Obviously, four of the traditional top six are still in the competition and the winner will be seen by many as being somewhere in this group. Chelsea, who will face fellow London club Brentford in the quarterfinals, may be the most obvious choice. The side are currently positioned at the top of the Premier League table, with Thomas Tuchel moulding them into a true force of modern football.
Alternatively, Liverpool has demonstrated at times that they are back to their best, and certainly have the quality needed to reach and win the final. Arsenal and Tottenham remain in the competition as well; however, with their turbulent season’s so far, it is difficult to say how they will react to reaching this deep into the competition.
All quarter-final teams clearly have impressive squads and winning DNA, but the wildcard of the Carabao Cup is it is not so much a question of quality as one of depth, hence Manchester City’s unprecedented dominance. The tactics of rotation of players and systems is what separates a capable squad and a deep squad with good management. Perhaps this is how West Ham have displayed such ability so far, notably removing the two remaining members of the top six in both clubs from Manchester.
Fans should also not discount Leicester City, despite their poor start to the season thus far. Brendan Rodgers has previously demonstrated his ability to take Leicester deep into cup competition, and a club with the quality that Leicester possesses will surely wish to challenge for any silverware that they can get their hands on. The issue with this squad is that their depth is perhaps lacking compared to their opponents, meaning their ability to challenge the more successful clubs depends on the priority which management places on the competition.
The biggest outsiders left in the Carabao are Sunderland and Brentford, two sides that will largely be overlooked but will look to upset the balance and electrify their fanbases. Brentford have been overperforming so far in the league this year, and their exciting brand of football have made them a fan favourite for neutrals. This momentum could carry them to a very memorable cup run.
Meanwhile, Sunderland of League One have already defied the odds to make it alongside such esteemed company, but maybe such a trophy could mean that little bit more to those involved at the club.
Every team here will be hungry to earn some silverware as early as possible, and the next round of competition will surely create some truly exciting football and results.
The quarter-final draws:
Arsenal vs. Sunderland - 21st December at 19:45
Brentford vs. Chelsea - 22nd December at 19:45
Liverpool vs. Leicester City - 22nd December at 19:45
Tottenham vs. West Ham - 22nd December at 19:45