The joys of the Carabao Cup; making us relive fixtures played just days later. Given their crushing 3-0 defeat at home to Leeds United on Saturday, I’d hazard a guess and say Tuesday’s cup tie might be more painful for Stoke City. Nathan Jones’ side truly justified their place at the bottom of the table; regular keeper Jack Butland was axed in favour of Australia national Adam Federici and Butland’s place in the squad seems to be hanging in the balance.
The 3-0 defeat against as yet unbeaten Leeds has piled more pressure on to Jones’ already weighed down shoulders, with him calling for players to take more responsibility for their actions. Though Federici conceded three goals, he also made some impressive saves and his personal performance as the new number 1 will doubtless have pleased Jones to some extent.
Leeds, on the other hand, exploited clear holes in the Stoke defence. Goals from Northern Ireland international Stuart Dallas, North Macedonia international Ezgjan Alioski and current first choice striker since the departure of Kemar Roofe to Anderlecht FC, Patrick Bamford, sealed Leeds’ pole position for a while longer - leading on goal difference from Swansea City.
Whether Jones will make further changes to his squad before the Carabao Cup tie is still up for discussion, the defence was already adjusted to make room for teenage centre-back Nathan Collins as well as Mark Duffy and Nigeria international Peter Etebo replacing usual suspects Tom Ince and Ryan Woods respectively. If the last Carabao Cup tie against League 2 newcomers Salford City is anything to go by, Marcelo Bielsa is expected to adjust the starting lineup to accommodate youngsters new and old, with particular emphasis on Arsenal loanee Eddie Nketiah who has already scored 2 goals for the first team.
Stoke City’s only victory so far this season came away at Wigan Athletic in the first round of the Carabao Cup, thanks to a tenth minute strike from centre-back Nathan Collins, so with that in mind their cup match form is certainly better than their league form. As with every Leeds fixture, it would be dangerous to rest on the laurels of previous results as this club manage to find surprises in the most unlikely places. Plus, cup ties are a different breed entirely to league ties. As you would expect, Leeds should continue their winning streak against Stoke but all will become clear under the lights at Elland Road at 7:45pm tonight.