October 31, 2012
To many of the managers in the Premier League, the league cup competition is an annoying early-season distraction until the later rounds. Often teams will play weaker sides and use it as an opportunity to give the squad players a game. However, with the winner of the Capital One Cup (as it is known this season) gaining qualification to the Europe League it can be a lucrative prize.
The first few rounds mainly feature clubs from lower down the league pyramid, with the Premier League sides joining in the action in Round 2, except for those playing in Europe who get a bye to Round 3. By Round 4, many of the lower league teams are out and the competition is starting to get serious for any of the teams who are still dreaming of a Wembley Final.
The fourth round games were played over two nights, with half of the games on Tuesday October 30 and the remaining games on the next night.
Reading v Arsenal
Before the kick-off, not many people would have thought that the game between Reading and Arsenal would be a classic. Both teams are struggling for form in the Premier League and not scoring too many goals.
Straight from the start, Reading swept into a commanding lead with goals from Roberts, Leigertwood and Hunt adding to a Koscielny own goal all within the first 37 minutes. At this point, Arsenal were heading out of the competition and looking forwards to humiliating headlines in the sports media. Shortly before half-time, Walcott pulled one back and another from Giroud after 64 minutes made the score 4-2.
With no further goals and the clock ticking down, Reading fans were horrified when Koscielny and then Walcott added two goals in injury time to level the scores after regular time. Heading into extra time, Arsenal took the lead for the first time through Chamakh before Pogrebnyak scored to equalize for Reading.
Counting down towards a penalty shootout, first Walcott then Chamakh scored two goals in injury time for the visitors to leave the final score 5-7 after one of the most exciting soccer games seen in England for years.
Wigan Athletic v Bradford City
Bradford City are a side that has fallen on hard times since their last visit to the Premier League in the 1999 and 2000 seasons, but currently lie in the promotions spaces in League Two. Of all the teams that have played previously in the Premier League, Bradford have fallen the furthest and most onlookers would have this game down as an easy home victory.
Wigan are an unpredictable side though and after a great win in the Premier League on Saturday they were due for a struggle. Neither team could score through normal time or extra time leading a penalty shoot-out to settle the tie. Bradford players fired home four penalties while Wigan missed two to give the visitors a famous victory.
Sunderland v Middlesbrough
Another game featuring a Premier League team hosting visitors that were once a member of that illustrious league. Middlesbrough are in fine league form and sit in the Championship just outside the automatic promotion spots to the Premier League. A cup tie against local opposition from the Premier League is a good indication of how ready the team is for promotion.
Sunderland have not won too many league games, but are difficult to beat. However, a McDonald goal gave the visitors the lead just before half-time and no further goals were scored. The visitors took the honors in this local derby and progressed through to the next round 0-1.
Swindon Town v Aston Villa
Another tie between a Premier League team and a side that fell onto hard times since gracing the top levels of English soccer, Swindon are slowly making their way back to the top under manager Paulo Di Canio and this home tie is their reward for great performances in the previous rounds – including taking the scalps of Stoke and Burnley.
The first half of the game went to league position, with Aston Villa taking a two goal lead through Benteke and Agbonlahor. The game looked to be heading to an easy away win when Storey scored twice for the home side in three minutes to level the tie. Heartbreak for the home fans came in the form of a 90th minute winner through Benteke for the visitors.
Leeds v Southampton
It is only a few years since these two teams were regulars in the Premier League. Southampton are back in the top division now, while Leeds are still trying to regain their place.
A goal from Tonge gave Leeds a lead at half-time, and further goals from Diouf and a 93rd minute penalty goal from Becchio gave the home side a comfortable 3-0 victory.
Norwich v Tottenham
These two teams met at Tottenham in the Premier League a few weeks ago. On that occasion, the scores ended 1-1 and fans booed the home side off the pitch.
This game looked to be heading the same way, with a goalless first half before Bale opened the scoring for the visitors after 66 minutes. Tottenham were starting to look safe for the victory when a Vertonghen own goal and a Jackson goal for the home side in the last ten minutes turned the game on its head. The home team ran out 2-1 winners and progress to the next round.
Liverpool v Swansea
Liverpool are still looking for their first victory over the visitors since they joined the Premier League last season. Unfortunately for the home side, this game did not go according to plan and Chico gave the visitors the lead after 34 minutes.
A goal from Dyer gave the visitors a two goal lead before Suarez pulled back one for the home side. Scores remained the same until De Guzman added another for the visitors in injury time to give Swansea a victory by 1-3.
Chelsea v Manchester United
The tie of the round was a repeat of the Premier League game from Sunday where the visitors ran out 2-3 winners. Neutrals might have thought this game could be high scoring after several recent games between these sides have been, and would not have been disappointed by the result.
Ryan Giggs gave United the lead, before a Luiz penalty leveled the scores after 31 minutes. Shortly before half time Hernandez put United back into the lead and the first half ended 1-2. Cahill scored to level matters early in the second half before Nani gave the visitors the lead for the third time. This game looked to be heading to the same result as Sunday until a Hazard penalty in injury time took the game into injury time.
Sturridge gave the home side the lead for the first time in the match in the first period of extra time and Ramires put Chelsea 5-3 up with five minutes to go. A last minute Giggs penalty made the final score 5-4.
The draw for Round 5 will take place shortly with eight names left in the hat. The big two London clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal will be the favorites to win this tournament, but the other six teams will hope for a draw that pitches the top two teams together allowing them an easy passage to the final.