The 7 Premier League clubs that are involved in European club competitions this season have joined 25 other English clubs that qualified for the third round of the EFL Cup in August. All 7 clubs are among the favourites to win the competition so are hoping to beat their respective opponents and go through to the next round. However, three among the seven clubs may not qualify for the last 16 if they decide to rest some of their key players as is mostly the case at this stage of the competition. Those 3 clubs are listed below.
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Liverpool's third-round opponent is Norwich. The Reds travel to Carrow Road on Tuesday knowing they have already beaten Norwich in that stadium this season. It was a 3-0 win in what was Liverpool's opening match. Since that defeat the Canaries have lost a further 4 matches so are the only club that is yet to get a point in the Premier League.
For that reason, it is expected that it should be an easy win for Liverpool. However, even with Norwich's poor form, it may not be so if the Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, decides to rest some of his key players.
The Liverpool squad lack depth. We saw that last season when they failed to challenge for the title following Van Dijk's injury. They have a very good first 11 but the quality of the other players in their squad is just about average. Therefore, I expect Liverpool to struggle defensively against Norwich if Van Dijk is rested. They could also struggle to create chances if Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane do not play.
2) Manchester United
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Manchester United's opponent in this round is West Ham, a side they were lucky to beat in the Premier League last Sunday. This time around the match will be played at Old Trafford. However, that advantage will count for nothing if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rests his key players, especially in defense.
United's defense is not as strong as their attack. They have only kept one clean sheet in all competitions this season and they lost the Champions League match against Young Boys where Solskjaer decided not to start Raphael Varane.
With West Ham striker Michail Antonio back from suspension, if the Norwegian rests both Varane and captain Harry Maguire, it could cost them the match as they don't have strong backup players in the 2 center-back positions.
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Tottenham's opponent is Wolverhampton who is struggling in the league this season. Although Tottenham's form has tailed off, it is thought that they still have enough to beat Wolves.
Having said that, Spurs could struggle in this match if they don't play their key players. They lost 3-0 to Crystal Palace when Son Heung-min and some of their defenders were out due to injury.
Even though Wolves have not been at their best, they could knock out Tottenham if some of those players that missed the Crystal Palace game are rested.
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