English Premier League leaders Chelsea and beleaguered Liverpool will be among the teams bidding to take a step closer to Wembley when the League Cup reaches the quarterfinal stage this week.
Both sides face second-tier opposition, with Chelsea visiting Derby County on Tuesday and Liverpool travelling to new Championship leaders Bournemouth on Wednesday.
In the only all-Premier League tie, Tottenham Hotspur host Newcastle United, while the third division’s sole representatives, Sheffield United, host out-of-form Southampton.
The League Cup holds special significance for Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, as he won the 2005 tournament in his first season at the club and went on to lift the trophy for a second time in 2007.
Chelsea have made a sensational start to the campaign, losing only one of their first 24 games in all competitions, but goalkeeper Petr Cech says they cannot be compared to the great teams of the past until they win something.
“This team has huge potential”, said the Czech, who stood in for the injured Thibaut Courtois in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Hull City and is expected to keep his place for the trip to Pride Park.