Carabao Cup Quarterfinal preview and prediction
Stoke City will be looking to continue their Carabao Cup success on Wednesday in their quarterfinal matchup against Spurs. Stoke will be coming off an impressive victory on Saturday against Blackburn where they showcased their top tier defending and organization. Stoke and Brentford are the only two Championship teams left in the competition.
In an almost ridiculous injury situation, Stoke will most likely be tapping their young keeper Blondy Nna Noukeu for an emergency start. Currently unavailable for Stoke at the moment are – Adam Davies (injury), Angus Gunn (injury), Joe Bursik (cup-tied), Niki Maenpaa (injured), and Nathan Broome (injured). That leaves just Blondy and Andy Lonergan as options for Wednesday.
In Michael O’Neill’s pre-match press conference (Stoke Sentinel) he seemed to give more favor to Blondy due to his squad experience, though Lonergan has recovered from illness and will also be an option.
"Is Andy Lonergan well? And if it is Blondy, what a game for him! MON: Yes, it would be a huge game. Andy is fine, he’s trained the last couple of days and it will be either him or Andy that will play. Blondy has been around the first team now for the best part of nine months. He’s done very well. He’s been on the bench on a number of occasions and if he’s asked to play it’s a great opportunity for him. He only has to look at the likes of Joe Bursik, a young goalkeeper who has taken that opportunity. If he’s given the nod, he’ll get it with every confidence from me."
Certainly, this will be the biggest storyline of the day as the Stoke keeper will surely be tested in this matchup. Stoke will probably still be without Sam Clucas and Lee Gregory, but should see a return of John Obi Mikel. Joe Allen made a debut with the u-23’s earlier in the week but is unlikely to be ready.
For Spurs, they will be coming off two straight 2-0 losses against Leicester and Liverpool and will surely be looking to get back in form. Mourinho has was this competition 4 times before, though none with Spurs. Tottenham will most likely be fielding a much stronger squad than their previous EFL Cup match where they advance on penalties against Chelsea in late September. Tottenham will be getting Erik Lamela back after an injury spell, but will be without Giovani Lo Celso and Japhet Tanganga.
Last 5 (all competitions)
Stoke: W-L-D-D-W ( +1 goal differential, 4 clean sheets)
Tottenham: W-W-D-L-L (+1 goal differential, 2 clean sheets)
Blondy Nna Noukeu
Collins – Souttar – Batth – Fox
Mikel – Thompson
Ince – Powell – McClean
For Stoke, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same back line. Mikel is most likely ready to return and comes in for Cousins. Thompson in for Tymon. Brown really struggled on Saturday, I would be surprised if McClean does not start.
Doherty – Sanchez – Alderweireld – Davies
Winks – Hojbjerg
Bale – Alli – Lucas
Lots of variations for Spurs, though they are dealing with some injury problems and face a tough upcoming match against Wolves on Sunday.
Prediction: 1-0 Spurs
I think Stoke will be aiming to frustrate Spurs with a sound and rigid defensive performance on Wednesday, but I think that it won’t be enough against a talented Tottenham squad. Tyrese Campbell’s creativity and pace will be severely missed in this one as they really don’t have a top-quality option going forward to relieve pressure. In addition to this, Blondy Nna Noukeu making his debut against Tottenham just does not bode well. Stoke have rallied around keeper injuries so far this season, but when you are down to your sixth/seventh option in net (both who have not made significant starts recently) things start to break down. I think this match will be just a little too much for the Potters, though I do expect them to, yet again, put on an impressive defensive performance.