Round Two.
To have two big sides going up against each other so early in the competition could provide some motivation to other sides, knowing that it’s one less big side to worry about later on.
West Brom v Luton Town
West Brom and Luton last met in 2007, discounting a meeting between the Hatters and West Brom’s Under-23 side in the 2016/17 Checkatrade Trophy. West Brom ran out 3-2 winners in that day’s Championship fixture and they will be hugely confident of running out as winners again.
The two sides have had vastly differing fortunes since that day. West Brom have bounced between the Championship and the Premier League, while Luton have had a fairly lengthy spell in non-league after financial trouble. The Hatters are on their way back up the leagues now, though, and have an excellent opportunity to cause an upset at the Hawthorns.
West Brom were unlucky in the competition last season having been drawn against a rampant Manchester City in just the third round, having entered at the second. Luton, on the other hand, were 2-0 losers against Ipswich in their first game.
With Luton expected to be challenging for the play-offs in League One this season, and West Brom making a less than impressive start to life back in the Championship, there is every chance that these two can once again be on a level playing field next season. That will give Luton confidence that they can go to the Hawthorns and take the game to the Baggies, but their experience and superior quality should eventually see them over the line.
Oldham Athletic v Derby County
Frank Lampard has already experienced the highs and lows of football management in his short time in charge of Derby. His side scored a last minute winner against Reading in the season’s opening game but were humbled 4-1 by Leeds United in his next match.
His first taste of cup football will come against League Two side Oldham Athletic. The last meeting between these two sides was also in the Carabao Cup when Derby ran out 1-0 winners. After a return to League Two that has seen them pick up just a single point so far, Oldham will be keen to secure their first win of the season, and to get it against opposition from two leagues above will give them confidence for the rest of their campaign.
Rotherham United vs Wigan Athletic
Tranmere Rovers vs Walsall
Crewe Alexandra vs Fleetwood Town
Scunthorpe United vs Doncaster Rovers
Macclesfield Town vs Bradford City
Grimsby Town vs Rochdale
Sheffield United vs Hull City
Nottingham Forest vs Bury
Middlesbrough vs Notts County
Sunderland vs Sheffield Wednesday
Leeds United vs Bolton Wanderers
Carlisle United vs Blackburn Rovers
Mansfield Town vs Accrington Stanley
Port Vale vs Lincoln City
Preston North End vs Morecambe
Oldham Athletic vs Derby County
Shrewsbury Town vs Burton Albion
Blackpool vs Barnsley
Millwall vs Gillingham
Portsmouth vs AFC Wimbledon
Cheltenham Town vs Colchester United
Yeovil Town vs Aston Villa
Southend United vs Brentford
Reading vs Birmingham City
Wycombe Wanderers vs Northampton Town
Swindon Town vs Forest Green Rovers
Exeter vs Ipswich Town
West Bromwich Albion vs Luton Town
Bristol Rovers vs Crawley Town
Bristol City vs Plymouth Argyle
Cambridge United vs Newport County
Queens Park Rangers vs Peterborough United
Oxford United vs Coventry City